With help from the Conservation Corps Iowa, Linn County Conservation planted more than 700 native trees in Wanatee Park on Arbor Day, April 29, 2022. The new trees are part of years-long reforestation efforts following the 2020 derecho that caused significant damage to the woodland areas of Linn County’s parks, especially Wanatee Park.
In the winters of 2021 and 2022, Linn County Conservation completed a major salvage harvest of approximately 300 acres. Many large, high-quality trees destroyed in the storm had “salvageable” marketable logs that could be used for commercial products. The harvest of those damaged trees allowed for the sale of the logs with proceeds to fund ongoing restoration efforts over the coming years.
Over 1,300 logs in Wanatee Park and at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center were removed, bid on, and sold to manufacturers to produce products such as furniture, cabinets, trim, whiskey barrels, and pallets. Proceeds from these sales are being used to fund Conservation area restoration efforts. In addition, several logs were taken to a sawmill and will be used to build five new picnic shelters at the new redevelopment site at Morgan Creek Park. These shelters will be made from red oak, white oak, hickory, walnut, and cherry wood.
To date, 15 acres in Wanatee Park have been prepped for re-planting with mixed hardwoods to bring the forest back to its historically natural condition of oaks, basswood, black cherry, black walnut, and shagbark hickory. Linn County Conservation removed a tremendous amount of non-native invasives, such as barberry and oriental bittersweet. The 700 trees planted on Arbor Day were planted on this 15-acre area in Wanatee Park and were funded by an Iowa Department of Natural Resources bat conservation grant awarded to Linn County Conservation.
Coordinated and careful replanting efforts will restore our woodlands, add additional pollinator habitat, wildlife food, and winter cover in addition to natural aesthetics to these park locations that are visited frequently for environmental education, photography, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
Learn more about Linn County Conservation’s salvage harvest and replanting efforts in Conservation’s Oak Hickory Newsletters.