According to the USDA Forest Service
the amount of timbering in PA is decreasing and “a better distribution of forest land by age classes is needed. “
Why is this important to hunters? This lack of forest management in turn decreases the CARRYING CAPACITY of the land as it shifts more forest from seedling/sapling stage timber (the highest food production) and into the older age classes (low food production).
This is not only happening on private land across the state, it’s also happening on State Game Lands. In other words, this trend decreases the amount of food available and therefore reduces the abundance of GAME available on our Game Lands! Today the SGL system consists of less than 9% s/s, 24+% pole, and a whopping 67% saw timber which is worse management than PA as a whole. Why is this being allowed to happen?
It wasn’t always this way.
Back in the late 1970’s PGC biologist Steve Liscinsky determined that a “desirable” forest composition included 20% s/s, 30% pole, 50% saw timber http://www.fortgrundsow.com/PGN1978FebBradyLake1.jpg
. These figures are still cited today by USDA. In essence, the 100-year rotation cycle made for “a forest well balanced for a sustained yield of [both] WOOD and WILDLIFE”. He also noted that the U.S. Forest survey of 1965 indicated PA was APPROACHING this balance statewide at the time. Shortly thereafter timber harvest on SGL was stepped up and approached 1% annually, the future of hunting looked bright.
However by the early 1990’s, SGL timber harvest dropped. Around 1999 (the same time the new deer program was introduced) SGL timber harvest rate dropped again, this time to almost 1/4 of 1% annually and has yet to rebound. Why?
It seems to me that PA as a whole has never in our lifetimes been in a better position (in terms of lowered deer density) to conduct aggressive timber harvest, it might prove to be even a short window of opportunity, and yet the SGL timber harvest remains in low gear. Why?
For every year that passes without change, 1000’s of acres of forest land are TAKEN OUT OF ROTATION and set aside to stand idle. More and more old saw timber is accumulating on the SGL system - the gap between goal and actual harvest growing wider.
Professionals managing private land for deer hunting often reduce deer numbers and then recommend cutting up to a 10% slug at a time to “get ahead” of the deer browsing pressure. At this point, PGC could take a 10% cut on SGL in just one year and still not be completely back on track. But any increase would be a welcome one IMHO.
USDA recommends higher harvest, PGC biologists recommend it, can anyone answer why so little is being cut on SGL?