NICHES employs two full time Stewardship Managers, Bob Easter and Brad Weigel. Each Stewardship Manager is responsible for a section of the 13 county service area, overseeing management on each property within his respective section.
Restoration of properties to high quality native-ecosystems with rich biodiversity is the work of the Stewardship Managers. Restoration is both a science and an art. The Stewards are intimately familiar with the properties they manage. They read the landscape, collect in the field data providing valuable information about flora, fauna and natural systems. identify goals and challenges and formulate land management plans for each property.
Management is tailored to meet the need of each site and situation. The Stewards use a wide array of strategies and tools to maintain the ecosystems.
One incredibly effective and efficient tools is prescribed fire.
Prescribed fire, also known as controlled burn, controls invasive plant infestation, maintains open understory of forest, returns nutrients directly and quickly to the soil and preserves native plant population health. The control burn season is late fall and early spring.
Restoration often involves introducing native species that for various reasons are no longer present or underrepresented in the ecosystem. Plants are introduced by direct seeding, plugging, or tree planting.
In order to ensure the habitat is not overrun with invasive plant species, Steward use direct control elements. While prescribed fire is excellent at maintaining habitat; sometimes an infestation of invasive plant species requires a direct approach.
Stewards hand pull weeds, such as garlic mustard. Hand-pulling is especially effective with a team of pullers. Garlic Mustard Weed Out Days make excellent early spring volunteer work days.
Stewards also strategically apply herbicide to kill unwanted aggressive and invasive species. Tactics such as girdling, foliar application, and basal barking are three methods of applying herbicide. The method used is determined based on plant in question, location and size of infestation, and season.
In addition to restoring and stewarding our land, NICHES collaborates with other land management organizations and private land owners to effect large-scale, systemic and regional conservation.
NICHES educates and works with private landowners, local and regional organization, government agencies, and other entities to provide large scale conservation. By working with such a wide array of individuals, groups and landowners, NICHES fosters an ethic of stewardship and empowers private landowners to steward their property; thereby contributing to larger ecological and social benefits for the community.