Greenspace

And Trail System

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More than 1,700 acres of Greenspace (open spaces) scattered throughout The Territory are maintained as natural habitat and protected from future development, including the 7-mile shoreline of Lake Galena. Wild turkey, white-tailed deer and red fox are frequently seen, along with hawks and eagles soaring overhead. Woods and meadows are lush with grasses, flowers, ferns, shrubs and trees May through October. With 24 miles of trails winding through Greenspace, hikers can spend a day enjoying the serenity and solitude that only nature can provide.

The trails closest to Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa are paved and suitable for jogging, power walking and other activities that require sure footing. Some of these trails also have lookout platforms for beautiful panoramas of Lake Galena and the countryside.

The majority of the trails are natural and not paved. They are rugged and sometimes wet and slippery depending on prevailing weather conditions. However, that just adds to their charm! Hiking and horseback riding are two of the most popular pastimes here and can be enjoyed year-round. Although the trails are not groomed for cross-country skiing, Association members and their guests can break their own trails and discover the beauty and winter solitude of The Galena Territory.

*An amenity card and parking pass are required to access all Galena Territory Association facilities and common properties
(Lake Galena, Owners' Club Complex, Greenspace & Trails and both of The Territory refuse centers).

Greenspace & Trails Reports

By Emily Lubcke, Natural Resources Coordinator, 815- 777-2000, ext. 131

 
Originally appeared in the Territory Times November 2020
Oak woodlands once dominated the Jo Daviess County landscape. The woodlands had open canopies, allowing plenty of light to ground to recruit oak trees for the next generation and support a diverse understory of herbaceous and shrubby plants. This plant diversity supported a wide variety of wildlife, including songbirds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. Through changes in land management, once-dominant oaks are being replaced by shade-tolerant maple, ash, elm, black walnut, basswood and hackberry trees in a process called mesophication. As a result, the canopies of our woodlands are denser and less light reaches the ground, reducing herbaceous and shrub vegetation, oak recruitment, and wildlife diversity.

SEVERAL REASONS FOR REDUCTION
European settlement led to the decline in oak woodlands. Lead mining operations in Jo Daviess County used oak wood to fire smelters. Mining gave way to farming, which had a greater impact on oaks, as trees were felled to increase farming opportunities. As equipment mechanized and grew increasingly larger, more acres of oak communities were removed. This is still occurring, as windrows and waterways continue to be bulldozed for the almighty row crop.

Jo Daviess County has a large number of grazing animals, now and historically, because the rolling topography makes row-cropping more challenging. Grazing practices mimic fires by preventing seedlings of woody species from surviving. Although grazing maintains an open structure within woodlands, it also prevents oak recruitment. Grazing modified the shrub layer to what is observed today: An overabundance of unpalatable thorny species, such as raspberry, gooseberry, and prickly ash.

Historically, the shrub layer included hazelnut, serviceberry, viburnum, dogwood, and witch hazel. If you purchase these species from a nursery today, the planting requirements include full-to-partial sun: Conditions present when these species thrived in our open oak woodlands.

The greatest change in land management that negatively impacted oak woodlands, both historically and today, was cessation of fires. Historically, fires that crossed this landscape prevented fire-sensitive species, such as maple, ash, elm, and basswood, from dominating the landscape and kept the oak canopy open, allowing continued recruitment of oak saplings. The mature oak canopy we enjoy today is the legacy of fire management implemented by Native Americans.

BEST PRACTICES IN WOODLAND MANAGEMENT
Oak woodland management is occurring across the Midwest, including The Galena Territory, to reverse mesophication and ensure oak trees remain dominant for the next 200 or more years. Best management practices to ensure oak recruitment and increased ground- and shrub-layer plant diversity include: control invasive species; re-introduce prescribed fire; control the deer population; and remove trees from the canopy and mid-story so more sunlight reaches the ground.

Observations and studies at other sites across the Midwest show that oak woodlands have the best chance of being sustained through a multi-faceted approach using these management strategies. These projects are long-term and will have an impact for many generations to come.

YOU CAN HELP
Property owners can help by encouraging oak trees to thrive on private property: Gather and plant acorns and plant new oak trees. Several species of oaks will be available during the spring native plant sale in 2021. Watch for more information about it in the new year. To protect existing trees, pruning or trimming should only occur in the dormant season, after mid-to-late October to reduce the spread of oak wilt disease. A second way to protect existing trees is to avoid negative impacts to their root system, including soil compaction, top soil addition and digging too close to the tree.

