5 Sturgis Corner Drive, Suite 1250, Iowa City, IA 52246
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Volunteer Opportunities

Bur Oak Land Trust currently maintains and preserves eleven local natural areas for the enjoyment and education of the public. These areas are managed in part by the Trust’s Land Steward, volunteer property stewards, volunteers, and community organizations. Volunteers play a crucial role in maintaining and preserving our properties.

Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks on Trust properties including: prairie burns, invasive species removal, trash clean up, trail maintenance, planting native species, and harvesting prairie seed, to name a few. We have various workdays throughout the year to provide everyone the opportunity to volunteer on a Trust property. Bur Oak Land Trust also needs help in the office with mailing, publications, community relations, and events. If you wish to volunteer, we can find something for you, no matter what your experience.

If you are part of a group or organization and would like to schedule a volunteer day, we would love to hear from you!

For workdays on the properties, contact Jason Taylor at jason@BurOakLandTrust.org or call 518-925-8713.


Workday at Belgum Grove (seed harvesting): October 26 from 10-2. SIGN UP HERE

Thank you to Big Grove Brewery for supplying wooden nickels to reward our workday volunteers!

(Kessler Prairie is located near Grinnell outside of Johnson County)


Notes from Carter

Autumn Woodland Stroll: Look, but don’t cut… yet

The chill in the air, some yellow and orange leaves on the ground – autumn is here.  Most of us are formulating, or even working on, our fall to-do lists at this point. For those of us with woodlands or even landscape trees I would suggest one more item for that list – a nice autumn stroll with a purpose. Evaluate your trees and make a plan for any felling, limbing, or pruning but hold off on firing up the chainsaw just yet.  Even though it’s nice weather to be working in the yard or woods, cutting oak trees or trees nearby trees of other species puts our oaks at risk of oak wilt.

Oak wilt is a fungal disease that has been present in Iowa for decades.  The disease can affect all native oak species, with the most severe impacts occurring in the red oak group including: northern red oak, black oak, and pin oaks.  Those impacts include premature browning of leaves from the outside edges inward followed by partial or total leaf drop during the growing season, often starting at the top of the tree and proceeding downward.  Those trees that exhibit total leaf drop are, or shortly will be, dead. In the case of partial premature leaf drop the tree will have a reprieve, but will likely succumb to the disease in a few years. There is no doubt that oak wilt is a considerable threat to our cherished oak trees.

Oak wilt fungus is spread from tree to tree by two mechanisms.  Transmission within a stand of oaks occurs below the soil surface at points of interconnection between root systems called rood grafts.  Prevention of this mechanism of spread is difficult to achieve. Management involves cutting around infected trees with a trencher or other heavy equipment to disrupt root grafts so that the fungus cannot reach healthy trees.

The good news is we can help to prevent the spread of oak wilt in our healthy trees and woodlands in the first place with timely work on tree trimming, limbing, or felling.  For longer distance transmission of oak wilt, sap beetles can carry fungal spores from infected trees. These beetles are attracted to tree sap, including sap exuded as the result of injuries caused by pruners, loppers, or chainsaws.  So the best option for planned work on oak trees is to wait until the first hard frost. After that time spore production and beetle activity are sufficiently reduced to make cutting safe.

As always, I recommend safe practices and utilization of personal protective gear when operating saws or other power equipment in the woods.  We want to be sure to stay safe while working to maintain the health of our woodlands.

Iowa DNR News Release: Wait to Prune Oak Trees
US Forest Service Pest Alert: Oak Wilt
US Forest Service: How to Identify, Prevent and Control Oak Wilt
US Forest Service: How to Prune Trees

Here’s a video Jack Dickens put together of drone footage of an O’Mara-Newport burn and shots from volunteer workdays – with music by Elizabeth Moen. I hope this inspires you to get out and volunteer!

This is a before and after picture of the 2016 honeysuckle removal efforts at Pappy Dickens.

We had a great crew at Shimek with our new Yo-ho tools we recently obtained from a Yo-ho tool grant! This group was from NCCC (Americorp).

We had a great crew at Shimek with our new Yo-ho tools we recently obtained from a Yo-ho tool grant! This group was from NCCC (Americorp).

Hard working UNFI volunteers at Pappy Dickens (Oct 2015)

Hard working UNFI volunteers at Pappy Dickens (Oct 2015)

Pappy Dickens (Oct 2015)

Pappy Dickens (Oct 2015)

Pappy Dickens (Dec 2015)

Pappy Dickens (Dec 2015)