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Hidden Creek Savanna

Forest Park Forever & Great Rivers, with financial support from the Missouri Department of Conservation worked together to create the Hidden Creek Savanna restoration project.

       The project area runs along Wells Drive in between Central Fields and the Upper Muny Parking Lot, and consists of nearly 4 acres of potential savanna and a quarter mile of stream bed. Forest Park Forever would like to offer the Missouri Master Naturalists the opportunity to participate in the restoration process, and develop a local ecosystem in the heart of St Louis. Forest Park is visited by over 12 million visitors.

       Forest Park Forever has already contracted with a local company to do the bulk of the hard labor in the restoration process. The stream bank has already been regraded and erosion fabric installed on highly erodible areas. The entire area has already been seeded in with a grass and forb mix, consisting of at least 30 different species. The work that remains to be done is perhaps the most flexible and creative part of the process turning this restoration site into a place with character.

       The Master Naturalists would have the opportunity to plant in 4000 plugs this Spring (in conjunction with Forest Park Forever staff), and could take responsibility for designing certain areas of the restoration site. While all plans must be approved by the Nature Reserve Foreman, there is significant potential for introduction of rare and interesting species, or unique communities within this restoration site. The area also provides the opportunity to conduct any sort of work that is desired – bird monitoring, insect surveys, plant monitoring to learn seedlings and monitor restoration progress. The amount of work, the scale of work, and the scope of work would be up to the Master Naturalists. The only project we would ask assistance with is the Spring (mid-late April) planting of the plugs.

         As a new restoration site, the area has a lot of potential for management but also for study. Forest Park Forever has fulfilled the minimum requirements for the grant and the restoration, and any other work that is done is icing on the cake. The obligations on the project would be low, but the potential would be high. Forest Park Forever would be happy to have this project selected by the Missouri Master Naturalists, and would work with interested parties to help design sampling regimes, select and time plant introductions, or just brainstorm project ideas. 

Missouri Master Naturalist Great Rivers Chapter Hidden Creek Savanna Project in Forest Park Surveys Performed in 2014

Updated: 01/19/2015

Surveys

The Chapter performs a number of surveys at Hidden Creek Savanna each year, around the same time each year.  If you would like to participate in an upcoming survey, please contact Sherri Schmidt.

Listed below is a summary of surveys performed by the Missouri Master Naturalist Great Rivers Chapter members at the Forest Park Hidden Creek Savanna site in 2014.

Wildlife Monitoring

Birds

- Initial survey: 7/10/2010 - Plan to survey 4 times a year, at least once a season. - Winter survey done in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). - 2014 surveys: 

02/16/2014 (winter, GBBC) 04/11/2014 (spring) 07/12/2014 (summer) 10/18/14 (fall) Highlights – Observed many birds this year, but among the more unusual were: - Two male Flickers fighting in the wetland area (04/11/14) - A Cooper's Hawk flew over during the fall survey (10/18/14).

Pollinators

- Initial survey: 9/18/2010 - Plan to survey twice a year (summer & fall) - An insect expert from the St. Louis Zoo attended both surveys as a guest to help us identify pollinators and educate participants on insect identification. - 2014 surveys: 

06/21/2014 (summer) 09/27/14 (fall)

Highlights:

- During the 06/21/14 survey, observed a variety of bees (American Bumble Bees, Brown Belted Bumble Bee, Eastern Bumble Bee, Two-spotted Bumble Bee, Honey Bees, Leaf-Cutter Bees,  Solitary Bees & Sweat Bees), dragonflies,  flies (Hover/Syrphid fly, Long-legged Dance fly)  and a variety of butterflies (Cabbage White, Eastern-Tailed Blue, Great Spangled Fritillary, Orange Sulphur, Pipevine Swallowtail & Spicebush Swallowtail ).  

- During the 09/27/14 survey, the highlight was observing two Monarch Caterpillars at Hidden Creek Savanna for the 1st time during one of our surveys - one appeared to be a 4th instar, and the other a 5th instar.  We also sighted Monarch Butterflies 3 times.  We observed a variety of bees (Carpenter Bee, Digger Bee, Eastern Bumblebees, Honey Bees & Leaf Cutter), butterflies (Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphurs, Orange Sulphur, Pearl Crescent),  dragonflies, flies (Hover flies, Techinid fly), and wasps. 

Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians

- Instead of scheduling regular surveys, members note any mammals, reptiles or amphibians observed when performing other surveys.  