Lastly, consider selective cutting of trees that are growing below and into the canopy of an existing oak, reducing competition for light, water and nutrients. Oak release is encouraged within The Territory, either on your own lot or within the Greenspace, through the Greenspace Stewardship Program. If there is an oak near you that you would like to release, please contact me.
Originally appeared in the Territory Times October 2020
We have been in a droughty period for about four weeks and it got me thinking about how to properly care for our yards going into the winter.
Annuals and perennials typically fare better during droughty periods, perhaps because they show symptoms of drought more quickly than our trees and shrubs and we respond to those signs more quickly. Wilted leaves and stems perk up shortly after being watered, so we observe immediate impacts of drought stress and relief. Our woody plants are also impacted by drought, but symptoms aren’t obvious until they are really stressed. Short term drought damage includes wilting, leaf scorch and defoliation. This is what we are experiencing as of early September, since our dry conditions have been going on for about a month. Long-term droughts, like what we experienced in 2012, can cause stunted growth, branch die-back and mortality, even in mature trees. It can take three to five years for trees to die from drought stress. Secondary problems arise when a tree is stressed, such as infestations by wood borers and bark beetles or infections of pathogens. Typically, a healthy tree or shrub can defend itself from insects and disease, but if stressed by other factors (drought, age), it can be colonized readily.

HELP PLANTS WITHSTAND A DROUGHT
The first consideration is plant selection, to choose the right plant for your location and conditions. If you’re not in the planning phase, but dealing with plants already in the ground, make sure they are growing in optimal conditions. Ideally, trees and shrubs should be surrounded by a mulch ring. Mulch helps hold moisture in the ground and as it breaks down, adds organic material to the soil around the tree. On the other hand, turf grass competes with the tree for moisture and increases the chance of the trunk being nicked by a lawnmower or trimmer. Trees and shrubs should also be watered during a drought. Because of their sizable root systems, they should be watered deeply, but infrequently. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses and useful for this, but you can also use a sprinkler with the hose turned on low. For larger trees, this will take some time as the sprinkler should be moved around to adequately water the fine feeder roots, which can extend beyond the canopy. Ideally, trees should receive one to 2 inches of water per week. This can be measured with a rain gauge or collecting water in a coffee can or similar. Prioritize what you water to trees and shrubs that have been in the ground five or less years. If it stays dry, deciduous and evergreen trees should be watered until the ground begins to freeze, typically in early November.
The shape, flowers and leaf colors
of trees add beauty to our landscapes.
They also help provide privacy
and valuable shade to help cool
our homes and make spending time
in the yard more enjoyable. Like any
other living thing, trees have a life
span. Sometimes its many hundreds
of years, like oak trees. Others species
are short-lived and any tree can
have its life span shortened by pests,
disease, injury or decay.
WHAT HAPPENS TO A TREE
AFTER IT DIES?
The tree’s wood becomes dry because
the flow of water and nutrients
has stopped. As the conductive
tissues dry out and become brittle,
there is less structural integrity and
limbs are susceptible to breakage.
Look for holes in limbs and cracks
or fissures in the bark or wood. It
is also possible for the entire dead
tree to fail at or below the ground.
Also, look for loose dirt at the base
or a tree leaning at a new angle,
especially if the tree was already
growing at an awkward angle.
FALLEN LIMBS POSE
PLUSES AND PROBLEMS
All dead trees will lose limbs and
eventually fail. In the woods, fallen
limbs provide valuable cavities
and habitat for wildlife. It is much
safer when dead trees are left in the
woods versus in your lawn or near
structures. Falling limbs can cause
property damage if the limb lands
on a structure or vehicle. They can
also be fatal if the limb lands on a
person or pet. Property damage
from dead trees can also affect a
neighbor’s property.
Besides the danger factor from
falling limbs, dead trees can attract
pests, such as carpenter ants,
termites and wood borers. These
pests can also take advantage of
weak or rotting wood in homes and
other structures, compounding the
problem.
TERRITORY SEES INCREASE
OF DEAD ASH TREES
The last couple of years in The
Territory, the number of dead ash
trees has increased dramatically due
to mortality from the emerald ash
borer (EAB). Ash trees that died due
to an infestation of EAB are problematic
because they become brittle
and are prone to breakage more
quickly than “normal” dead ash
trees or other species.
Ash trees have a thinner ring
of conductive tissue (xylem and
phloem) below their bark than other
species of trees. The EAB larvae lives
and feeds on the conductive tissue
of the trees. This damage cuts off
the flow of water and nutrients,
causing the tree to desiccate sooner
and more quickly. The damage from
feeding also leads to internal breaks
in the structural wood that bears
the weight of limbs. Unpredictable
structural failures often result.
Limbs can break and fall at any
point along the branch and trunk
failures typically occur less than 24
inches above grade.
REMOVE TREES THAT THREATEN
SAFETY OR DAMAGE
The Galena Territory Association
encourages you to remove dead
trees that potentially threaten the
safety of property owners and their
property. Dead trees in the woods
should be left as habitat for native
wildlife where possible. Per our
rules and regulations, dead trees
larger than 4 inches in diameter
need to be approved before removal.
Please contact me to request
consent.