Ecological Enhancement

Concept

ChicoryLane Ecological Enhancement Projects are focused on specific areas on a scale of one or sevral acres appropriate for individual landowners. The goal is to improve the ecological quality of a particular area. This is done by addressing a need or opportunity, identifying native plan species found in the area and increasing or decreasing their numbers as appropriate, and by introducing new compatible species for identifiable purposes.

Discussion

The notion of ecological enhancement slips easily off the tongue but is an idea that is not necessarily obvious or one that everyone will readily agree with. A friend with strong personal and professional acquainenance with environmental concerns, upon hearing the term, asked "Why not just leave the whole thing up to Nature?" A good question!
Why not protect desirable parcels from subdivision and development and then leave them alone to "let nature take its course"? That's what many conservationists and conservation easements do. One answer is that in the 300 years since this country was settled, there has been vast influx of new plant and animal species introduce or allowed to take hold. In many cases, existing habitats included no inherent stops on the expansion of such species with the result that in some cases, prior species were overwhelmed by new ones. Such invasives may not be unnatural in a fundamental way but not be desirable when they overwhelm earlier species and reduse diversity. In central Pennsylvania, Tarterian honeysuckle, Autumn  olive, Multiflora rose, European  bittersweet are a few obvious examples that can turn rich ecological areas into monocrops.
Many  conservation easements include requirements for the landowner to protect the area not just from subdivision and development but also from invasives. But controlling invasives, particularly for larger tracts, is an expensive and labor-intensive job, often neglected by the  landowner and not enforced by the  easement holder. Even at best, it is settling for the lowest common denominator. Why not restore a diminished property to some semblance of a former, richer environment? For an old farm transitioning out or agriculture, for whatever reasosn, why not help it find a place among the natural conditions that existed before it was cropped? In areas near municipalities, why not enable it to become a place of solace or learning for neighbors who may be lving in more mediated environments?
"But isn't that what parks are for?" you ask. To a certain extent, "yes." But more and more parks are places for recreationg and exercise, shouting, competing, blowing  off steam. All needed, but not the same thing as quiet, solace, observation of the natural world, slowing down, being. It would be wonderful if governements shared this  perspective and had the means to provide such places for their citizens. But we don't see this happening. If such places or going to be preserved or created, we believe it will be done by charitable organizations or private landowners. By groups and individuals who are willing to direct private resources to lands that they control, that they are willing to develop ecologically and share them with others in a responsible and appropriate manner. This is not elitist but pragmatic.

Ecological Enhancement: A Framework

We describe a framework of principles and processes that can help individual landowners, primarily, or small organizations, as well, to ecologically enhance properties they hold. We pay particular attention to the scale of projects - typically involving an acre or three - that can do significant ecological good but are not overwhelming or go on forever.

Current or Anticipated Projects

Riparian North
This project is seeking to enhance a section of a continuous running stream 6-8 feet wide and extending some 250 yards north-south from where it enters ChicoryLane property to where it is joined by another stream that flows east-west. The riparian area of concern extends some 50 feet on each side of the stream, varying according to the topography. The stream is the primary natural feature of the area along with an enormous Crack Willow tree. The area also includes some 80 native plant species. Particularly notable are American Plum; Nannyberry, Arrowwood, and BlackHaw Vibernum; Serviceberry; Canada Lilies; and Spicebush. The main focus of this project is enhancement through increasing seleced species, reducing less desirable or invasive ones, and introduce several complementary new species not ccurrently found in that area.
Riparian South
This project is seeking to enhance the continunatiion of the Riparian North stream below its junction with the east-west steream and continuing until it exits the ChicoryLane property to the south-west. This segment is of similar width and flow and extends another 250 yeards. Perhaps its most notable feature is some fifteen additional Crack Willows along its length. The first is of similar age to the "mother" tree near the streams junction, but others added over the years now range from 10 feet in height to others that are as tall as the original pair- some 60-70 feet. Other prominent species include Aspens, Speckled Alder, and Calmus. Again, the main focus of the project is enhancement through increasing seleced species, reducing less desirable or invasive ones, and introduce complementary new species not ccurrently found in the area.
Riparian East, Part 1
This project is seeking to enhance a section of a smaller stream that joins the noth-south stream. It begins at its junction with the larger stream and continues upstream to the east past the ChcioryLane barn, house, and yard; we arbitrarily draw the line of this part if the stream at the east edge of the yard, for a total distance of some 200 yeards. Notable species include a sizeable stand of Aspen trees, a patch of Reed Canary Grass (undesirable), a large Blue Vervaine patch, a dozen or so Elderberry, a stream crossing, a second grove of Aspens with Scillia and Daffiodils, and large patches of Comfrey and deep maroon native Bergamot. The main focus of the project is enhancement through increasing seleced species, reducing less desirable or invasive ones (especially Reed Canary Grass), and introduce complementary new species not ccurrently found in that area.
Riparian East, Part 2
This project is seeking to enh,ance the continuation of the Part 1 Riparian East stream, from the east edge of the yard upstream until it exits the ChicoryLane property further east. Whereas the Part 1 segment borders the more developed sections of the property adjacent to the house, yard, and barn, the Part 2 segment borders a naturlized pollinator field and a small portion of a Native Grasses grassland. Notable species other than the grasses and herbaceous pollinators include a small grove of Amercian Beech, Hophornbeam, and Musclewood trees. The main focus of the project is enhancement through increasing seleced species, reducing less desirable or invasive ones, and introduce several complementary new species not ccurrently found in that area. It will largely be a streambank and floodplain enhancement.

June, 2022
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