Alabama: How does unsightly forest destruction restore a forest to its natural state?

State lands manager Will Brantley said while the cutting is
aesthetically unpleasant, it is part of a long-term management plan to
return more than 1,100 acres within Jacinto Port to its natural state.
He said operations like this are undertaken across the state on
thousands of acres owned by the State Lands Division and purchased
through grants from the federal Forest Legacy program. A recent tour
of the tract with Alabama State Lands Division personnel revealed that
most of the trees across the majority of the 264 acres being logged
had been cut to the ground. Similar operations are planned for the
Perdido River WMA on the Alabama/Florida state line in Baldwin County,
Brantley said.

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Brantley said gopher tortoises, which are a protected species, have
established a foothold in a large borrow pit created when soil was dug
to build the road beds on the tract. He said the habitat manipulation
practices planned for the area should help ensure the turtles’
continued survival and population expansion. Wyatt’s goal with this
and all subsequent cuttings is to remove the non-native trees that had
become dominant in certain stands in the absence of fire, either
natural or prescribed as part of a management plan. He said the main
invasive species removed with this first cutting was water oak. “The
idea was to reduce the overall forest densities and improve the forest
condition in our long-leaf habitats on the uplands and the slash-pine
habitats on the edge of the wetland areas,” Brantley said. “We also
wanted to retain the native oak component as well.

“We want the post
oaks and live oaks and needed to remove the water oaks, that in the
exclusion of prescribed fire, had grown to become a pretty good
density of the entire forest.” Wyatt understood how deer hunters could
look unfavorably on the cutting, but said deer will prosper in the
newly created open habitat. “The browse habitat for deer will be
greatly improved,” he said. “This area will also go back to an early
successional habitat with an abundance of warm-season native grasses
that are preferred by turkey and quail.” Wyatt also said a
prescribed-burning schedule has been developed to prevent the
reoccurrence of invasive species like the water oaks. Brantley said
the area logged this year will be left alone for a year to allow
whatever plants are in the “seed bank” to begin growing, then a
herbicidal spray will be applied to kill the undesirable plants. The
area will then be burned and cleared before any trees are planted.
“That’s what gives the pines a head start,” Brantley said.

Brantley
said about 30 acres remain to be logged in this first cutting and will
likely be completed this spring. He does not expect logging on the
tract to occur every year, but when it occurs will depend on what is
necessary to best manage the habitat. Brantley also added that the
state has no control over when the loggers move into an area because
the standard contract gives the winning bidder 12 months to complete
the job. Brantley said unlike some of the other properties the state
manages for a profit, the Forest Legacy program “dictates that the
land is going to be paying for itself.”

Click link for full text/increase funding for writer/producer of these
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Comments (2)

growthy (D. Angersbach)February 2nd, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Alabama: How does unsightly forest destruction restore a forest to its natural state? – http://is.gd/i2aH

growthy (D. Angersbach)February 2nd, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Alabama: How does unsightly forest destruction restore a forest to its natural state? – http://is.gd/i2aH

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