- We observed a raccoon in a tree near the wetland area during the 04/13/14 bird survey.  We also saw a squirrel in the prairie area and a mouse in the woodland area.
- We observed multiple frogs, one identified as a Leopard Frog in the wetland area during the 09/27/14 pollinator survey.
- We observed a rabbit in the creek near the road during the 06/21/14 plant survey.

Vegetation Monitoring

Prairie Plants & Wetland Plants

- Initial survey: 07/24/2010 - Plan to survey 3 times a year (spring, summer, fall) - Have performed the surveys at three one meter square sites – one located in the wetland area, one in the sunny prairie area and one in the shady area. Other plants are noted in the areas surrounding the survey sites. - This year the spring plant survey was performed very late due to scheduling conflicts. - 2014 surveys: 

06/21/2014 (spring)
08/02/2014 (summer)
09/27/2014 (fall)

Highlights:

- Some plants observed during the 06/21/14 survey included Blazing Star, Crownbeard (blooming), Golden Alexander, Gray Headed Coneflower (blooming), Lizard Tail, Rush,  Swamp Milkweed, White Wild Indigo and Wild Bergamot (some blooming). 

- Some plants observed during the 08/02/14 survey included Big Bluestem, Blazing Star (blooming), Common Milkweed,   Culver's Root (blooming), Gray Headed Coneflower (blooming), Iris, Iron Weed (blooming), Joe Pye Weed (blooming), Lizard Tail, Rattlesnake Master, Rose Mallow (blooming), Royal Catchfly (blooming), Rudbeckia (blooming), Rush, Swamp Milkweed (blooming), Wild Bergamot and Wild Indigo.  A Water Canna was also observed in the creek in the woodland area.  For the first time since we have been doing plant surveys at Hidden Creek Savanna, we saw a Monkey Flower in the wetland area.  

- Some plants observed during the 09/27/14 plant survey included Brown-eyed Susan (blooming), Crownbeard (blooming), Goldenrod (blooming), New England Aster (blooming), and Swamp Milkweed (blooming) in several areas of Hidden Creek Savanna.

The Chapter maintains spreadsheets with the results from each type of survey. The data from 2014 surveys will be entered into the appropriate spreadsheet. The results can be viewed on the Chapter website, and shared with Chapter members and other interested organizations, like Forest Park Forever.

  

 

Missouri Master Naturalist Great Rivers Chapter
Hidden Creek Savanna Project in Forest Park
Surveys Performed in 2013

Updated: 12/16/2013

Surveys

Listed below are surveys performed by the Missouri Master Naturalist Great Rivers Chapter members at the Forest Park Hidden Creek Savanna site in 2013.

Wildlife Monitoring

Birds

- Initial survey: 7/10/2010
- Plan to survey 4 times a year, at least once a season.
- Winter survey done in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count.
- 2013 surveys: 02/16/2013 (winter, GBBC)
04/26/2013 (spring)
07/13/2013 (summer)
10/18/13 & 10/19/2013 (fall)
Highlights – Observed many birds this year, but among the more unusual were:
- a male & a female Mallard Duck during the 04/26/13 survey. Also saw Brown Thrashers constructing a nest in the wetland area during the same survey.
- During the 7/27/13 plant survey, observed a hummingbird at a Royal Catchfly in the sunny prairie area.
- Saw a flock of American Pelicans fly over and saw a Red-shouldered Hawk during the 10/18/13 survey. Also observed 2 Common Yellowthroats during the 10/19/13 survey.

Pollinators

- Initial survey: 9/18/2010
- Plan to survey twice a year (summer & fall)
- An insect expert from the St. Louis Zoo attended each survey as a guest to help us identify pollinators and educate participants on insect identification.
- 2013 surveys: 06/08/2013 (summer)
09/28/13 (fall)
Highlights – Observed a variety of bees (Bumble Bees, Carpenter Bees, Honey Bees, Leaf Cutter Bees, & Sweat Bees), Skippers and moths during the 06/08/13 survey. In addition to a variety of bees (Aster Long-horned Bee, Eastern Bumble Bees, Carpenter Bees, a Digger Bee, Honey Bees, & a Leaf Cutter), a variety of butterflies (a Buckeye, a Cabbage White, an Eastern Tailed Blue, a Painted Lady, a Pipevine Swallowtail, a Skipper, & Sulphurs), sighted Monarch Butterflies 6 times during the 09/28/13 pollinator survey.

Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians

- Instead of scheduling regular surveys, members note any mammals, reptiles or amphibians observed when performing other surveys.
- This year we observed two rabbits and two squirrels during the 07/13/13 bird survey.

Vegetation Monitoring

Prairie Plants & Wetland Plants

- Initial survey: 07/24/2010
- Plan to survey 3 times a year (spring, summer, fall)
- Have performed the surveys at three one meter square sites – one located in the wetland area, one in the sunny prairie area and one in the shady area. Other plants are noted in the areas surrounding the survey sites.
- This year we did not perform a spring plant survey due to a controlled burn at the site in March 2013.
- 2013 surveys: 07/27/2013 (summer)
09/28/2013 (fall)
Highlights – Bluebells seen were blooming in the woodland area near the creek in April. Some plants observed during the 07/27/13 survey included Big Bluestem, Crownbeard, Gray Headed Coneflower, Illinois Bundleflower, Iron Weed, Lizard Tail, Rattlesnake Master, Rose Mallow, Rush, Swamp Milkweed, Wild Bergamot and Wild Indigo. During the 07/27/13 survey it was also noted that the Royal Catchfly, a plant observed blooming every summer since our Chapter began doing surveys, appeared to have spread to more locations in the sunny prairie area. The Blazing Stars were now blooming on the woodland side of the prairie, in addition to the sunny area. Some plants observed during the 09/28/13 plant survey included Black-eyed Susan, Goldenrod, New England Asters in several areas of Hidden Creek Savanna during the 09/28/13 plant & pollinator surveys.

The Chapter maintains spreadsheets with the results from each type of survey. The data from 2013 surveys will be entered into the appropriate spreadsheet. The results can be viewed on the Chapter website, and shared with Chapter members and other interested organizations, like Forest Park Forever.

 

Physical Structures/Focal Point

Bill Mulford - Lead, Steve Hoyt

  1. Trail - A naturally paved trail will be constructed from the proposed picnic area under the large oaks near Union Drive to the stone bridge focal point area crossing the creek and possibly extending further into the oak savanna/prairie.
  2. Bridge - The stone bridge will be restored to an aesthetically pleasing appearance using original stones at the site and will serve as the central architectural feature at the focal point. If possible, the creek area beneath the stone bridge central arch will be cleared so the stream can flow freely beneath the bridge. The stone bridge will be extended to cross the creek, using a boulder base and a large flat rock slab bridge extension. The floor of the stone bridge would be paved with crushed stone to match the height of the rock slab extension. Alternately the stone bridge could be extended across the creek with a new wooden foot bridge (see the attached drawings for an overview of the proposed oak savanna/prairie focal point).
  3. Pergolas - Two natural pergola structures will be constructed, one at the entrance to the bridge and on the opposite side of the bridge, mirroring each other. These pergolas will be constructed of natural materials, e.g. cedar logs and lumber, with cedar branches arching over the top (see attached photo for an example of this type of natural decorative pergola).
  4. Benches - A minimum of 6 benches will be constructed in place using treated pine 6 inch x 6-inch posts for the legs and natural cedar plank lumber for the seats (see attached photo). These benches would be located near the pergolas on either or both sides of the creek, depending on how plans for an education area at the central focal point develop.
  5. Signs/Educational Displays - At least two educational signs, constructed of weatherproof material to be determined, will be placed near one or both of the pergolas for educational use when school or other groups visit the oak savanna/ prairie focal point. We propose one heavy duty white plastic sign showing the root systems of prairie plants displaying the plants in green with brown root systems (see attached photo), and the other display might consist of a prairie grass, e.g. big bluestem, pressed between clear Plexiglas panels.
  6. Gardens - Small demonstration gardens would be designed and planted at four locations, two on each side of the creek adjacent to the pergolas. The Great Rivers MMN teams responsible for prairie/savanna plants and wetland plants would plan and establish these demonstration garden spaces. Possible choices would include savanna wildflower garden, monarch butterfly way station, rain garden, and wetland stream-side garden.

Wetlands

Michael Wohlstadter - Lead, Marypat Ehlmann, Pam Wilcox

Location

The primary area is the triangle of land across the road to the North. This will be referred to as “The Wetland”. The Wetland is separate from the main body of the tract. Other candidate areas include capturing the runoff from the road (near the “T” to the South West of the tract). However, due to the slope of the land, this may not be practical. This candidate area would be “The Raingarden”. Furthermore, as the creek banks are restored, vegetation will need to be planted along the stream to stabilize the banks. These areas will be referred to as “The Riparian Corridor”.

