The Emergency Response Team serves with partnering agencies to improve and maintain the health of various ecosystems in Missouri, Illinois, and Montana. These projects include exotic invasive species removal, natural habitat restoration, and timber stand improvement. Occasionally, project partners will also request teams for special conservation projects like cave gating, lichen research, or air quality monitoring.
For information about prescribed burning and wildland fire suppression - two important aspects of natural resource management - see our Wildland Fire page.
What we do
Members serve alongside state park employees and volunteers to continually restore natural habitats within parks that have been affected by things like invasive species, human impact, general overgrowth, and erosion. Countless glades, woodlands, wetlands, and other types of habitats have been restored to their original state through the help of the Emergency Response Team.
Timber Stand Improvement
The process of actively thinning a forest is known as timber stand improvement. This requires felling, girdling, or treatment of certain trees and the removal of invasive or undesirable trees in order to improve a local ecosystem and the health of the remaining forest. Timber stand improvement also assists in restoring ecosystems that host endangered or unique species by promoting the growth of native alternatives. These projects can also be an alternative or precursor to prescribed burning.
Emergency Response Team members engage in many different types of habitat restoration, though the primary type is dolomite glade restoration. Glades in Missouri are dry, thin-soiled ecosystems similar to tall-grass prairies. These glades are home to many unique and rare species; however, fire suppression and lack of care have encouraged the abundant spread of native but harmful red cedars to Missouri glades. Members often spend time in these beautiful areas removing cedar trees to promote the open canopy needed for glade health.
Exotic invasive species removal
The introduction of non-native invasive species to already-established ecosystems is detrimental to the local habitat. Invasive species out-compete wild plants and alter the ecosystems. These plants often spread aggressively and can have major impacts on an environment, affecting wild game, native species, and agriculture. We partner with nonprofits and governmental agencies to eradicate and reduce the spread of these damaging plants.
The Emergency Response Team is sometimes asked to undertake special conservation and resource management projects by our partners. In the past, these projects have included: tree planting in under-served local parks; beautifying urban green spaces through native planting and graffiti removal; gating Missouri caves to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome in at-risk bat populations; and collecting lichen in wilderness areas in order to monitor air quality.