Ecological Forest Management Plan

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<p>1 Ecological Forest Management Plan 6XUH)RUHVW Ms. Susan Sure J.E.M.D.A Sustainable Solutions Ms. Erica G. Muller Mr. Jason Cesta Mr. Alfonso Castro Mr. Derrick Mason Ms. Meghan E. Yovankin November 27th, 2010 2 CONTENTS Title.1 Contents.2 Introduction.5 Obiectives.6 Ecological Assesment.6 Methodology.6 Results.7 Discussion.7 History.8 Fire Adapted Ecosystem.9 Threatened &amp; Endangered Species in New Jersey.10 Projection with and without Intervention.11 Conclusion.12 Management/Stewardship Plan.13 Overall Landscape Plan.13 Silvicultural Prescriptions by Stand.14 Stand One.14 Timetable.15 Economics.17 Contingency Plans.17 Disease/Pathogens.17 WildIire.18 Invasive Species.18 3 Stand Two.18 Timetable.19 Economics.19 Contingency Plans.20 Disease/Pathogens.20 WildIire.20 Invasive Species.20 Stand Three.20 Timetable.22 Economics.23 Contingency Plans.24 Disease/Pathogens.24 WildIire.25 Invasive Species.25 Stand Four A.25 Timetable.26 Economics.27 Contingency Plans.28 Disease/Pathogens.28 WildIire.28 Invasive Species.28 Stand Four B.28 Time Table.29 4 Economics.29 Contingency Plans.29 Disease/Pathogens.29 WildIire.29 Invasive Species.29 Final Conclusions.29 Acknowledgements.30 Literature Cited.31 Appendices.33 Soils.33 Threatened and Endangered Species.35 Stock Tables.40 Stand One.41 Stand Two.41 Stand Three.42 Stand Four A&amp;B.43 Understory. Stand One.41 Stand Two.41 Stand Three.42 Stand Four.43 Maps.44 Stand One.44 5 Stand Two.47 Stand Three.51 Stand Four A.55 Stand Four B.58 I NTRODUCTI ON Across most of the United States, our forests are in a poor state of affair due to negligent management practices. This mismanagement is causing the forests to become very unhealthy due to the lack of disturbance regimes. Because these forests are overgrown and stressed, we are seeing a major decrease in biodiversity of both plants and animals. Also, many wild fires that occur, if they occur at all in some areas, happen on a very large scale due to the build-up of fuels. Most of the tree mortality is now being caused by diseases and insects that attack stressed trees. For example, the Southern pine beetle is decimating much of the forests across the US. Some lessons that should be learned from this management plan are that any type of silivicultural practices should not applied homogeneously across a forest. It should differ depending on the type of trees present and should maintain an ecosystem with all the right elements to regenerate naturally with the changing climate. We will be looking at the ecosystem as a whole and manage for each part of it, from the plant and animal species present to reducing the danger of detrimental forest fires. In the New Jersey Pine Barrens, we see preservation more than conservation. In the area being managed, we are being asked to manage for threatened and endangered species, as well as managing the overall integrity of the forest. 6 OBJECTI VES 1. To make 'Sure Forest a model Ior multiple use; incorporating ecological Iorestry principles to produce wood fiber, water, wildlife, aesthetic, and recreational use. 2. Foster as many threatened and endangered species as possible. 3. Meet Farmland Tax Assessment criteria of NJ. 4. Protect against devastating wildfires. 5. Protect against all forest pests and pathogens. ECOLOGI CAL ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY This management plan addresses 110 acre parcel of private land, under the current ownership of Ms. Susan Sure, located within Atlantic county, New Jersey. With the use of preexisting stand delineations and data acquired from fellow forestry companies, a proper management plan could be produced and implemented to achieve the objectives given to the team. Much of our information came from GIS information that was provided through Dr. Weihong Fan and Dr. George Zimmermann. This information included soil data, waterways present, nearby roads and foot paths, and potential fire breaks. To collect the needed data, plots were randomly selected and point sampling was used, on basal area factor ten on the angle gauge. Understory vegetation, existing wildlife, overall health of the forest, and amount of disturbance was noted upon observation of the plot. Aerial photographs were provided for interpretation of ecological history of the area. Dr. George Zimmermann also provided the team with a compilation of other faculties findings regarding all elements in our management area. 7 Bob Williams, a professional forester, Dr. Jack Connor, a well versed birder of New Jersey, and Jon Klischies of the New Jersey Forest Service gave us insight on important aspects of the forests and best management practices to possibly use. Literature regarding the implementation of fire as a silvicultural practice was explored to aid in our plan for prescribed fire. RESULTS Throughout the four stands that are being managed, the overall health of the forest is somewhat low. Most of the areas, which have been suppressed from fire for quite some time, have a very high fuel build-up and is subsequently causing the forests to be stressed. In stand one, which is closest to the campus buildings, is generally very disturbed and is in dire need of the return of fire regimes. Here you can find a mixed pine-oak forest. Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and various oak species dominate this area, with other species typically found in unmanaged pine-oak forests such as black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.), and a thick understory of highbush and lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium spp.). The fuel build up is very high, indicating this area has not received any disturbance regimes recently and regeneration is low, with some pine saplings found but the chance they will survive is low due to the lack of sunlight hitting the forest floor. The wildlife in this area consisted mostly of small song birds, Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), chipmunks (Tamias spp.), and various birds that inhabit the shallows of Lake Fred, which neighbors the stand. Stand two consists mostly of Atlantic-white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) with black gum and high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). The age of these trees ranged mostly from 50 to 80 years old with not many younger growth cedars, indicating regeneration in this area is extremely low. Also, not many saplings or seedlings were seen and the smaller trees that 8 were present were mostly dead or dying, which could be caused by the abundant amount of deer found in this area. Young Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecypais thyoides) is a main component of the diet of the deer in this area. The only wildlife noted in this stand was some small song birds but there was nothing observed beyond that. Stand Three was a thicker pine-oak forest. The dominant species were pitch pine and white oak (Quercus alba). The thick understory consisted of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), bracken fern (Pteridium spp.), and various mosses. As noted by data provided for us, there are signs of fire in some parts of the forest indicated by burns on the bases and lower trunks of some of the pines. Regeneration, much like the other stands, is very low, mostly due to the very thick understory present. Wildlife observed in this area included Eastern gray squirrel, chipmunks, and various small song birds. Stands 4a and 4b were relatively thinned out due to past fire regimes and effects caused by the gypsy moth. This area was also dominated by pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and white oak (Quercus alba), as well as scarlet oak (Quercus stellata). The amount of wildlife was more abundant here compared to other stands, perhaps due to the fact that it more closely resembled a younger forest. We observed more species of birds here. There was more bare ground exposed to sunlight and the understory was non-existent in some parts of the stand. DI SCUSSI ON HI STORY The property is located in Pomona, New Jersey, right next to Richard Stockton College. The aid of aerial photographs from 1930 and 2007 represent key elements in the process of gathering information about the land. The property encompasses different types of land cover, varying 9 from oak-pine uplands (Quercus spp. and Pinus spp.) to Atlantic white cedar lowlands (Chamaecypais thyoides), as well as bordering a lake. The forest standing in the property today is the result of many years of poor management practices and fire suppression; the evidence of this is perceived by the high density of small diameter class trees throughout the stands, accompanied by the large amounts of litter on the forest floor. Some areas of the property have firebreaks which indicate that fire was prescribed at some point. Another sign of disturbance is the prevalence of multiple stem trees, mainly oaks (Quercus spp.). The image from 1930 shows that the forest was not as dense as it is today, except for the stream, Cedick Run, which was surrounded by Atlantic white cedar trees. The areas next to the lake, which was an operational cranberry (Vaccinium spp.) bog, are very sparse with a web of trails around Lake Fred and throughout the stand. FI RE ADPATED ECOSYSTEM This type of forest, that contains mostly pitch pine (Pinus rigida), various oaks (Quercus spp.), and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), has developed in a way that is reliant on the presence of fire, otherwise known as a fire adapted ecosystem. Research has shown that in ecosystems much like the one found in 'Sure Forest, there is a visible decline in species diversity if the period between fires is extended to just three years, whereas these areas should see fire annually or biannually (Wisdom 16). Without fire, these forests become overgrown messes of unhealthy oaks (Quercus spp.) and pines (Pinus spp.), with oaks (Quercus spp.) sometimes dominating the areas, which is an indicator of the lack of disturbance regimes for this particular ecosystem. By applying fires, area can be cleared for regeneration of pines and at the same time create early successional habitat, which is important for many species of plants and animals. 