Conservation Projects

 

About

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. 

 Members from Year 22 enjoy a scenic lunch break on a conservation project in Missouri.

Members from Year 22 enjoy a scenic lunch break on a conservation project in Missouri.


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. 

 Brandon Janney, Year 23, fells a tree for a timber stand improvement project near Eminence, MO, 2016

Brandon Janney, Year 23, fells a tree for a timber stand improvement project near Eminence, MO, 2016

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.

 Year 23 Members enjoy a break during a glade restoration project at St. Joe State Park in Park Hills, MO, 2017 

Year 23 Members enjoy a break during a glade restoration project at St. Joe State Park in Park Hills, MO, 2017 

Habitat Restoration

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. 

 
 Year 22 Members spray an invasive plant at a conservation area in Missouri, 2016

Year 22 Members spray an invasive plant at a conservation area in Missouri, 2016

 Year 23 Members assist the Missouri Department of Conservation with bear tagging in Seymour, MO, 2017. Members helped measure and weigh the bear for further research on bear movement throughout the Ozarks region of Missouri (Photo by Lucas Peterson, Year 23)

Year 23 Members assist the Missouri Department of Conservation with bear tagging in Seymour, MO, 2017. Members helped measure and weigh the bear for further research on bear movement throughout the Ozarks region of Missouri (Photo by Lucas Peterson, Year 23)

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. 

special projects

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. 

 

Video by one of our St. Louis conservation partners, Great River Greenway, about a multi-year reforestation project along the Meramec River. 

By Devon Dovgan, Year 23. Featuring invasive species mitigation in Cuivre River State Park and Van Meter State Park.