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Land with red osier dogwood

 
Julie Alberlan
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Hello. My husband and I are thinking about purchasing land that is covered in red osier dogwood thicket. There are other shrubs there, as well, but lots of red osier visible. I know from an initial googling that red osier is indicative of moist conditions (but not wetland). My question is, does it have a use? Will animals eat it? Will pigs grub it up? What would be the best course of action to make the land productive? Will it need drainage?

Thanks for any input.

Julie
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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In my bioregion, redosier dogwood is FACW or facultative wetland species (http://plants.usda.gov/wetinfo.html) such that a predominance of dogwood would satisfy the vegetation indicator for wetland. If you are drier than me, than it would be more of a wetland indicator. You would then look for redoximorphic features to confirm soil saturation (grey color, mottles, sulfur smell etc...) I wouldn't buy such land without digging some soil test pits. It produces berries for birds, it can be used as forage for ruminants, and can be harvested for floral arrangements, and cuttings are used for wetland revegetation.
 
Julie Alberlan
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Thanks, Paul. That's very helpful. I'll go take some soil samples today. I am in Western NY, I forgot to say. I explored the link you posted, but I couldn't find the list of plants and if it corresponds to wetlands in my bioregion.
 
Julie Alberlan
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I went to the land today. We have had a lot of rain lately, and everything around here flooded. But now most places are dried out now. Some of this land still has standing water, but not all. I took pictures and tried to attach some here. One shows the standing water and the red osiers. The other pic is just a few feet away, showing a clearing, pines, and scrub. The land is dry and firm, with grass and clover growing. I dug in the soil, and it appears to be typical NY heavy clay. Some worms. No sulphur smell. I also checked DEC maps, it's not a protected wetland or in a "checkzone".

So what do you think? Is this land decent and workable for farming/permaculture/animals/orchards? Or will it plague me forever because it's too far gone? The price is certainly right.

Thanks,
Julie
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Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Cornus sericea looks like FACW throughout its range. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=COSE16
The sulfate reduction smell indicator comes when you dig a hole and stick you head in it and smell.
If you are getting standing water at the end of April that will strongly affect what you can grow and any ecological design process.
From a ecosystem design perspective, wet sites can be among the most productive systems on earth--from a US regulatory perspective you can be in for a headache. There are a lot of exception for wetlands on active agricultural lands, but that road is not a no-brainer.
 
Julie Alberlan
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Thanks, Paul. That link worked for me. I did check the DEC website, and the land is not in their "wetland" or "checkzone" categories, so I think we should be ok with regulations. We will proceed with caution, though. Thanks for the input!

Julie
 
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