Ed and Aleka Leydon have the good fortune to own some 30 acres of land on the southern slopes of the Primrose Watershed. Some of it is old forest, some is former farmland which has grown back helter skelter over the past 50 years.
They got a wake up call last year when hundreds of young and old ash trees became prey to the Emerald Ash Borer and quickly died. Now stretches of the woods are a battleground of fallen trees, leafless trunks, and limbs which snap and blow down with each windstorm. Plus there are vines which strangle and pull down the living trees. Other invasives like Russian Olives are starting to colonize every inch of land.
They took advantage of the stay-at-home Coronavirus year to begin a reforesting project and to attack the invasives. Rather than bring in heavy machinery which would indiscriminately damage all growth and the land, they work by hand, leaving trunks and cuttings to compost on the ground and saving the good trees and saplings scattered throughout – linden, dogwood, black cherry, beech, maple, walnut, sassafras, sycamore, oak, red cedar, red bud, hackberry, etc.
To bring more diversity, they have planted over 350 starter native trees and shrubs they obtained from the Pennsylvania State Extension Service and the State Game Commission. But planting a tree is only the first step. It must be protected from browsing deer, watered, sheltered from wind, floods and falling trees, and regularly cleared of weeds and vines.
It’s a great deal of work, but an optimistic and hopeful project in a time of bad news and climate anxiety. They will enjoy watching and protecting the new growth, and like to think that in 100 years others may be enjoying the trees the way they enjoy the magnificent trees which surround them today.
The old and new forest will help prevent erosion and provide clean, cool water, air and shade for the Primrose Watershed. PCWA is looking for other neighbors, like Ed and Aleka, to join our reforesting grant projects.