Stewardship Plan for Luther College Natural Areas Plan for Luther College Natural Areas ... Luther College…

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<ul><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Table of Contents i</p><p> Stewardship Plan for Luther College Natural Areas Prepared by Eric Baack and Beth Lynch (Biology Department) with assistance from Jason Hagemeier (11), Ruth Kath (Modern Languages), Lee Zieke Lee (Winneshiek County Conservation Board), Kirk Larsen (Biology Department), and Rich Tenneson (Facilities Services). Approved by Board of Regents, October 29, 2010 Table of Contents Page Part I Purpose and scope of the plan 1 </p><p>Part II Northeast quadrant 6 </p><p>Part III Northwest quadrant 10 </p><p>Part IV Southeast quadrant 15 </p><p>Part V Southwest quadrant 21 </p><p>Part VI Freeport Marsh 27 </p><p>Part VII Lionberger Preserve 30 </p><p>Appendix I Ecological background </p><p>Appendix II Invasive plant species management </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part I Scope and purpose 1</p><p>Part I. Purpose and scope of the Luther College land stewardship plan Luther College mission statement: </p><p>In the reforming spirit of Martin Luther, Luther College affirms the liberating power of faith and learning. As people of all backgrounds, we embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community, to discern our callings, and to serve with distinction for the common good. As a college of the church, Luther is rooted in an understanding of grace and freedom that emboldens us in worship, study, and service to seek truth, examine our faith, and care for all Gods people. As a liberal arts college, Luther is committed to a way of learning that moves us beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger worldan education that disciplines minds and develops whole persons equipped to understand and confront a changing society. As a residential college, Luther is a place of intersection. Founded where river, woodland, and prairie meet, we practice joyful stewardship of the resources that surround us, and we strive to be a community where students, faculty, and staff are enlivened and transformed by encounters with one another, by the exchange of ideas, and by the life of faith and learning. </p><p>As an institution Luther College has made a commitment to responsible land stewardship. Joyful stewardship of the land around the college is a key part of not only our mission statement, but also of in the Sesquicentennial Strategic Plan. Imperative III of the plan, Connecting Sustainability, Stewardship, and Global Citizenship, seeks to deepen the college's commitment to a sustainable future by creating awareness and nurturing a connection to place. Purpose The purpose of this plan is to provide direction and goals for the management of campus natural and agricultural lands not developed as part of the central campus. This includes Lionberger Preserve, Freeport Marsh, and large parts of the 800 acre main campus. Not included in this plan are the observatory property on Fox Hollow Road, the central campus, the athletic fields, Baker Village (including the planned expansion), the Ashmore-Jewell Barn, the area near the radio tower and Lindeman Pond. This plan includes all areas where biological education and biodiversity are the primary goals or could be in the future. Although this plan focuses on areas outside the central campus, the plan is consistent with and builds upon the landscape vision for the central campus. In 1911, a half-century </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part I Scope and purpose 2</p><p>after the college was founded on a grassy oak savanna, Luther College implemented a landscape plan developed by Danish-born, Chicago landscape artist Jens Jensen (1860-1951). The Jensen plan for Luther College reflected the prairie and savanna communities native to the site. Jensen analyzed the site for what would grow best, grouping plants as in a natural habitat, saving the century-old bur oaks and other native trees. The landscape itself was a classroom. Jensen landscaped the 32-acre site on which Luther Colleges first buildings were established when the school was moved to the spot in 1865. Nearly 100 years after Jensens initial vision was implemented, the Luther College central campus still reflects Jens Jensens landscape vision for the college. This landscape of the central campus pays tribute to the natural heritage of the landscape around Luther College. Over time, the prairie and savanna surrounding the campus were lost to agriculture. This plan seeks, in part, to restore the ecological communities that inspired Jensen, and to connect the college more deeply with the surrounding landscape. Luther Colleges land plays a vital role in its educational mission. The diverse ecological communities educate students in courses across disciplines, from biology to German to art. The land also develops a connection to place for members of the community who use college lands for recreation. The land and its diverse communities are important