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Discussion Starter #1
The question poised from a member in another thread;


I have a question.. What determines what type of regeneration/new growth will take place in a recent clear cut?

If the cut is predominately oak will oak seedlings come up?

Or will other type trees find there way there from droppings of birds and animals?



Hoping that from these questions we can have a detailed give and take on forestry practices past and present. Everything from the terms and definitions to plants and tree info 101.

My hope is that this is a revolving open and friendly give and take on all questions about habitat, forestry (regen, harvesting, methods), plant usage by wildlife, and general field craft than a battle over the deer program.


Back in 2006 we had a thread like this that was very popular and went on for the better part of a year. A lot of field guides were bought by HPA members that year...


Regen and habitat are at the heart of the deer program and actually part of almost any other species management. But talking about it is like opening another warehouse. There is tons of information out there and much of it loses so much in short answers. Just as many parts of the regen and habitat issues are not understood - or misunderstood by many people.
 

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RSB's response.................As Bluetick already pointed out there is not hard and set fast rules on what species or regeneration you are going to get in a timber cut. There are just so many variables that often can’t be predicted.

But, with that said often Foresters will fence check the proposed cut area looking for advanced regeneration (that is new seedlings already started) in the mature forest area to be cut. That advanced regeneration is simply a new forest just waiting for enough sunlight to take off. Now that deer numbers are more in line with the existing habitat it is pretty common in the mixed oak forests to have sufficient advanced regeneration of oak sprouts before an area is cut. That is often a good sign for the Foresters but it also frequently doesn’t work out as they expected even with good advanced oak regeneration at the site.

Once the area is cut and you get a blast of sunlight getting to the forest floor everything with a seed source present is going to start the competition to be among the surviving trees. Many tree and shrub species can have seeds that lay dormant in the soil for decades and then take off as soon as you get the soil disturbance that comes with most logging operations and other seed types have been laying there dormant for decades just waiting for the sunlight they needed to jump into growth.

So in many cases it kind of depends on what seed source is already present and whether they are of a species that can grow fast enough to out compete some of the more desirable for often slower growing species. Then you have the problem of some species that simply will not compete with the faster growing species. Or, you could have a situation where there are fast growing invasive species that have no or few natural predators growing nearby that end up seeding your new cut area by either airborne seeding or seeding by birds or animals carrying the seeds. You could even still have so many deer in the area, though perhaps not a lot of deer, that move into the newly cut area, and eat off the most preferred new browse species enough to result in a cut filled with invasive species or none preferred browse or timber species. In some cases though if the deer population is about correct they will actually help with the new cut by eating some of the highly preferred browse species that are fast growing and commonly called pioneer species, like the fire cherry, and makes more room for some of the slower growing mast producing tree species.

There are just way to many variables to have a set rule on what is going to regenerate but what is guaranteed is that you will get the best results for both the future of the forest and the wildlife, including deer, populations in the areas where deer and other keystone species have been maintained at the correct natural balance.

And, make no mistake about the fact that having a good deer population, though in the correct balance with the habitat and food supply, is also very beneficial to having a healthy forest for the future. Some deer browsing is a very good thing in new cuts because the deer often prefer to browse on some of the faster growing though short lived and non-commercial tree species that can out compete the slower growing though more preferred commercially valued and mast producing trees. It isn’t that Foresters and other Resource Managers don’t want deer on their lands, it is just that they need them to be in populations that are in the correct balance. Deer are and always will be a very important component toward having a healthy forest and future for ALL forest and wildlife species.

Dick Bodenhorn
Is a clearcut or a prescribed burn better overall?

