Stay Safe in Our Woodlands

Our Bannockburn community is fortunate to have 2.5 acres of wonderful woodlands, located around the outside edges of our elementary school grounds. We highly value these natural areas and want to increase their accessibility to our community, while also keeping you safe. This page contains information to help you to avoid interaction with flora and fauna in the woods that can cause you some discomfort. Last point of note; all 3 ecosystem participants identified below have been seen in our woodlands and provide important services in a healthy ecosystem. Any risks posed to us are manageable, and a healthy woodlands needs these participants to increase resiliency.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, is a common native plant found in woodlands, fields, pastures, farms, and home landscapes. In natural areas, its berries provide nutritious food for migrating birds. Most animals are not effected by the urushiol oils.

All parts of the plant (leaves, stems, and roots) contain the irritating oil urushiol. Urushiol (pronounced, ‘you-roos-sheol’) is a colorless or slightly yellow oil and is very potent. Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of poison ivy.

You can find more information out about Poison Ivy from these scientific resources:

The following resource has also been found to be useful reference.

Finally, if you think you have poison ivy oils on you, multiple members of our BES Woodland Stewards group have been following the procedures outlined in the following video for the past couple of years. Even when working in areas with poison ivy, they have had complete success at avoiding the oils staying on their skin and causing a rash.

Ground Bees

Mining, ground, or digger bees nest in burrows in the ground. Mining bees are solitary bees and important pollinators. Each mining bee female usually digs her own burrow to rear her young. Large numbers of these bees may nest close together if soil conditions are suitable and will fly just above the ground. When this happens they frequently become a nuisance to some people.

They are not aggressive, seldom sting, and their flying activity lasts only 2 to 4 weeks. Sometimes large numbers of males will fly about the same spot for several days in a mating display. Bee populations can fluctuate dramatically from one season to the next.

Black Rat Snakes

This snake is non-venomous and a constrictor. It poses no threat to humans and just like the poison ivy and ground bees, it provides excellent services to a healthy functioning ecosystem by keeping the number of small rodents down. The worst that will most likely happen is that you will get a surprise if you stumble upon one. Don’t try to pick one up, because they can bite if mishandled.