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State Game Lands should be over 50% young forests

681 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jlane35
I was just thinking about the discussions we've been having about what percentage of Pennslyvania State Game Lands are in young forest as opposed to what percent should be. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why we shouldn't be pushing to have more than 50% of the SGL in shrub or young forest. Most game species do better in Early Succesional Habitat (ESH) than in pole timber or mature forests. Think about it. The obvious benefactors would be grouse and woodcock, but Deer, Bear, Snowshoe Hare, Rabbits all do better in the young forest / shrub habitat. Turkeys and Squirrel sometimes take advantage of it as well.

I found the following quote regarding the carrying capacity for different forest types for deer.

The PA Game Commission has determined that early successional, or young forests, with a lot of young trees and shrubs, can support 50 deer per forested square mile over winter. Pole-timber stands, or forests in which the trees are between 5 and 11 inches in diameter, provide very little habitat for deer, supporting as few as 5 deer per-forested square mile over winter. Mature forests, which provide good cover for deer and moderate amounts of browse and mast (food), can support about 20 deer per forested square mile over winter.

If the primary purpose of the game lands is the management of habitat for wildlife and provide opportunities for lawful hunting and trapping then why isn't the majority of the game lands property in ESH?
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What does it matter?

I'm lucky enough to have 218 private acres to hunt and manage. I'm focusing on creating ESH. Before we did anything to improve the land there was a small area that held a few rabbits. I've hinged trees, planted spruce, and crabapple trees and stopped mowing. The spruce and crabapples are still young so as of right now they do not contribute to any success, but they will In the future. This area is no larger then 10 acres and we or the dogs kicked up 8 different rabbits hunting one day before Thanksgiving. I kicked out a grouse last year and this spring I found 4 woodcock nests with eggs.

I can't wait until I start converting another 25 acres or so of old hayfields.

The woods are another story, we timbered 4 years ago and since then I have seen 5 grouse, and one had 6 chicks with her in the spring.
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You are very lucky! The problem is we need a lot more people to do what you are doing to have a great effect.
That includes public land too.
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