Im sure certain seedlings would respond differently to each but I wonder which would have better lasting results or is a combination of the two best..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Depends on the site. if the leaf litter is heavy after a timber cut - a burn might be in order. Lots of work goes into them thought:

The mission of the Pennsylvania Prescribed Fire Council is to promote the exchange of information, techniques, and experiences of the Pennsylvania prescribed fire community, and to promote public understanding of the importance and benefits of prescribed fire.

http://www.paprescribedfire.org/


However, if like most timber cuts, the forest floor is ripped up and generally resembles a poorly plowed field, the disturbance should be enough to allow the light to reach the forest floor and release the seed bank and promote fast growth to existing vegetation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Title: Prescribed fire research in Pennsylvania

Author: Brose, Patrick

Year: 2009

Publication: In: Hutchinson, Todd F., ed. Proceedings of the 3rd fire in eastern oak forests conference; 2008 May 20-22; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-46. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 145-146.

Abstract: Prescribed fire in Pennsylvania is a relatively new forestry practice because of the State's adverse experience with highly destructive wildfires in the early 1900s. The recent introduction of prescribed fire raises a myriad of questions regarding its correct and safe use. This poster briefly describes the prescribed fire research projects of the Forestry Sciences Lab located at Irvine, PA.


http://nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/7301
 

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One of the biggest, if not the biggest, factors in what kind of regeneration you get after a timber harvest is what kind of regen you had before the cut even began. If someone clear-cuts an oak stand with no oak regeneration, there certainly won't be much oak regeneration after the cut, except for a few stump sprouts (which generally get hammered by the deer).

In a recent clear-cut, RX fire is a good tool to control competition, but again, no oak before the burn, not much after.

Am RX burn in an oak stand that has been LIGHTLY thinned, now you may have something. The seed producers are still present, and the fire is prepping the understory for better germinating conditions... It may take two or three fires to get these results, but it is possible.

Managing for certain tree species takes time in planning. If you just cut it and see what happens, you are taking a risk of getting less than desirable results.
 

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I totally agree with btm's comments. I was involved with many of the large salvage clearcuts on state forest lands in the 70's and 80's following gypsy moth defolations resulting in heavy oak mortality.

Most of the oak stands were lacking in oak regeneration but there weren't too many options - either salvage the oak or let it rot. This was pretty much a cut it and see what happens approach. Many of these salvage sales resulted in a less desireable species mix of red maple, black birch and black gum. Some have a fair amount of oak and I have even seen a few where oak saplings appear to be more abundant after the birch began to thin itself out and die after 15-20 years. These salvage areas are now 30+or- years old poletimber with little present value to deer but will hold up much better to future gypsy moth devastations because of the lower oak %.

Man of these salvage clearcuts were huge, hundreds of acres up to 800 acres in size. At that time there was no limit on the size of clearcuts but I think today, depending on the area, can't exceed 70 or 100 acres. Of coures the deer herd was larger then but it seemed like sometimes several of these huge cuts in close proximity would overwhelm the deer herd and allow some oak to get established especially when the deer had agricultural areas as an alternative food source and didn't have to survive entirely on all the newly available browse.
 

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I think they can make the salvage cuts as big as they want, both the DCNR and PGC. We have lots of new big ones here in western Centre Co.
There are some massive clearcuts in the Quehanna from the 1980's that are 99% red maple and birch. I wish the DCNR would go in and cut some of it for pulp. I know it is not worth any $$$. But, it would be good for the forest and the critters. I guess the DCNR is managing it for red maple saw logs in a couple decades.
 

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btm137 said:
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, factors in what kind of regeneration you get after a timber harvest is what kind of regen you had before the cut even began. If someone clear-cuts an oak stand with no oak regeneration, there certainly won't be much oak regeneration after the cut, except for a few stump sprouts (which generally get hammered by the deer).

In a recent clear-cut, RX fire is a good tool to control competition, but again, no oak before the burn, not much after.

Am RX burn in an oak stand that has been LIGHTLY thinned, now you may have something. The seed producers are still present, and the fire is prepping the understory for better germinating conditions... It may take two or three fires to get these results, but it is possible.

Managing for certain tree species takes time in planning. If you just cut it and see what happens, you are taking a risk of getting less than desirable results.
x2
 

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Discussion Starter #9
TusseyMtMan said:
I think they can make the salvage cuts as big as they want, both the DCNR and PGC. We have lots of new big ones here in western Centre Co.
There are some massive clearcuts in the Quehanna from the 1980's that are 99% red maple and birch. I wish the DCNR would go in and cut some of it for pulp. I know it is not worth any $$$. But, it would be good for the forest and the critters. I guess the DCNR is managing it for red maple saw logs in a couple decades.