10 Just by looking at the forest that we must manage, you can see the immense build-up of fire fuels and the danger that it holds if a wildfire were to come through this part of the forest. If a forest is managed with fire, the understory is kept at a minimum and allows for regeneration of the land. Many times, a small fire may turn into a catastrophic one due to the dense understory because it acts as a ladder for the fire to reach the canopies of the trees, which leads to very hot, dangerous fires. These fires may cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem, as well as surrounding homes and families. Unfortunately, this is seen far too many times due to the mismanagement of the forest or the lack there of. To prevent this from happening to this parcel of land, our team must prepare this forest to be managed with fire. With fire breaks, cleared areas, and short periods between burns, we hope to greatly reduce the risk of detrimental wildfires in this area, as well as increase the health of the forest. THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECI ES I N NEW JERSEY In New Jersey alone, there are 73 species of wildlife that are considered threatened or endangered. Due to the ever expanding population of this state, we are seeing a serious decline in our biodiversity. This is caused by loss of habitat, exploitation, predation, and competition with invasive species. Sure Forest has potential to harbor several threatened or endangered species, which we plan to mostly base our management goals around this purpose. Many of the species that potentially could live here rely on early successional habitat, or at least for one aspect of their life (i.e. foraging grounds or nesting grounds). We will specifically manage for a species stand by stand and will create areas to act as experiments to see which silvicultural practice may better suit a certain species. The species we will be managing for include; x Red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) x Cooper`s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) (both foraging habitat and nesting habitat) 11 x Barred owl (Strix varia) (both foraging habitat and nesting habitat) x American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana) x Pine Barrens gentian (Gentiana autumnalis) x Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) x Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) x Timber rattle snake (Crotalus horridus) x Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) Other species that are not considered threatened or endangered, but are rare to this area will also be managed for to maximize species diversity. These include blue birds (Sialia sialis), other snakes that use these habitats, woodcock (Scolopax minor), and other small songbirds that could provide a food source for both barred owl (Strix varia) and Cooper`s hawk (Accipiter cooperii ). By following some of the best management practices provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, we hope to provide and maintain suitable habitat for these species. Refer to appendices for information regarding the desired habitat of each species we are managing for. PROJECTI ON WI TH &amp; WI THOUT I NTERVENTI ON If Ms. Susan Sure were to allow this parcel of land to go unmanaged, this area would pose a large threat to surrounding properties due to the high fire risk this land holds. The costs of repairs would most likely leave Ms. Sure in a large deficit. Not to mention, the hotness of the fire would leave this land very damaged and it would be hard to bring the forest back to a healthy state. With the use of fire breaks being set 300 feet apart and regular fire regimes, the team hopes to greatly reduce the fire risk for this parcel of land. 12 As far as biodiversity of plants go, the amount of biodiversity would eventually be very low due to the overgrowth of the forest combined with a lack of disturbance regimes. Mesofication would occur throughout the stands, leading to a higher density of black gum (Nyssa silvatica), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and maples (Acer spp.), as well as invasive species that favor those types of habitats. The once dominant pitch pine (Pinus rigida) would eventually have no new regeneration, leaving the forest to be taken over by hardwoods. The lack of biodiversity among the plants would subsequently lead to a lowering of the biodiversity of animals. A...</p>