Plants

In all cases, plants chosen will be Missouri native species. All attempts will be made to acquire local varieties/local seed stock.Note also, the following are presented as suggestions. The Riparian Corridor plants especially need review as they are heavily biased towards wildflowers some of which are ephemeral.Additionally, most of the plants are terrestrial as opposed to aquatic. Further research and recommendations are required in that area.

The Wetland - intermittent water
NameHeightBloom
Amsonia illustris “Shining Blue Star” 2- 3 feet May
Asclepias incarnata “Swamp Milkweed” 4 - 5 feet July - August
Cephalanthus occidentalis “Buttonbush” 5 - 12 feet June
Juncus effusus “Common Rush” 2 - 4 feet June - August
Lindera benzoin “Spicebush” 6 - 12 feet March
Mimulus ringens “Monkey Flower” 1 - 3 feet June - September
Physocarpus opulifolius “Ninebark” 5 - 8 feet May - June
Physostegia virginiana “Obedient Plant” 3 - 4 feet June - September
The Wetland - constant water
NameHeightBloom
Iris fulva “Copper Iris” 2 - 3 feet May - June
Polygonum coccineum “Water Smartweed” 4 - 5 feet June - October
Sagittaria graminea “Arrowhead” 1.5 - 2 feet May - September
Saururus cernuus “Lizard's Tail” 1 - 2 feet June - September
The Raingarden
NameHeightBloom
Aster novae-angliae “New England Aster” 3 - 6 feet August - September
Carex muskingumensis “Palm Sedge” 2 - 3 feet May - September
Chelone oblique “Rose Turtlehead” 2 - 3 feet July - August
Lobelia cardinalis “Cardinal Flower” 2 - 4 feet July - September
Hibiscus lasiocarpos “Rose Mallow” 3 - 7 feet July - October
Rudbeckia subtomentosa “Sweet Coneflower” 3 - 5 feet July - October
Scutellaria incana “Downy Skullcap” 2 - 3 feet July - September
Veronicastrum virginicum “Culver's Root” 4 - 7 feet May - August
The Riparian Corridor - shaded
NameHeightBloom
Asarum canadense “Wild Ginger” 0.5 - 1 foot April - May
Mertensia virginica “Bluebells” 1.5 - 2 feet March - April
Polygonatum biflorum “Solomon's Seal” 1 - 3 feet April - May
Trillium recurvatum “Purple Trillium” 1 - 1.5 feet April - May
Uvularia grandiflora “Bellwort” 1.5 - 2 feet April - May
The Riparian Corridor - full sun to part shade
NameHeightBloom
Hamamelis vernalis “Ozark Witchhazel” 6 - 10 feet January - April
(Possibly include species from The Raingarden.)
Structures/Trails

Continue the trail from the Southern portion of the tract into The Wetland. Within The Wetland build a boardwalk.Signs discussing the importance of wetlands and the role they play. Include a discussion of ground water, water table, storm runoff among other.Construct a raingarden. Possible locations include between the Capstone area and the fields. The slope of the land there should make the construction of a “bowl” for the raingarden more feasible. However, we still need to perform a flow analysis to establish the feasibility.

Prairie/Savanna Plants

Glen Horton - Lead, Jeanne Koebbe, Paul NewettThe site had an initial planting of winter wheat & grasses to stabilize and protect the area from erosion. Seeds were added last fall. Future plantings probably should wait for maturation of those forbs originally planted.

Surveys/Monitoring

Sherri Schmidt - Lead, Marypat Ehlmann, Glen Horton, Jeanne Koebbe, John Vandover

Overview

Our goal is to develop as complete a record as possible of the various plants, birds, mammals and insects that either inhabit or visit the project site. We intend to gather data throughout all four seasons. The monitoring plan should provide the Great Rivers Chapter and Forest Park Forever with an accurate record of what is growing, inhabiting, and visiting the site not only now, but especially in the future, after the site’s plantings are established.Obviously our efforts in this first year at the site will be mostly focused on getting the initial plantings successfully established. However this first year will also give us an excellent opportunity to establish a baseline on what is and is not there. As the natural environments are restored at the site, the surveys can be used to identify the birds, mammals and insects attracted to both visit and inhabit the site. The plant surveys can help identify which plants thrive in the restored areas.

