Trees and Shrubs
In addition to plantings in bays, ponds, and ditches, hundreds of trees and shrubs were planted throughout the project area. They further enhance the stability of the soil and its ability to hold, utilize, and purify water as it moves through the area. Many of these plantings replace wildlife habitat lost when scores of ash trees were removed after being killed by the invasive emerald ash borer beetle.
There is an old Greek proverb that says "A civilization flourishes when the elderly plant trees underneath whose shade they will never sit".
The hundreds of plants, shrubs, and trees planted during the WISE Project's construction will only continue to enhance this effort's stormwater function. Over the course of the next several decades, these plantings will also enhance our interpretive grounds' value and impact on wildlife - creating habitat by providing food, shelter, and breeding sites.
A word on invasive species:
The WISE project, especially where the wetland retention ponds are located was once a complex of ornamental gardens and an impressive stand of mature white ash trees. When these trees began to die off and were eventually cut due to damage from an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer, the shade and structure they provided to the landscape was elliminated. Quickly, other invasive species - this time invasive plants - took hold on the slopes below the interpretive center.
Before we could install the native trees and shrubs for the WISE Project, the invasive plants (mostly Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose) had to be cut and their roots poisoned so they wouldn't immediately overtake the fresh plantings. Having done so the assortment of native shrubs and trees will be able to grow and shade the area, preventing the invasives from degrading the area again.
This is a good example of how invasive species destroy native ecosystems. Rather than acting independently, several diferent types act on an area at the same time, with cascading and often amplifying effects. The WISE Project is a good case study of how this process can be reversed using a comprehensive approach.