One of the biggest threats to the Black Oak Savanna community is the shade caused by trees, shrubs and saplings due to fire suppression. For the last 18 years, we have been
restoring Black Oak Savanna community at Conrad Station Savanna to a more open, sunny habitat, allowing this globally-rare community and its equally rare flora and fauna to thrive.
At this point in our restoration efforts, we want to evaluate our work and adapt our future management accordingly.
We are partnering with the Will County Forest Preserve District of Illinois to implement a biennial monitoring program. This monitoring uses transects (a transect is a path along which one counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study) to measure plant diversity and abundance, woody shrub cover, canopy cover, and trees per acre. We also established 20 photo points at the ends of each transect, so that we can have a photographic record of our restoration progress over time.
This monitoring is a significant investment of time, but understanding our management success is time well spent. The monitoring will be an ongoing project, so if you happen to hike Conrad Station and notice plastic flagging hanging from trees near to fiberglass poles, you are looking at science in progress.