• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
This project seeks to restore the Ford Park forest to a natural state, increase habitat structure and function, increase ecosystem services and recreation opportunities, and prepare the forest to deal with future climate pressures.

Project Area

Satellite image of Ford Park area
Ford Park is nestled in a neighborhood of the suburban community of Minnetonka, Minnesota. The park's forest is consistent of mesic oak forest type, as part of the larger deciduous forest biome. Invasive species are common, the understory lacks common native species of the forest layer, natural regeneration is sparse, and there is a two acre area currently devoid of trees and unused. The Ford Park Forest Stand Development (FPFSD) project will address these issues by promoting restoration and regeneration of native overstory and understory species.

Management Goals

  • Promote natural regeneration of dominant overstory species.
  • Increase native plant diversity of midstory, understory, and undergrowth forest layers.
  • Decrease invasive species.
  • Revegetate vacant area with trees, grasses, forbs and shrubs typical of oak Savanna habitat.
  • Maintain planted street trees and plant new trees where space permits.


Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:


Wetter springs and increased precipitation could increase Bur Oak Blight, increasing mortality of Bur Oaks.
Bur Oak die off could increase canopy openings and promote invasive plants and weeds.
Better conditions for invasive species may cause invasives to outcompete native ground cover and/or make it more difficult for them to establish.
Better conditions for invasive species could make control more difficult (e.g. increased herbicide use, more difficult to eliminate species like Black locust).


Increased growing season and temperatures may allow saplings to establish and grow faster with more vigor.
Increased precipitation could reduce the need for watering saplings.
Longer growing seasons and increased winter temperatures could provide suitable habitat for an expanding suite of species.
Native ground cover may establish more quickly with warmer temperatures and a longer growing season.
Increased awareness of climate challenges might increase volunteerism, particularly for invasive species removal and ways to limit spread.

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Monitor and manage forest for oak related pathogens such as: Oak Wilt and Bur Oak Blight, including secondary invaders and upcoming threats to white oaks causing substantial necrosis.
If Oak Wilt is discovered, perform management such as trench lines and preventative injections for nearby trees.
Cut and control existing invasive species (buckthorn, garlic mustard, black locust).
Plant or restore at least five different cover species at at least 20 sites throughout forest.
In vacant area, plant ground cover vegetation to cover at least 95% of two acre plot containing big blue stem, little blue stem, prairie dropseed, Canada wild rye, and other species typical of oak savanna.
In vacant area, Plant trees at 25 tree per acre and at least 30 feet apart such as oak species, hickory species, and pine species.


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Native plant species and their regeneration success in the understory
Survival rate of planted trees and level of biodiversity in planted areas.
Natural regeneration of native species in the understory.
Explore planting and maintaining willow trees for production in order to continuously harvest willow mulch. The mulch would then be used in experimental application trials to see if it enhances a trees defense mechanisms.
Success of gravel bed nursery.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact