The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission has embarked on a project to restore the dolomite glades at Lake Leatherwood City Park. The first glade to be restored is the Steven Foster Educational Glade located along the Foster Trail.
A dolomite glade is an open area with a shallow layer of soil covering dolomite limestone bedrock. Often the bedrock is exposed and visible at the surface. Glades are typically hotter and drier environments than the surrounding forest due to their exposure to the sun caused by a relative lack of trees. They are often found on the western and southwestern slopes of
the Ozark Mountain and hills and were kept open by periodic fires believed to be caused by natural weather events, Native Americans and early settlers. The semi-arid open areas gave rise to unique animal and plant species, some of which are now found within the glade habitat.
Over the years, successful fire prevention efforts greatly reduced or eliminated the periodic fires that were required to keep the glades open. This was an unintended consequence, and without the fires, invasive species soon moved in, and began to shade the once open areas and change the chemical characteristics of the thin soil layers. With these changes, many unique species have become less active, or stopped growing altogether.
Unfortunately, most of the glades at the park have been encroached upon by Eastern Red Cedars and Carolina Buckthorns. These two native species are very adaptable to shallow soils, and without the intervention of our staff and volunteers removing these species, the glades will likely lose the ability to recover.
The team at Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation is committed to battling the invasive species and is sending 6 or more people to focus on the glades restoration project.