Reducing the overstory canopy and adding periodic burning

The 8.4-acre Luckey Oak Woodland restoration has been in process since 1998. This has involved removing the woody understory vegetation and deadening selected overstory trees (typically non-oak species) by girdling. The girdled trees were left standing for birds that nest in cavities and forage on bark. The reduction of overstory canopy coverage to 50-75% allowed for increased sunlight to the woodland floor. Periodic burning was begun in 2001 and generally continues every three years.

Native Plants and Birds

On the 5.6 acres currently restored, a significant native herbaceous ground cover has developed. This includes species endemic to oak woodland such as: Pennsylvania sedge, bottlebrush grass, fire pink, starry campion, false toadflax, huckleberry, prairie alumroot, two-flowered Cynthia and blue-eyed grass. The high, open canopy of black oak, white oak and hickory trees, along with the standing girdled snags, has attracted significant populations of red-headed and pileated woodpeckers. Work will continue on the remaining 2.8 acres in the years ahead.

The northwest corner of Luckey Woodland looking north, pretreatment (July 1998)

The northeast corner of Luckey Woodland, pretreatment; S. Sand Hill Savanna in the background, on the right side (December 2002).

After Restoration Work

The northwest corner of Luckey Woodland looking north, after understory removal and first burn (April 2001).

The west slope of Luckey Woodland, with wild lupine in the foreground (May 2010)

North view through Luckey Woodland, summer after first burn (June 2001)


Common rockrose (Helianthemum canadense) on top of Luckey Woodland ridge, first observed in 2005 (May 2012, photo – John Smith)