Say they do. What comes back?

If the oak isn't there or a viable seed source you get what you cut out coming right back.


This is the reason so many cuts are done select letting mast producing trees to get the regen before the final cut.
 

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Bluetick,

You are right, cutting birch and red maple will probably result in more birch and red maple. However, I do know what Tussey means by huge salvage areas from the 80's with a monoculture of birch/red maple poles on all of it. From a habitat standpoint, regenerating the stand to get some early successional habitat is by far the best thing a manager can do for wildlife. I am not saying level 800 acres at once, but 50-75 acres at a time to try to create some sort of stand structure across the landscape.
 

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Yes, Bluetick, I understand. Imagine walking for mile after mile and seeing 0 underbrush, just pole timber and mature oaks/red maple.
Like BTM said, it is a monoculture dead-zone. I know DCNR has different goals than the PGC. But, it is the Elk Range and the DCNR will do habitat work up there.
 

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TusseyMtMan said:
There are some massive clearcuts in the Quehanna from the 1980's that are 99% red maple and birch.
Much of Quehanna has very infertile soils, and that probably has a huge influence on the original vegetation. And on what you could possibly achieve with management changes.

How much are the soils considered in forest management? Do they really go in and test the soils carefully? Do they have them mapped out in any kind of detail, and are the forest plans tuned according to the soils?
 

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TusseyMtMan said:
I think they can make the salvage cuts as big as they want, both the DCNR and PGC. We have lots of new big ones here in western Centre Co.
There are some massive clearcuts in the Quehanna from the 1980's that are 99% red maple and birch. I wish the DCNR would go in and cut some of it for pulp. I know it is not worth any $$$. But, it would be good for the forest and the critters. I guess the DCNR is managing it for red maple saw logs in a couple decades.
The problem is that many of those failed stands are just now hitting the "pole" stage. Still too small to really be marketable, but big enough to really start noticing that something needs to be done. We have a few areas like that right now in Michuax. We are looking at putting these areas up for pulp sales, but when the average size is only 6-8", it takes ALOT of stems and a alot of acerage to justify a pulp cutting. If you let those stems go another 5 - 10 years, and get the average size into the 8-10" range. it's a little easier to make it saleable. On the Habitat tour that Michuax State Forest did 2 years ago, they took a stop at an area that is just that. WE're going to look at putting in a pulp sale, but the stems are still at the lower end of the diameter limit for pulp.

I think DCNR and PGC are doing more of the cuttings that you're referring to, it's just it's not happening in the area you're referring to. Call the local DCNR office and talk to a forester and see if they've looked at that stand and if there are plans for that area. You might be surprised at what is going on out there.

Oh forgot to add, once those areas are cut (birch/maple pole stands) they will likely be replanted with red, white, and chestnut oaks, as well as white pine.
 

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troutbert said:
TusseyMtMan said:
There are some massive clearcuts in the Quehanna from the 1980's that are 99% red maple and birch.
Much of Quehanna has very infertile soils, and that probably has a huge influence on the original vegetation. And on what you could possibly achieve with management changes.

How much are the soils considered in forest management? Do they really go in and test the soils carefully? Do they have them mapped out in any kind of detail, and are the forest plans tuned according to the soils?
I'm sure they are mapped and considered. If you are not familiar, you can look at soils across the state at any level you wish. Go to the following link and have fun.

http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm
 

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Thanks for the input.
I would think there are many parts of the Quehanna that have good soils, at least from a forestry perspective. There is some nice red oak up in there, especially up on top.
I understand the economics and you are right, some of it is a little small. I am fortunate to live real handy to the massive salvage cutting going on on sgl 33,60, and the Centre Co tract of the Moshannon SF. I have been able to see a bunch of areas of different timber quality cut. Interestingly, much of it is growing back in sassafrass, something I bet most of you guys don't see much of.
Back to the Quehanna, there may be some restrictions because it is a "wild area"? I'm sure that didn't count when they were doing the salvage.
And, the areas that are re-planted, are they fenced?
 

