Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) was introduced in this country in 1830 as an ornamental shrub and cultivated for wildlife habitat and erosion control. It is drought and disease resistant and tolerates poor soil. Birds and mammals enjoy eating the fruit and and major disbursers of the seed. As a result, Autumn Olive is found throughout the landscape. It is one of the major invasive species at JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary and controlling existing and new autumn olive shrubs will be a staple of many of our work days.
On December 4, 17 volunteers led by Gerco Hoogeweg enjoyed comfortable temperatures to remove many young Autumn Olive shrubs. Armed with loppers, clippers and handsaws, we worked for an hour in the tree planting area around the Wood Duck vernal pool and the western meadow. With that many hard-working people, we were able to clear the area.
Next we focused our attention on trail maintenance along the Western Meadow, Fairy Shrimp and Eastern Meadow trails. This was a nice opportunity for all to see other parts of JK Black Oak. Along the trails we removed Multiflora Rose, Autumn Olive, several Bradford Pear trees and Chinese Privet. Near a manmade structure, which we think is a cistern, in the middle of the property, one enterprising volunteer took down a large Privet shrub using just a handsaw. Around noon we ended the trail work near the LeSabre pool and enjoyed the nice weather for a while.
To protect the environmentally sensitive habitat and rare species, JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary is not open for general public access.