• Start-up
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The Oakland County department of Parks and Recreation is working to create a tree planting plan for Waterford Oaks County Park to replace non-native ornamentals, increase native trees, and improve habitat connectivity in the built infrastructure areas of the Park.

Project Area

Aerial view of the Waterford Park.
Headquarters of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, 199-acre Waterford Oaks is also home to Waterford Oaks Waterpark; the world-class Waterford Oaks Bicycle Motocross (BMX) Track; more than three miles of hiking trails; the universally-accessible Paradise Peninsula Playscape; two platform tennis courts; sand volleyball courts; a winter family sledding hill; and outdoor fitness equipment. The Lookout Lodge, Activity Center and picnic shelters are available for rent. The Oakland County Farmers Market, open three days a week, provides grower-direct fresh produce, flowers and goods. A tree inventory from 2014 listed 4800 non-native trees in the built area of the park.

Management Goals

The overall goal of the project is to create quality connected habitats with 80% native trees that support highly functioning ecosystem services.

Specific objectives of the project by management area are:

Developed/built areas:

1. Ensure that 100% of trees planted are native and desirable for projected climate conditions. (1 year)

2. Remove up to 50% of non-native ornamental trees (5 years)

Park natural areas: 

1. Increase habitat connectivity by planting trees in half of identified no-mow zones. (4 years)
2. Introduce climate adapted trees into natural areas as a seed bank (3 years)
3. Increase no mow zones to improve migrations between new connected habitats (2 years)

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Loss of forests due to current warming trends
Loss of trees due to new forests pests/disease
Increase in invasive pests due to favorable climate/decrease canopy

Challenges and Opportunities

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


Acquiring a diversity of native trees that are well suited for projected climate conditions in sufficient numbers.
Longer oak wilt seasons- unpredictable temperatures make maintenance of oaks more challenging.
Increasing storm damage to trees
Increasing occurrence of invasive species and introduced diseases.
Changing/unpredictable precipitation may make choosing trees difficult


Some invasive species might not fare well under new climatic conditions
May have a greater diversity of native trees to choose from
Longer growing season for trees

Adaptation Actions

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

Remove non native trees and shrubs from landscape areas of the park
Planting native trees throughout the day use areas in the park Attempting to create "no-mow" zones in coordination with park staff so that they can connect current fragmented ecosystems of the park.


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Have 50% of the non native trees and shrubs been removed after 5 years?
How man trees survived planting? Goal: 90%
Were the species of trees planted native to the area?
Were any no-mow zones created to connect fragmented ecosystems in the parks? Goal: 20% percentage of mowed areas have been turned into no-mow zones after 5 years

Learn More

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