The Oak Openings is a rare and special region in northwest Ohio. It's also a region that has undergone constant change. Development in the area, invasive species (including the emerald ash borer) and other factors have drastically altered the landscape.
Metroparks has an active land management program to preserve the unique characteristics of the Oak Openings, but new challenges continue to crop up.
The most recent change to the landscape was a spring 2010 tornado that impacted 147 of the 3,765-acre preserve by toppling and damaging thousands of trees. Many hours of clean up and restoration efforts have included removal of dead and severely damaged trees. This winter, a contractor removed the remaining slash (branches and stumps), as well as planting trees in the affected area in a project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Metroparks land management plans for the tornado-impacted sites are an effort to sustain regional biodiversity for future generations of Lucas County residents. These efforts include:
Control populations of woody and non-woody invasive plant species
Prior to cleanup, the storm damage prevented Metroparks staff from safely and effectively managing these areas to control invasive plant species. Undesirable species will now be removed to prevent them from threatening the ecological health of surrounding habitats.
Increase connectivity among globally rare savanna and prairie habitats
The area damaged by the storm lies in close proximity to globally significant savanna and prairie habitats that are currently managed by Metroparks staff to sustain their unique plant and animal diversity. �Removal of the storm damage will create natural corridors for the movement of wildlife species, such as the endangered Karner blue butterfly, between these areas.
Reintroduce native prairie species to improve habitat for wildlife
Historically, the area damaged by the storm was made up of savanna and prairie habitats. Metroparks staff will actively restore this area by planting native prairie grasses and wildflowers on selected sites to improve habitat for rare wildlife species such as Karner blue butterflies and lark sparrows.