The FoSTER (Forest Soils and Trees Ecosystem Restoration) Project: Reforesting Cuyahoga Valley National Park and setting the stage for long-term ecological study

First Author's Department

Department of Biology

Second Author's Department

Department of Biology

Third Author's Department

Department of Geology

Fifth Author's Department

Department of Geology



Document Type



The FoSTER (Forest Soils and Trees Ecosystem Restoration) Project is a collaborative effort between Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) staff and Kent State University faculty to reforest disturbed habitats inside the park. These disturbed sites consist of five former surface mines, which have previously undergone reclamation with unsatisfactory results. The sites have fallen victim to exotic plant invasion and have made minimal progress returning to their naturally forested state, even after 35 years in some cases. To accelerate afforestation, the deep ripping method is being used. Deep ripping involves tearing 1.2m deep grooves into the soil in a checkerboard pattern, which helps to alleviate soil compaction, accelerate soil weathering, and allow tree root penetration. Large-scale tree planting events follow deep ripping. To date, this has been done with the aid of hundreds of citizen volunteers. Trees are planted in a plot-based design, allowing for long-term study of the response of soil properties, tree species, and mycorrhizal fungi type to deep ripping. Surveys conducted in fall of 2018 show 84% survivorship of the nearly 1,500 trees planted between fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. In addition to reforestation, the FoSTER Project aims to educate managers on best management practices for deep ripping, increase public interest in environmental issues faced by CVNP, and promote participation in citizen science.