In late November 2023, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy received excellent news that our meadow restoration grant application with Microsoft and the Society for Ecological Restoration was approved. With this grant we will acquire some much-needed equipment to maintain meadows and water newly planted perennials, add cages to protect tree seedlings and propagate native plants for a fall 2024 planting. For the next year, we will focus on meadow restoration in the areas directly east and south of the parking lot.
The December 2 work day at JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary marked the start of the meadow restoration project. Several areas in the meadow are being slowly overtaken by invasive vines and shrubs, so removing them was the first step. Armed with loppers and saws, we tackled an area full of Autumn Olives. The cut shrubs were used to create brush piles that form both habitat for wildlife and a barrier with the road. With 18 volunteers, it took just a couple of hours to remove many shrubs and create an open area.
A small group of people installed a donated bench made from recycled plastic near the Fairy Shrimp vernal pool. This pool is always good for watching wildlife when it is filled with water in the winter and spring. Installing the bench did not require many tools. In fact, we only needed an Allen wrench, which was included in the package — very handy.
After a break for snacks and water, we focused on vernal pool maintenance. We removed invasives on one side of the LeSabre Pool and dug a small depression near the edge of the currently dry pool. Sediment has started to fill up this pool, and we plan to address this in the next few years. For now, we hope that this depression will contain water a little longer for wildlife to use. The depression is strategically located in front of the nature blind to provide opportunities for photographing wildlife.
This December work day was the last for the season. We will shut down for the winter and start again on April 6, 2024. Thank you to all the volunteers who have participated throughout 2023.
To protect the environmentally sensitive habitat and rare species, JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary is not open for general public access.