Initial Surveys

Determine what general categories the team would like to survey and monitor. The following categories have been suggested:

  • - Vegetation monitoring
    • Prairie plants
    • Wetland plants
    • Trees
  • - Wildlife monitoring
    • Birds
    • Pollinators
    • Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Mammals
  • - Data on any invasive species will be included in the categories selected.

Determine how the team would like to perform the surveys and monitoring for each category the team selects

  • - Steve Buback, Nature Reserve Foreman of Forest Park Forever, provided documentation on vegetative surveys performed previously in the park. The following method was described in the document:

    MethodsThe sampling was done using quadrants aligned to bisect the major palettes. This method was chosen over a grid in the interest of sampler time as well as a fear that a grid would miss substantially different communities and thus would not accurately sample the existent diversity. The plants generally show little fidelity to any particular palette, but arranging transects by palette will allow us to measure community shift over time and assess whether the palettes were ultimately appropriate. Species were identified and the number of vegetative stems of each species within the quadrant was recorded.

In the categories where Forest Park Forever has already performed surveys, the Survey/Monitoring Team would like to use the same methodology as the one used Forest Park Forever, so our data can potentially be used with the Forest Park Forever data.In the categories where Forest Park Forever has not performed surveys, and/or does not have a recommended methodology, the Survey/Monitoring Team would propose using survey methods recommended by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) or methods recommended by other organizations performing routine surveys (such as the American Butterfly Association).Note - any survey method would not be formalized until after a discussion with Steve.Schedule initial surveys

  • - Some categories could be done immediately
  • - Some surveys may need to wait until other tasks have been performed (such as planting, or repairs.)
  • - Determine if any initial surveys may have already been performed.
Monitoring

Determine a schedule to monitor survey areas/categories.

Results

Determine where to keep survey & monitoring results.

  • - The Team would like the data to be available for the Great Rivers Chapter and Missouri Master Naturalists
  • - As mentioned previously, the data could also potentially be combined with other data gathered and used by Forest Park Forever.
  • - Determine if any other groups like the Missouri Department of Conservation would like to utilize the data.

    MethodsThe sampling was done using quadrats aligned to bisect the major palettes. This method was chosen over a grid in the interest of sampler time as well as a fear that a grid would miss substantially different communities and thus would not accurately sample the existent diversity. The plants generally show little fidelity to any particular palette, but arranging transects by palette will allow us to measure community shift over time and assess whether the palettes were ultimately appropriate. Species were identified and the number of vegetative stems of each species within the quadrat was recorded.I believe the Survey/Monitoring Team should use the same method as suggested in the document, so our data can potentially be used with that collected by Forest Park.As for wildlife surveys, should we use the same sites chosen for the vegetation monitoring to perform those surveys? Has anyone received feedback from MDC on wildlife surveys? Does anyone know if Forest Park current performs any wildlife surveys? One possibility - for birds we could use a method similar to that used for the Great Backyard Bird Count.Please let me know your thoughts and pass along any information on sampling methods for wildlife.

Seed Collection/Distribution

Jeanne Koebbe - Lead, Bill Mulford, Sherri Schmidt, John Vandover, Michael Wohlstadter

Maintenance

Maintenance will be an ongoing effort especially in the outgoing years following implementation of the planned phases. This will include controlling invasive plants, determining where and when to mow (in the absence of controlled burns), seeding where necessary.

Water Quality

Sue Schoening - Lead, Michael Wohlstadter, Pam WilcoxThe plan is to monitor the creek water quality through out the year. Procedures will be established to allow collected data to be shared with Forest Park Forever as well as any other interested agency.

Documentation and Archives

Marypat Ehlmann - Lead, Sherri Schmidt, Michael WohlstadterThroughout our Great Rivers Creek Project, a summary of meetings, drafts, descriptions, progress and pictures will be kept in a binder available for membership viewing at monthly chapter meetings. Also, progress bullets will be posted on our Great Rivers Missouri Master Naturalist website.

2013-07-27 Prairie Blazing Star
 
2013-07-27 Floating Primrose Ludwigia peploides
 
 
Plant Survey 2013-07-27
 
2013-06-19 Common Milkweed
 
 
2013-04-26 Robin nest
 
2013-04-26 Bluebells
 
2013-04-26 Tree Swallow
 
2013-04-26 Mallards