Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deer exclosure at Veterans Park

If you have driven past Veterans Park on Hopkins Road recently, you probably have noticed a large fenced area in the woods adjacent to the parking lot. This 10 x 20-meter structure is a deer exclosure, one of seven that are monitored by Lake Metroparks throughout the county. This area was selected after so many of the mature trees were taken down by the devastating winds of Hurricane Sandy.

If you are looking for a white-tailed deer inside the exclosure, you won’t see one. The space is designed to keep deer out to monitor the plants inside versus the plants on the outside. this will provide an index of what the impact of browse is by the white-tailed deer on that plant community.

The deer exclosure will have an important interpretive value to the public as, literally, they will see the structure from the parking lot and learn from it what impact it has on protecting the plant life within.

A small deer herd only makes a small impact, but too many deer consume the seeds of a forest’s future growth. Over time, these impacts create a visible browse line in the forest (see above).

Tom Adair, Parks Services Director, in an interview on the "Around Town" program on Mentor TV, said with the elimination of plant life, we will see a related loss or decrease in the diversity of insect life, bird life and mammal life as it relates to Veterans Park.

"Lake Metroparks has monitored the growth of white trillium in this area over the past 10 to 15 years and we have records that showed us that there were over 1,000 white trillium on a small plot, a 10' x 10' area," said Adair. "That site within the past two to three years has yielded no more than a dozen white trillium."

Plants inside the fenced area at Veterans Park are now protected from deer. Over time, this will show us how a healthy forest in Northeast Ohio can recover.

Click here to watch the video. The deer exclosure is the first segment of the program.

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