Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens

Chicago Botanic Garden

Restoring McDonald Woods

Posted on 14 September 2016

McDonald Woods is a 100-acre remnant oak woodland at the northeast corner of the Chicago Botanic Garden on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The woodland encompasses five community types: northern flatwoods, mesic woodland, dry-mesic woodland, upland forest, and savanna. Although the site was historically subjected to the negative influences of agriculture and logging, it retained remnant populations of six state-listed plant species. The site also is noteworthy in that it contains several species not found before in the Chicago region: Carex digitalis, Deschapsia flexuosa, and Carex hyalinolepis.

Since restoration and management began in 1988, the woodland now supports self-sustaining populations of Aster furcatus, Carex tuckermanii, Carex formosa, Carex bromoides, Oenothera perennis, and Viola conspersa (state-listed species).  Baseline inventories of herbaceous, shrub & tree populations, small mammals, birds, butterflies, mycorrhizal fungi, bryophytes, litter spiders, mites & springtails have been completed. Ongoing surveys are looking at the response of each of these groups to restoration. Restoration and management has involved (and continues to involve) removal of invasive species; seeding to enhance existing plant populations and re-establish species thought to occur historically; and controlled burning.

Read more about this project on the Chicago Botanic Garden website, here and here.

Click here to watch a video about the ecological restoration work at Chicago Botanic Garden.

McDonald Woods, Chicago Botanic Garden

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