Responsible stewardship today… sustained growth and income tomorrow.
This is all information I’ve gathered from our foresters and / or in the Hickman Timber Management guide books for Foresters.
A lot goes into planning a harvest for a properly managed, FSC certified, cut and unless carefully planned, removal of forest products can adversely affect the environment. During the preplanning of the harvest operation there are many questions to ask.
- Are there sensitive sites?
- How can the area of earth disturbance be minimized?
- Is there a weight limit on the road?
- Does a new road cross a stream? What permits are needed? Can the stream be avoided?
- Can the roads contain 2 -10% slopes?
- Are there any endangered species in the area?
- Are road permits needed?
- Will seeding be needed for landing area?
There is a focus on the land for both public and private properties. Ecological, recreational and aesthetic values are factors in planning.
Controlling erosion and sedimentation
Follow Common Wealth of PA Department of Environmental Resources two types of erosion.
- Geologic erosion – mountain erosion, sediment deposits several miles thick formed. Natural – not much of a concern
- Accelerated erosion – awareness & concern. Must follow the erosion & sedimentation control practices with the road system design
There are 4 elements of timber harvesting that cause the most impact:
- Truck roads
- Skid trails
- Tree falling
SOLUTIONS to these problems:
- Understanding the soil and where it may cause problems
- Avoid long and steep grades with roads & trails
- Create adequate ditching and cross drainage
- Remove and use all merchantable wood
- Enhance recreational use.
There are many factors that determine the type of harvest.
(Even age thinning, even age regeneration, all age management. – see PA Silviculture post)
- Visual goals of forest management impose special restrictions on cutting
- Avoiding exposed stumps, slash & soil disturbance
- If overstory is always present the regeneration will be primarily shade tolerant trees
- An acre of clear cut created to allow intolerant species (oaks, cherry) to increase amount of growth
- Typically combine a combo of single tree and group selection cutting- depending on the species, quality, diameter, distance from other trees, health & vigor & non timber value
Wildlife awareness is a very important aspect of our management plan
- Retain obvious den trees
- Favor nut producing unique species
- Retain nesting trees
- Randomly scatter clearcuts to improve diversity of age classes and habitat
- Retain bee trees to help declining population
- Permit deer hunting and control herd
Deadwood for Wildlife: Snag (standing dead tree) and logs (fallen tree) offer shelter & food to many wildlife species.
- Numerous species depend on fallen trees to survive because it becomes infested with fungi and insects.
- As the tree decomposes nutrients are recycled into the soil and a microhabitat that is favorable for growth of a new tree is created.
- Insects, salamanders, snakes and mice seek refuge in trees
- Skunks, bears, and wood peckers go to eat the little guys in the trees.
- Ecologists believe dead wood is one of the greatest resources for animal species in the forest.
Hickman Timber Management conducts extensive inventories on a 390’ spacing before management activities, to determine harvest levels, plant communities, habitat, historical sites, and unique cultural and physical features. HTM also consults experts, attends training seminars, uses the Natural Heritage Inventory, and consults local sources to see if any unique features exist. Known threatened or endangered species and unique features are identified and protected. Vernal pools, monolithic rocks and rock outcrops, and platform nests are protected by a no harvest, no disturbance buffer. Rare and threatened species and riparian areas are protected by harvesting restrictions. Here are a few examples from properties we manage here in western PA.
High Value Conservation Areas
Current examples of these unique areas include:
- Massasauga rattlesnake habitat in the Tippery Swamp is one of only four or five known sites in Pennsylvania where this snake is known to occur. Harvesting only occurs when the vipers are hibernating in the swamp. Skid roads are seeded after harvest to provide the herbaceous areas the snake prefers.
- River hillsides in the Wild and Scenic recreational river corridor along the Allegheny River will be managed on extended entry rotations of 15-20 years to maintain mature overstory condition visible from the river. The US forest Service guidelines for Wild and Scenic river management were consulted in developing this strategy. All guidelines are voluntary.
- The Cathedral area along Horse Creek is a second growth Eastern Hemlock stand of approximately 15 acres with a closed canopy that is preventing anything from growing on the forest floor. The locals from the village of Rockmere like to walk here and enjoy the stream and uncut stand.
- The Van Buren iron furnace is located on the Plummer tract and harvesting will not occur in the vicinity of the furnace to protect the integrity of the structure.
- Butternut trees are retained and harvesting is restricted around them to minimize damage to the stems.