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Discussion Starter #1
...Down In The Dirt

Many on here receive this update and this one seemed pretty important.
The PH of the soils tested is waayy low and prohibits both plant and tree growth. If we are gonna manage deer in the future these findings could have a big impact on the future of the NC mountains.
I'm just looking for thoughts from posters on if these findings mean alot to you?
Could the soil PH cause the deer herd to be very low in these regions?

Down In The Dirt
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ph of 7.0 is neutral. Look how dreadfully low the ph is the areas tested.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Although beautiful in the Spring the Mountain Laurel grows best in truly acidic soil. Not good stuff for the deer.

 

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Yep,in areas with poor growing conditions there will be less food available for deer and no legitimate reason to increase deer numbers.In these parts,they used to fence the deer out and the regeneration would take off.Now we have less deer and there's no need to fence.That certainly isn't the case everywhere.

Here's one for the team.Beech is less tolerant to acidic soils than oak is.Why does beech quickly take over some areas and the oak doesn't?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
And Hay Scented Ferns are prolific at low PH.

 

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Well,we have lot's of laurel and hay scented ferns up here as well.However,if you keep the deer at bay,you get oak regeneration.
 

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Those PH levels border on the disastrous. A ph of 5 is 10x more acidic then a PH of 6, a PH of 4 is 100x more acidic.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In areas of continuous forest, with no agriculture for miles around, it would appear that the PH of the soil has affected what grows there.
For many years now I was under the impression that the over abundant deer herd was the reason for nothing worth while growing.

You can throw out the theory of the biological carrying capacity can be adjusted by shooting more deer and it'll give more deer.
The PH of the soil is looking more like the only thing affecting the deer numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
"This would suggest that soil, not deer's discriminating and selective palate, as the problem."
 

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The real problem is that the other problems i.e. acidic soil and invasive species appear to be too costly to fix.
 

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No one has ever discounted that acidic soils will or can impact regeneration.Pa has oak trees that are 80 years old in places,yet are only 8" in diameter.You can't argue that deer caused that but you say that it would be a bad idea to add more deer to that situation.

We have loads of hay scented ferns and laurel in this area.Interestingly,when deer numbers were high,the regeneration was just fine if the deer were fenced out.Now that the deer herd is much smaller,DCNR hasn't had to fence a timber sale in over 6 years in this district and they're getting good regeneration.

There most certainly are areas with very poor acidic soil and there isn't much that can be done with those areas.There most likely will never be decent regeneration or large numbers of deer.Those areas are the exception rather than the rule.
 

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Goosehunter said:
In areas of continuous forest, with no agriculture for miles around, it would appear that the PH of the soil has affected what grows there.
For many years now I was under the impression that the over abundant deer herd was the reason for nothing worth while growing.

You can throw out the theory of the biological carrying capacity can be adjusted by shooting more deer and it'll give more deer.
The PH of the soil is looking more like the only thing affecting the deer numbers.
That's not what he's saying.READ THIS
http://ecosystems.psu.edu/research/projects/deer/news/2015/the-mountain-laurel-is-in-bloom
 

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You also have to wonder how the long-term suppression of fire has contributed to the low pH observed.

Something tells me the tailspin of the PA forest started long before the deer population got out of control and the excessive deer population only made it worse.
 

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Wiz said:
You also have to wonder how the long-term suppression of fire has contributed to the low pH observed.

Something tells me the tailspin of the PA forest started long before the deer population got out of control and the excessive deer population only made it worse.
Kind of think you're right. I wonder what the PH of those tested samples was say 20 years ago. Are our forests becoming more acidic?
 

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It's absolutely a combination of many factors including but not limited to deer,soils,lack of fire,invasive species and light.Some of those factors are more of a factor in different areas but they all contribute to a certain extent.I don't believe anyone ever disputed that.The fact still remains,you shouldn't add more deer to poor habitat or habitat that's stressed.Fire is great but there's a short window to do it and it's labor intensive.They just can't do huge areas at a time.Lime has been tried and the results have been less than spectacular when they did try.I've never tested the soils around this part of the state but we had understories cobered in hay scented ferns and we have areas loaded with laurel.Beech is less tolerant to acidic soils than oak but it also grows rampant,primarily because deer don't touch it and it root sprouts.wHEN dcnr WOULD GO IN AND DO A SHELTEROOD CUT,THE OAK WOULD GROW LIKE CRAZY.nOW THAT THE DEER HERD HAS BEEN REDUCED,THEY HAVEN'T FENCED A CUT IN OVER 6 YEARS AND THEY'VE TAKEN EVERY UNIT OUT OF DMAP IN DISTRICT 9.The solis haven't changed.They only thing that's changed in the deer density.I have little doubt that the soil is so poor in certain areas that the regeneration will be poor,regardless of how many deer are there.It still makes no sense to add more deer to areas that can't sustain themselves.People want so bad for deer not to be the primary issue but the facts point to them as one of the primary reasons.
 

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The Eastern forests are also aging with a higher percentage of mature timber which in our case affects deer,grouse and turkey populations.The future does not look good for the public land hunter which is sad.I'm glad I have other options.
 

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Rich,I haven't hunt the south side of I80 in several years so I can't comment.I can tell you that the public land it's pretty good on the north side.
 

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Don't feel too bad for us up north guys. we have lots of clear cuts and it seems like both the DCNR and game com are still logging. I'm just wondering what effect all these Marcellus wells will have on the long term health of the forests though.
 

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Goosehunter said:
Could the soil PH cause the deer herd to be very low in these regions?
Maybe, but DMAP & lack of timber harvest absolutely have a much bigger effect.

A soil sample from NC PA forestland that is sent to Penn State labs will return a recommendation of 9,000+ lbs/acre of lime. And that's just in order to grow TREES, not farm crops!

Goosehunter, you've been here long enough, you should remember Dr. Sharpe's work on "Effects of Acidic Deposition on Pennsylvania's Forests" from the 1990's, and how industry in the Ohio valley has changed PA forest soils over time. It was so controversial at the time Alt was assigned deer management revamp because it flew in the face of DCNR's Forest Certification goals.

Reducing deer density has enabled Forest Certification, but there is NO evidence that any additional or so-called "higher quality" food has resulted in any benefit to the deer.


So, while PA forest soils are extremely acidic, the overriding factors are:
1) Timber harvests that are 50% of goal
2) DMAP of 25+ doe tags per sq mi. (when deer density is already down to ~10)

 
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