Arboretum receives 2015 Forest Stewardship Award

30 July 2015

The Carleton College Cowling Arboretum recently received the 2015 Forest Stewardship Award from the Rice County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), recognizing the College’s efforts to protect and restore forests. Arboretum Director Nancy Braker accepted the award on behalf of Carleton at the Rice County Fair Agricultural Awards program, where other award recipients were also honored, including St. Olaf College who received the Wildlife Enhancement Award.

The Forest Stewardship Award is given annually to an individual or organization to recognize efforts to restore and manage lands for the purpose of protecting or restoring forested areas. The SWCD staff specifically noted the benefit of forest management work on private lands that are open to the public, where there are opportunities to see first-hand the improvements in forest health that comes with restoration of native species and invasive plant management.

Braker, a member of the Carleton Class of 1981, earned a BA in biology and an MS in entomology from the University of Minnesota. She returned to Carleton in 2007 to fill the position of Arboretum Director. Braker oversees the management of the Arboretum in order to provide an educational resource, a recreational resource, and a conservation site to the college and the community. Additionally, Braker works with faculty on their use of the property with students and their own academic endeavors. Some of the main tasks performed by Braker and the Arboretum staff include planting trees, restoring prairies, and removing invasive species.

In the past 35 years, the most significant change in the ‘Arb’ as observed by Braker has been the enormous increase in natural area. This is due in large part to the fact that Carleton changed management focus of the property to primarily a conservation area in 1990. “The College has really committed to creating a large conservation area, when previously the majority of that was in farmland,” says Braker.

In the spring of this year, Arboretum staff and contractors planted 20 acres of new forest with 6,600 trees. Currently Braker and her staff are working to protect the trees they planted from white-tailed deer. The deer eat all the young trees, so each one has to be protected until it is tall enough that deer cannot reach the foliage.

Additionally, the Arboretum staff is focusing on invasive species removal in the prairies and forests. The Arboretum staff conducts controlled fires in the prairies, the oak savanna, and some parts of the forests to encourage native species growth and eliminate invasive ones. Student workers assist the Arboretum staff with these projects, allowing them to learn first-hand about restoration.

Posted In