JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary Tree Planting

On November 2, over 100 volunteers joined together in a coordinated effort to plant 26o native trees and shrubs on the 87-acre JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary owned by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC). The event was planned long in advance by a “tree planting committee” made up of members of LWC, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD), members of the Lucketts Ruritan Club and other local volunteers.

The need to undertake this project was to restore and combine forested areas of the 87-acre wildlife sanctuary. In some years past much of the property was made open for agricultural use. As a result a large vernal pool was left exposed in one of these open areas leaving it a less desirable habitat for native fauna. Over time the open areas began to fill in, not always with desirable native species of trees and shrubs.

The forested areas are important because they provide leaf litter and habitat for rare salamanders and other amphibians found on the property during their adult life. While the vernal pools – shallow bodies of water which appear only in the spring – provide area for their reproduction.

Because the project was funded in large part by LSWCD there were requirements for the types and amounts of trees and shrubs to be planted.  All in the planting were required to be native to this area, be of a large enough size that they would have a better chance of survival, and be provided protection from deer and rabbit damage for a period of time.

The tree planting committee met monthly from April through October of 2019. Each meeting followed the planning process which included next-step tasks. From compiling a list of the desired trees and shrubs to the actual day of the event many moveable parts came into play. The overall plan included ordering and delivery of plants; drilling the 26o holes; watering the trees in; wrapping plants with protective netting; and securing the volunteer force it would take on the day of the event to complete the planting.

The JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary is a gift to the community and how well the volunteers who came to pitch in on November 2 embrace that fact.  Thanks go to the members of the tree planting committee; to Frank Maruca and Andy Benjamin both of the Lucketts Ruritan Club who drilled the holes; to Jay Frankenfield of the LSWCD; the Ruritan Club for parking attendees; and the many individual and business volunteers who made the effort of restoring and combining forested areas all in a days work.

  • Oak tree with protective netting

  • John Adams of the Lucketts Ruritan Club secures netting on a tree

  • Jay Frankenfield, of Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District and Ruritan Club, seats a tree

  • Members of the Point of Rocks Ruritan Club joined in for the planting

  • Tree is carefully seated into the ground before enclosing with protective netting

  • Volunteers remove trees from the pot and drop into pre-drilled holes

  • Pot removed, the trees are seated into the hole

  • A little clean out of the pre-drilled hole and it is ready for the tree

  • Trees are gently placed into its new space

  • Ready to work the group enters the planting area with their shovels and tree-laden wagons

  • With frost still on the ground the group begins wheeling trees into the planting area

  • Trees were loaded onto wagons and placed into assigned pre-drilled holes in the planting area

  • The first trees make their way to the planting area

  • The volunteers begin to assemble and receive instruction on the planting process

  • LWC supplied snacks and drinks for the hard-working volunteers

  • Michael Myers of LWC expresses gratitude and explains the tasks to be accomplished

  • Joe Coleman of the LWC demonstrates techniques for cutting the protective netting

  • Gettinginstructions on planting

  • In the beginning, there were flags then drilled holes

  • The planting area is ready for the volunteer teams and the trees