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TusseyMtMan said:
Thanks for the input.
I would think there are many parts of the Quehanna that have good soils, at least from a forestry perspective. There is some nice red oak up in there, especially up on top.
I understand the economics and you are right, some of it is a little small. I am fortunate to live real handy to the massive salvage cutting going on on sgl 33,60, and the Centre Co tract of the Moshannon SF. I have been able to see a bunch of areas of different timber quality cut. Interestingly, much of it is growing back in sassafrass, something I bet most of you guys don't see much of.
Back to the Quehanna, there may be some restrictions because it is a "wild area"? I'm sure that didn't count when they were doing the salvage.
And, the areas that are re-planted, are they fenced?
one area that was salvaged, was replanted and fenced. the natural regen way out grew the oak seeds/tubes. Clearly there was ALOT of oak regen present when the mortality to the overstory occured. Another area, was fenced, not planted, and came back in birch. another area was not fenced, planted, and the oaks in the tubes are growing, but are just now starting to really "take off" and many are behind in the race to dominance. yet another area wasn't planted or fenced, just salvaged (not clearcut salvage, salvage shelterwood) and it's mainly gum birch and maple and white pine coming back natural. The white pine is really starting to fill in and overtop much of the less desirable species...

In terms of sassafras, it's a pioneer species... It'll drop out eventually and other specis will fill in. Sassafras is hard to control. It's colonal, which means if you cut it, not only will it stump sprout, but it will shoot new growth off it's root system. proper herbicide treatment is about the only control for sass... Fire will genearlly only promote it as once again, it'll just shoot new growth from it's roots.

I guess BTM said it best though. If there's a massive disaster in a stand, (heavy mortality due to gypsy moth) and there isn't any oak regeneration on the ground yet, whatever viable seed is in the seed bank (your birch, gum, fire cherry etc...) that's what will come back after the salvage. Many people see "failed salvage cuts" as the fault of PGC or DCNR, but with salvage, you basically have little control at all over what comes back in after the harvest unless you plant, and even then, oaks spend the first 5 years building root growth, while the birch and maple are putting on stem growth. Oaks are behind the race from the start. Until we are capable of really really being generous with prescribed fire, it's going to be a tough battle in controling the birch and maple problem.
 

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The timing of RX fire is also just as big a key as the fire itself. Burns at different times of the year will get you different results in regen. The Nature Conservancy, PGC, and DCNR have been co-oping on burning oak stands near Fur Fin Feather TP for a few years with good results.

In terms of logging cuts on a large scale or any scale, the enviromental laws loggers need to play by today are quite different than the 70's and 80's. THe bottom line on the bottom line is it is more expensive just to set an area up to log it which in turn also chops away at the bottom line.

Don't ignore the $4.00+ a gallon diesel for logging operations. I wasn't logging in the 70's and 80's but I would bet diesel was under a buck a gal then...

I had a forester from PSU extension tell me that if you want to determine what and how much to cut- don't look up look down. See what your regen will be and let that help guide the selection process of trees to cut.

PGC and TNC have been very active this past fall and winter in the Poconos area in general having contractors use forestry mowers to cut firebreaks in some pretty large dia. stuff. This is so this coming burn season they can use RX fire to manage these blocks in 30+ acres burn units.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
30 acres - big burn area.
 

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You read that wrong or I typed it poorly. Each unit is around 30+/- acres. Some tracts may have up to 20 or more of these units. And this stuff up here is peanuts from what I have been told how they manage areas with RX fire in FL. Down there units are 300 acres in size and they often do multiple units per day. They also have an ability to perform ignitions with helicopters which tends to speed things up a bit...
 

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You should see how they do it at Ft. Indiantown Gap.... They burn 1000 acre units in a matter of an hour or two with aerial ignition (helicopter). I was pretty impressed the first time I helped them down there.
 
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