Ruta and I took another walk at Oak Openings yesterday. We were wondering how the Birds foot Violet had over-wintered in Ostrich Barrens, so we headed south on Wilkins Road. Just before Campbell Prairie, we ran into the land management crew. They were still working on an area that had been hit by a tornado almost 2 years ago (or has it been almost 3 years?). There was so much debris, it posed a fire hazard. Many of the largest trees have been cut down and sold for firewood. Now they are working on the smaller logs. Above you can see the wood gathered into piles; below the smoke as seen from Wilkins Road.
Before settlement, the entire park area was Oak Savannah, consisting of a few trees per acre of tall grass prairie. Once settlement occurred, natural fires were extinguished, allowing the forest to grow. The tornado is helping bring back the Oak Savannah.
We found our Birds foot violet, still dormant, near the dunes. It will be interesting to see how well it does now that the encroaching forest has been removed.