their aesthetic value. In addition to these direct services the ecological communities of the land protect the Upper Iowa River from excessive runoff, protect the soils from erosion, play key roles in cycling carbon and other nutrients, and provide habitat for hundreds of native plant and animal species. All of these services depend upon diverse, healthy ecological communities, and the continued function of these communities depends on regular monitoring and regular management (including the use of prescribed fire and removal of non-native invasive species). Without fire or mowing, our prairies will revert to forest; without attention to invasive species, diverse forests will be replaced by just a handful on invasive species. In this century, maintaining native species and communities requires individuals actively caring for the land, and this care, in turn, is deeply educational. Land stewardship goals The primary goals of land use activities on the campus natural areas are: </p><p> To support the educational mission of the college, To nurture a connection with place by providing opportunities to explore, enjoy, </p><p>care for, and contemplate the natural world, To fulfill our responsibility as land stewards by sustaining and restoring the </p><p>ecological communities placed in our care. </p><p>The purpose of this plan is to describe the past and current condition of undeveloped lands owned by the college, lay out specific goals and objectives for each area, and to describe management activities necessary to achieve those objectives. </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part I Scope and purpose 3</p><p> Specific stewardship goals are informed by the natural and cultural history of this place as well as the broader landscape context. The natural history provides key information about the ecological communities present in the past, and what was necessary to maintain them. Habitat goals in this plan are informed by ecological knowledge of this place and are not driven primarily by aesthetic preferences. Prior to European settlement, the landscape around Decorah was a mixture of prairies in the wide river bottoms and broad uplands, diverse floodplain forests along river corridors, rich maple-basswood-red oak forests on north-facing slopes, oak-hickory forests on south-facing slopes, and extensive open oak woodlands and savannas. Fire, from lightning and intentional burning by Native Americans, was essential in maintaining prairie, savanna, and woodland communities. These plant communities slowed the runoff of water and nutrients to the rivers. As a result, floods peaked and receded more slowly. The river banks were gentle rather than deeply cut as they are today, and the flood plains supported wetlands and wet prairies. A look at the broader ecological context shows how Luther's lands fit in the landscape of north-eastern Iowa. There are opportunities to manage Luther lands in ways that enhance the ecological sustainability of the entire region. For example, many species of migratory song birds require large forest tracts for nesting habitat; there are opportunities on our campus to contribute to the recovery of these habitats. Similarly, Luther can play (and has played) an important role in protecting the water quality of the Upper Iowa River by engaging in good land stewardship. The cultural history of the land informs us about how humans have interacted with the landscape to create what we see today, and may also inform our goals for restoration. Some human impacts (such as the use of fire) have a long history in our area and may be useful management tools; some agricultural practices may create aesthetically pleasing and ecologically functional landscapes that we wish to perpetuate on some parts of the landscape. The landscape we see today is a product of the natural and cultural history of this place. Following Euro-American settlement, the prairies were plowed and forests logged. The loss of fire led to an increase in tree species that do not tolerate fire such as walnut, elm, black oak, and sugar maple. Savannas and woodlands filled in with these species and became closed forests. The development of farms, towns, and more recently rural housing developments have caused large blocks of habitat to be split into small fragments. Loss of prairie and forest led to erosion and more intense flooding, which cut deeper river channels with steep banks. Non-native species have benefited in this disturbed landscape. White tailed deer, once hunted to near extinction, have reached population densities far higher than they were prior to Euro-American settlement. Their preferred foods, such as many wildflowers and oak seedlings, fare poorly while other species thrive, resulting in changing species composition of the forest. Oaks, in particular, are not regenerating on the modern landscape. </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part I Scope and purpose 4</p><p>Some of the habitats present in 1840 cannot be rescued or recreated now. For example, wetlands created along the river would be isolated