Silver Creek Preserve will return to forest

News-DemocratFebruary 25, 2014 

A group from Trinity Services based in Mascoutah walk the Silver Creek Preserve Trail in 2012. The St. Clair County Soil and Water Conservation District will remove invasive species and plant hardwood trees in the 200-plus acre, county-owned Silver Creek Preserve.

DERIK HOLTMANN — dholtmann@bnd.com Buy Photo

A new forestry program promises to return a preserve near Mascoutah to a "top notch bottomland hardwood forest."

The St. Clair County Soil and Water Conservation District will oversee the removal of invasive species and planting of hardwood trees in the 200-plus acre, county-owned Silver Creek Preserve. The St. Clair County Board unaninmously approved the management plan on Monday.

The plan is laid out in two phases over two years and is estimated to cost about $100,000. The county funds are earmarked for conservation, according to Katrina Theiss. Theiss is a resource conservationist with the Conservation District.

Theiss said placing the area back into natural hardwood habitat will provide the lowest possible maintenance cost to the county.

"Fighting Mother Nature costs money, working with her costs less," Theiss said. The county will also have the possibility of gaining income by eventually harvesting mature hardwood trees.

The first phase will remove invasive species from 120 acres of forest next to Brickyard Road and then plant bottom land hardwoods in the open areas of the forest in the spring of 2015. For example, Bradford pear trees will be removed to allow native oaks to thrive.

The second phase will remove invasive species and prepare an additional 80 acres of the preserve. Hardwoods will be planted on those 80 acres in the spring of 2015.

As part of the forestry program, the county is required to do a selective harvest on the 120 acres near Brickyard Road and remove invasive species on the other 80 acres in about 10 years.

After the first decade of growth, the forest should leaf over and invasive species control could be done in conjunction with a selective harvest.

The preserve is located southwest of Mascoutah and includes a walking trail, pavilion and picnic tables.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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