Creating a Recreational Paradise on Your Land
Part I: Timber Harvest Planning to Improve Habitat, Recreation and Aesthetics
Land owners acquire and manage timberland property for many reasons, investment opportunities, personal recreational use, and revenue from timber and/or hunt leases are some of the more common reasons. As a land owner in multiple states, MWV manages its lands for these and many other multiple-use objectives. Part of our success in land management is due to the diversity of natural resource professionals on staff, and our ability to utilize their knowledge in identifying the many potential values associated with a parcel or tract of land. For example, a forester often looks at a property differently than a wildlife biologist, a botanist, or a soil scientist might. The same goes for each stand of timber located on a tract of land, while the main objective may be timber revenue, each resource professional helps identify unique opportunities that can contribute to the overall value of the tract. At MWV, we utilize our resource professionals to enhance these property values making MWV land unique in comparison to other properties.
This article is the first in a series that our resource professionals will share management techniques and tips related to management planning, soils, timber value, vegetation communities, wildlife management and Infrastructure to name a few. In part I of this series, we will look at clear-cutting opportunities during a thinning to help you increase the habitat, recreation and aesthetic value of your property. We will explore this concept in more detail in future articles, in which we will look at different follow-up management practices that can be used over time to help you manage these areas and other habitats to improve the value and enjoyment of your property. Before undertaking any management activity on your property, consultation with a licensed forester or other experienced natural resource professional is encouraged. Your local NRCS office can tell you about cost sharing programs and any project that may require permitting.
Thinning timber at the right time to improve crop tree growth and benefit wildlife is a common management practice for land owners. As trees grow and crowns close, timber stands become crowded, limiting tree growth. Thinning to reduce stand density improves tree growth; the more space a tree has, the faster it will grow. Canopy reduction also increases sunlight to the forest floor, increasing vertical habitat structure in the stand improving overall habitat diversity. One important consideration to mention here, opening the forest floor to sunlight eventually will require follow-up management practices to maintain desirable habitat conditions. These are basic forestry and wildlife concepts that should be a part of the management on your property. At MWV we use these same management practices at various scales, whether its 70,000 acres of contiguous property or a 500 acre premier property. The average land owner on small acreage doesn’t have the luxury of large contiguous forest land to work with. However, timber stand management through harvesting can provide small scale habitat features that land owners can take advantage of. Thinning timber offers an opportunity to improve stand level habitat features by creating varying habitat conditions on a smaller scale at the stand level. If a high percentage of your property is in pine plantations within a five year age class, consider clear-cutting a portion of the acreage when you conduct a thinning. This can be accomplished by strategically distributing small patch clear-cuts across the stand or creating a linear corridor clear-cut that traverses the stand. A corridor clear-cut area is a linear clear-cut across a thinned timber stand that can connect unique habitat features, see figure 1 below.
The goal is to design your corridor to meet the needs or objectives of your property. Corridors to enhance habitat can be designed to support varying levels of vegetation and tree growth, from early succession to older age class timber. Figure one above shows how a private land owner has used linear corridors to incorporate wildlife plantings and fallow areas to improve quail hunting in thinned loblolly pine. The left side of the photograph shows a thinned pine stand and the right an unthinned pine stand, both with corridors managed for wildlife plantings and natural vegetation. The orange polygon represents approximately 200 acres, 10% of the area is being managed as wildlife openings and natural vegetation.
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