from the water table and would be quickly filled by sediments desposited after floods. However, in many cases, Luther College can restore natural processes to its land to support diverse ecological habitats including tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, oak woodland, flood plain forest, oak hickory forest, and maple-basswood-red oak forest. </p><p> Policy recommendations Several specific policies related to decisions about land use will be continued from the 1983 plan. These policies as well as some additional recommendations are: </p><p> This plan is to be followed by the college administration in making decisions about requests for new construction, the acquiring or sale of property, and the initiation of new campus projects. </p><p> The plan should also be followed by any individual or group planning activities that could impact the biodiversity or ecological function of the land, and include new construction (trails, buildings) or management activities (planting, harvesting, hunting, herbicide use, etc.) not prescribed in the plan. </p><p> Changes in the land use plan may be initiated by the Board of Regents, the president, the faculty, the staff, or the student body. In all cases the Land Use Committee should review the proposed changes and compare them to the goals described in this plan and would make a recommendation to the Board of Regents through the president. If the proposed activity is deemed to be inconsistent with the goals of the plan then the proposed project should to be revised or abandoned. </p><p>In addition to establishing guidelines for proposed land uses, the plan seeks to establish mechanisms to ensure that land use projects are reviewed by the Land Use Committee, and that necessary monitoring and management activities can be accomplished. </p><p> The Land Use Committee is charged with reviewing and approving any activities that impact the ecology of the lands described in this plan. Groups or individuals are responsible for presenting proposals for projects to the committee prior to implementation. Proposals will be reviewed by the Land Use Committee, who will also seek to learn the opinion of faculty, staff, and students. </p><p> Monitoring and management necessary to maintain diverse habitats will be carried out by land steward and student interns under the direction of the Land Use Committee and interested faculty and staff members. Continuous monitoring of the health of the land is necessary to determine if goals are still appropriate and if they are being met. If one or both is not the case, then the goals or strategies may need to be revised. This adaptive management cycle of goal setting, monitoring, and revision is essential for management complex ecological systems. </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part I Scope and purpose 5</p><p> This plan will be reviewed every two years by the Land Use Committee to </p><p>monitor progress towards goals, and to recommend changes in management or budget as needed to meet the goals. The Land Use Committee may request data necessary for monitoring progress from faculty and staff engaged in land management activities. Results of the review should be a reported to faculty, staff, and students. </p><p> Every ten years the Land Use Committee will review the goals of the plan with </p><p>input from staff, faculty, students, and community representatives. Copies of the plan will be shared with appropriate regional organizations to facilitate stewardship planning and activities across regional scales. </p></li><li><p>Luther College Land Stewardship Plan Approved October 29, 2010 </p><p>Part II NE quadrant 6</p><p>Part II. NE Quadrant </p><p>Location The NE quadrant is N of Pole Line Rd. and E of US 52. This quadrant is divided into six regions: NE-1 (Hawk Hill) is the grassland at the top of the hill, NE-2 is the forested region on the slope, NE-3 is the prairie restoration between the agricultural fields and the forest, NE-4 and NE-6 are the current floodplain agricultural lands, and NE-5 is the drainage ditch that cuts through the floodplain. </p><p>The forest communities are young and have high densities of non-native invasive species. The grasslands are dominated by non-native shrubs and weeds. The proximity to campus and existing athletic facilities make this area an excellent candidate for recreation. </p><p>Goals and desired future condition </p><p>Education and research </p><p>Continue to use Hawk Hill (NE-1) for research plots. </p><p>Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services </p><p>Future restoration of upland forests. Removal of invasive species from drainage ditch and forests. Consider planting of flood plain (NE-4 &amp; NE-6) to prairie to </p><p>enhance biodiversity and soil carbon storage. </p><p>Recreation Build trail network connecting Hawk hill to central campus and to NW quadrant. </p><p>Agricultural fields (NE-4 &amp; NE-6) may be leased to City of Decorah for development of playing fields, running/wal...</p></li></ul>

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