Forest Stewardship Plan for John Matel and Christine Johnson, Brodnax Tract

Forest Stewardship Plan for
John Matel and Christine Johnson, Brodnax Tract

Introduction

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan covers the examination of approximately 135 acres of forestland in Brunswick Country, near Brodnax, Virginia. The tract map is included.

The tract is mostly flat. It includes approximately 117 acres of pine plantation, 18 acres of steam management zones.  The land was likely cleared for agriculture at one time, but has been forest for at least 70 years, as evidenced by old loblolly pines planted in rows that remain in some of the SMZs.

Overall wildlife habitat and forest health are being maintained and improved by thinning, burning and planting feed and pollinator habitat in patches in the woods and along the powerlines, and maintaining soft edges.

No endangered species of plants or animals were noted on the tract.

Forest Stewardship Management Plan

Landowners: John Matel & Christine Johnson
8126 Quinn Terrace, Vienna, VA 22180

Telephone: Mobile 703-300-3843; 703-774-6566

Forested acres: 135

Total acres: 135

Location: Brodnax, Virginia

Prepared by: John Matel

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan was designed to help guide the management activities of the natural resources on the property for the next ten years. The plan is based on our goals in harmony with the environment around you. Project recommendations are for your consideration.

The Goals for Managing the Property:

  1. Innovations in forest management to restore longleaf ecosystem
  2. Soil and Water Conservation.
  3. Improvement of wildlife habitat.
  4. Experiment with patch burning

 

 

DESCRIPTIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS OF PARCELS:

Tract 1

Acres: 20

Forest Type: Longleaf pine

Species Present: Loblolly & longleaf pine, ailanthus, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: Longleaf pine planted 2016.  Volunteers of other species same time.

Size: Planted 2016. Currently small

Quality: good.  IMO a little thin with longleaf.

Trees/acre: Thinly stocked for our management objectives, but enough, since we want to allow growth of grass and forbs.

Growth Rate: excellent.

Recommendations:

The vegetative nature of this parcel provides benefits to wildlife due to the diversity of ground covers and understories.  We plan to

  • Do understory burns every 2-4 years. This will over time make the stand more exclusively longleaf
  • Create field borders on this parcel
  • Maintain and enhance diverse and native ground covers

Tract 2

Acres: 30

Forest Type: Loblolly pine planted 2016

Species Present: Longleaf & loblolly pine, sumac, some oak, ailanthus, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: Planted in 2016

Size:  Tallest around 8 feet high in 2018

Quality: Excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked.  Trees are widely spaced on purpose to allow wildlife and understory growth

Growth Rate: Excellent

Recommendations:

Parcel will be burned o/a 2021, a cool season fire to clear hardwood and thin volunteer loblolly.   Density will be maintained low enough to allow growth of forbs and grass for wildlife habitat.

Tract 3 a, b & c

Acres: 45

Forest Type: Loblolly & longleaf pine.

Species Present: Loblolly and longleaf pine, ailanthus, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: Loblolly planted 1992. Longleaf pine planted 2018/19

Size: chip and saw to sawtimber, loblolly; longleaf are seedlings

Quality:  excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked, although purposely thinner than standard management due to our desire to maintain wildlife habitat.

Growth Rate: Excellent

Recommendations:

Tract a, b & c will be burned in alternatively to create and maintain wildlife habitat and maintain a fire regime more like pre-settlement patterns in Virginia. This tract also includes pollinator habitat planted in 2018 along the edges.  We hope and expect this to seed into the sunny forest.

Tract 4 a, b & c

Acres: 24

Forest Type: Loblolly pine.

Species Present: Loblolly and longleaf pine, ailanthus, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: Loblolly planted 2007

Size: mostly pulp; some chip and saw

Quality:  excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked, maybe even a bit too tight.  Shade does not allow much to grow on the ground under the trees.

Growth Rate: Excellent

Recommendations:

Tract a, & c will be burned in alternatively to thin in lieu of pre-commercial thinning.  Track 4b will be left unburned as a control plot

 

 

PARCEL SMZ

Acres: 18

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods and pine.

Species Present: Loblolly pine, ailanthus, American beech, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: 40 to 80 years

Size: Various sizes including significant saw timber.  (10 to 18 inches in diameter)

Quality: Good to excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Good to excellent

Recommendations:

This parcel is in place to protect water quality and to provide wildlife corridors.  We will periodically examine the SMZs for invasive species and treat as appropriate.  Beyond that, this area will be generally left to natural processes, with interventions only in the case of some sort of disaster, such as fire or particularly violent storms.

Wildlife Recommendations

Field Borders

Field borders are established along woodland edges and major drainages. Field borders create vegetative transition zones between cover types. Such zones are much more attractive to wildlife than the abrupt change that often occurs, for example, between field and forest.

