Management Objectives

The management objectives below help us to accomplish our goals of promoting ecosystem health and function, supporting environmental education and scientific research, inspiring an appreciation for the environment, and maintaining the character of the regional landscape.

Reduce populations of non-native and invasive plant species and increase populations of ecologically beneficial native plant species.

Mt. Cuba uses a combination of mechanical removal, selective herbicide application, and prescribed fire to manage invasive plants. This creates space for native plants, allowing them to compete and establish themselves on the landscape. In addition to encouraging the growth of wild native plants, we plant or seed-in native plants in our natural lands.

A field bursting with common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the natural lands.


Enlarge and connect patches of similar habitat type, creating ecologically beneficial “core” habitat while reducing habitat fragmentation.

A field that Mt. Cuba planted with approximately 3,000 native trees as part of a larger reforestation experiment.

In a modern landscape that is broken up by human development, large sections of unbroken “core” habitat are vital for native plant and animal life. Two important core habitats in the natural lands are grassland and forest. After analyzing the landscape, we may add or remove plants to create unbroken stretches of each of these habitat types.

Flowers peak out of this grassland in the natural lands.


Transition historic hayfields dominated by a few grass species into more diverse native plant communities.

A group of volunteers plants Solidago in the natural lands.

Many of the fields in Mt. Cuba’s natural lands consist of mostly non-native grasses planted many years ago for hay production. In some of these fields, Mt. Cuba is adding more native grasses and flowering plants such as species of Solidago, Asclepias, and Monarda to support a greater diversity of pollinators.

Another way we increase plant diversity in our fields is by performing prescribed burns. Controlled fires stimulate native plant growth, control woody and invasive plant species, and recycle nutrients into the soil. Click here to learn more about how Mt. Cuba uses fire as a land management tool.

A professional uses a driptorch to light a controlled fire in the natural lands. 

Create a mosaic of habitat types to support a diversity of native wildlife, specifically species of conservation concern and those which serve as indicators of ecosystem health.

A view of the natural lands from above.

Habitat diversity promotes wildlife diversity. At Mt. Cuba, we manage our land to create and support species-rich meadows, open grasslands, freshwater wetlands, and young and old forests. Each of these habitats sustain unique plant communities. Together, they create a resilient ecosystem that attracts diverse wildlife. See if you can spot each type of habitat the next time you hike The Trails.

An Eastern Meadowlark, a species of conservation concern that Mt. Cuba’s natural lands support, rests on a branch. 

Minimize the impacts of white-tailed deer on the landscape.

Overpopulated white-tailed deer place significant pressure on the landscape by consuming native plants before they can become established. Mt. Cuba’s hunting program reduces white-tailed deer populations, thus minimizing ecosystem damage.

Use Mt. Cuba’s natural lands as a living laboratory to teach a broad audience about ecology, land management, and ecosystem restoration.

Mt. Cuba offers a wide variety of educational experiences in the natural lands including classes, guided hikes, and special events. In addition, visitors to the natural lands can find educational signs along the trails, learning about important ecological concepts as they go.

Monitor and improve water quality in the Red Clay Creek and tributary systems.

We create native plant buffers around our ponds, streams, and floodplains to help filter chemical pollutants, reduce soil erosion, and regulate water temperature. These efforts help improve water quality within the larger watershed to which we are connected.