Maintaining our
wooded heritage for
future generations.
      N 43° 21.598'
      W 81° 17.683'
      Elev. 1064 ft.
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May 5th, 2019

The Sawyer Preservation Woodlot Association was established in 1989 and acts as a "trustee and guardian" for a 28.61 acre wooded tract located in rural southwestern Ontario. The mandate is to manage the property so as to maintain Woodpile the richness and diversity of the species within its boundaries and to encourage and promote stewardship of the declining wooded areas of this country. In so doing, the property is maintained as a demonstration woodlot and conservation area where the public is welcome.

The woodlot often hosts organized visits ranging from school children to the "Back Road Tours". Abundant flora and fauna attracts a broad spectrum of individuals -- conservation specialists -- the serious nature lover -- those simply wishing solitude. Each visit will provide a new experience. Every day is different -- each season presents its own offering. Wildlife abounds. Residents and transients; common and rare. Each encounter provides that tingle of excitement as one takes in what nature has to offer.

Woodlot NightLife
June, 2018
Woodlot NightLife

Another Woodlot Threat Coming Our Way
March, 2018
Oak Wilt — fungal pathogen (Ceratocystis fagacearum)
Oak Wilt Oak Wilt results from a fungal infection that creates fungus colonies under the bark of oak trees that prevent nutrient flow. Once infected, the tree usually dies within a year. At this point, it appears that all oaks are vulnerable, but so far does not extend to other tree species.

You first notice the problem when the tree begins to "brown" beginning at the top, and individual leaves take on an appearance as shown here. Closer inspection will identify bark sections that have cracked and raised due to a fungus mat just below the surface. Progression varies from tree to tree, but the end result will be the same.

To this point in time, there have been no confirmed cases of Oak Wilt in Canada. However, more than 100 oak trees have been lost on Belle Isle in the Detroit River — a mere 600 metres from Windsor. To date, more than a half million oaks have been lost in Michigan State Parks alone. There are numerous infected pockets on the west side of Lake Huron ... about 150 km from our shore. It is not impossible for the fungus spores (or the transporting insects) to get caught up in a weather incident and travel across the lake to our doorstep.

Oak Wilt The fungus spreads in 2 ways. Firstly, sap and bark feeding beetles are attracted to ailing or damaged trees and, as they feed, they pick up the fungus spores and then transport them to their next tree. The most active time for this are the months of April through August. Secondly, the fungus can transport systemically and will spread through the tree's root structure to neighbouring oaks. Oaks are known to have interconnected root systems.

There is no practical cure or treatment for this disease, however some areas are working with fungicides but cost and physical danger discourage this. Prevention is the only course of action. Do not prune, cut or damage the tree during the vulnerable months. If such happens, fully paint open wounds with a wound or latex paint. This will prevent or discourage the sap beetle activity. Remove dead/infected trees. Chipping, splitting, debarking, burning or burying works. DO NOT transport the wood, as fungal spores can survive in the dead wood for more than a year, and you do not want to move it into a clean area.

For more information, go to the Oak Wilt Fact Sheet.

Spring Update 2017
April 14, 2017

An early season inspection of the woodlot provided a very encouraging portal. Visitation day was sunny, 20C, light winds — very positive when you look back at the ups & downs of the previous 4+ months.

Pileated WoodpeckerThere was considerable wildlife activity — ducks, squirrels, lots of small birds, and even some orange butterflies. The most notable were the large red-capped pileated woodpeckers. At least 6 were counted with 2 nesting sites identified — one in a willow by the stream, and the other in the northeast corner of the woodlot. After being casual visitors for the past couple of years, perhaps they are going to become permanent residents. There was no evidence of wild turkey but a few deer tracks were present. And yes, some gnats and a few files put in an appearance, but you can still leave the insect repellant at home for a few more weeks.

In 2014, 30 trees were planted in the mid-section of the woodlot. The white pines have been thriving. Several of them produced 18"-24" of new growth over last season. The winter snow load did impact them and some could benefit from guy-strings to bring them back to vertical.

Pine planting 2014 Pine planting 3 years later
April 14, 2017 April 21, 2014

As for the hemlocks, they have wintered well and also have shown good growth over 3 years, but not as dramatic as the pines. A few have encountered issues with their leaders probably as a result of snow/ice damage in a previous winter — but they are healthy and thriving. As for the tamaracks, they do not put their best face forward at this time of the year, but are budding and will provide a better image in a few weeks. They too are thriving and have more than doubled their height. Of the 30 trees planted, the mortality count appears to be 2.

The perimeter trails (Highland, Ash & Brookside) are clear and in good condition with only a few minor wet spots. As is typical at this time of the year, the Lowland trail is not passable due to flooding. In a couple of locations the trail is blocked by fallen debris that will be removed once drying occurs. Hillside 1 & 2 trails both have wet-to-flooded sections.

As for fallen trees, no major occurrences, but numerous smaller dead ash trees have left the vertical. A number of them have tipped into other stands and need to be brought to the ground for the benefit of the other trees. In general, it looks like our tree casualty rate has declined dramatically. Perhaps we can now focus more on the living rather than the dying. We will still have ongoing tree pruning for woodlot safety and tree health.

The years following the hickory and ash die-off will produce dramatic changes. A younger tree population now exists and much more light is getting in. We will see species take hold that have been dormant for years. Mother Nature will set the course. Your association will hold her hand moving forward.

Have you recently visited the Saywer Preservation Woodlot? If so, please let us know about your experiences. A form is provided for that purpose on our Contact page.

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