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Audubon Nature Center restores forest

Crews are working at the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee to remove invasive plant species and restore the land to its natural state.

The Forest Restoration Project is a multi-prong master plan, divided over five years, according to Land Manager Matt Smith.  

Right now, crews and volunteers are removing buckthorn and honeysuckle, both of which have become a nuisance at the nature center.  Those species propagate rapidly, and they choke out other plants that animals use for food and shelter.  

Once they're removed from the stretch of land along East Brown Deer Road, the prairie will be much more open and sunny, Smith said.

The second phase involves the troubled tree canopy.  Much of the forest at the Audubon Center is comprised of ash trees, and with the threat of the emerald ash borer eminent, crews are deliberately thinning those trees before they're afflicted by the beetle.  Soon, they will replant other tree species that have a better chance of thriving on the land, Smith said. 

The Restoration Project is funded in part by grants from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Northwestern Mutual.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is looking for volunteers, and you can drop in to help Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.  To arrange a visit, contact Matt Smith at 414-352-2880, extension 244.