 

 

Daylighting consists of cutting most,  not all, trees in a specified area to encourage and accelerate the growing and non-shade tolerant plants. Existing shrubs, vines and herbaceous (non-woody) plants should be left undisturbed to the extent possible. Woodland edges should be daylighted to a depth of 40 feet, recognizing that remaining trees will quickly reach out to shade the opening. Field borders established by daylighting have the advantage of taking no acreage from existing open land.

Where the loss of open land is not a major concern, a natural border can also be created by allowing woody plants to invade and encroach into existing open edges. “Encroachment” borders, like those daylighted, should be wide, at least 30 feet. Where grass is well established, this should be destroyed by plowing or by the use of a herbicide. This will speed up the invasion of the more desirable “border plants.” The establishment of field borders using this practice requires the least expense and labor.

If natural borders seem undesirable (perhaps from an aesthetic standpoint); the planting of shrubs is an option frequently used. Additionally, with the use of these, the results are more reliable, and, in the long run, maintenance will be less (natural borders will be invaded with trees that should be cut back periodically). The transition from field to tree line should be gradual in height. Here, shrub plantings also have an advantage. By proper selection and arrangement of shrub varieties, the border can be a stair step from field to treetop. Taller growing shrubs, such as Mountain Ash should be placed next to the woods. Lower growing varieties, such as the shrub dogwoods or bi-color (VA-70) lespedeza should be placed against the taller varieties. The total depth of a shrub border should be at least 20 feet.

The final touch to any border is the establishment of a herbaceous strip along the open side. These may not be necessary, if the border joins an annually tilled or recently fallowed field. If not, a strip 10 to 20 feet wide parallel to and adjoining the border should be plowed or disked. This can remain fallow for up to two or three years, allowing annual native plants to grow back many of which provide excellent wildlife food and cover. Or, if desired, these strips can be seeded using one of the warm-season grasses, white clover, Korean or Kobe lespedeza, or one of the locally well suited agricultural grains.

Borders need not completely rim every field or fringe every wood line. Yet, they should be employed to the greatest extent possible. Good field borders provide food, cover, and security. Perhaps equally important, they provide a most favorable “edge,” a critical component in the habitat chosen by most wildlife.

Open Fields

Probably the best practice to enhance open fields for wildlife is the establishment of field borders. These have been described.

Thinning

Tract 3

This area was thinned in 2017 to 50 BA. Thinning will increase their ecological value to wildlife. Thinning allows sunlight to reach the forest floor which stimulates the growth of forbs, legumes, and other herbaceous material. Tree tops left on the forest floor provide temporary cover and nesting places. Thinning can also increase mast production of healthy oaks and hickories.

Snags

All

Snags, dead or deteriorating trees, are an important habitat component in forests for wildlife. The availability of snags on forest lands affects the abundance, diversity and species richness of cavity nesting birds and mammals. Two to four snags per acre should be maintained in the forest. Such trees provide forage, cover, perches, and nesting sites for wildlife species such as raccoons, bats, flying squirrels, snakes, owls, woodpeckers, bluebirds (near open areas), and wrens, to name but a few. When snags are lacking in a forest, they can be created by girdling trees of poor quality or health.

A prescribed fire in 2018 left a couple dozen trees dead.  They will be left as snags.

Forest Openings

 

This area benefits from the development of forest openings to encourage the development of low growing plants. There are opening on all tracts

Prescribed Burning

Periodic burning is a tool used. Please see above.

Logging Roads

Soil erosion can be prevented through the careful location and maintenance of logging roads. Dominion Power maintains an access road along the power lines.  This is the only regular road on the land.

Broad base dips and drainage ditches should be placed 20 feet apart on steep slopes and 50 feet apart on medium slopes. Loading areas should be seeded in game food after harvest. When logging is complete, ruts and gullies should be filled and the road should be out-sloped slightly. Closing of roads to unauthorized traffic will prevent damage to newly sown grass or wildlife food. More information is available in the enclosed brochure.

Skid trails, haul roads, and log decks should be seeded with a mix of orchard grass and ladino clover.

Prepared by: _John Matel____________________________

Suggested Schedule of Management Activities

Year Tract Activity
2018 3a Growing season burn
2018 3a Understory plant longleaf
2019

2020

3c & 4c

3b & 4a

Winter burn

Winter burn

2021/22 1 & 2 Winter burn
2022 SMZ Remove invasive species
2023 3b & c  Clear cut harvest
2023 3a Harvest leaving 8 seed trees per acre
2023 4a, b & c First thinning to 80 BA
2023 3 & 4 Spray
2024 3b & c Plant with Longleaf pine 400/acre
2024 3a Seed tree regeneration
2025 1 Winter burn
2028 1 & 3b & c Winter burn
2030 4a, b & c Thinning to 50 BA
2030 3a Remove seed trees
2030 1, 2, 3b & c Winter burn
     

This schedule may need to be adjusted depending on financial needs, timber markets, timing of actual harvest, and availability of contractors.

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