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Linking Science and Practice for Oak Ecosystem Recovery in the Chicago Wilderness Region

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Melissa Custic, Charles H. Cannon, Emily Okallau, and Lydia Scott1

Published May 2018 in International Oaks No. 29: 99–112


The Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan (OERP) aims to preserve, protect, and enhance the resiliency and integrity of oak ecosystems in the Chicago Wilderness Region through collaborative management practices and policies. Identifying best practices requires translating the current state of scientific knowledge into feasible actions that can be performed by a range of land managers, public or private. The impact of these actions should then direct future research. In reality, direct communication between scientists and land managers is rare. To facilitate a dialogue between these two communities, The Morton Arboretum hosted the Midwest Oak Ecosystem Managers and Scientists Meeting. First, we surveyed land managers to determine the major topics of concern from their perspective. Their responses were forwarded to the scientists to find commonalities and overlap with their research efforts. During the meeting, the two groups discussed the OERP generally and split into focus groups on high-priority topics. Several key outcomes are: 1) ground-truthing of the quality and condition of mapped “core” oak ecosystems and their environs is needed; 2) private landowners must be part of the dialogue; 3) potential impacts of climate change should be incorporated into management plans; and 4) management objectives should work positively across geographic scales, from landscape to oak remnant.


Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan, land management, oaks, Quercus


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