Forest Stewardship Plan Diamond Grove Tract

Forest Stewardship Plan for John Matel and Christine Johnson, Diamond Grove Tract

Forest Stewardship Plan for

John Matel and Christine Johnson, Diamond Grove Tract

Introduction

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan covers of approximately 178 acres of forestland in Brunswick Country, on Diamond Grove Road (SR 623) just north of Genito Creek, near Brodnax, Virginia. The tract map is included.

The tract is mostly low hills. It includes approximately 110 acres of loblolly pine plantation planted in 2003.  The loblolly pines were thinned pre- commercially in 2008 and biosolids were applied that same year. The tract also includes 2 acres of open field (grasses, forbs and flowers) first established in 2007 and maintained for pollinator/wildlife habitat, 6 acres covered by roads and 50 acres of steam management zones and/or areas frequently flooded.  The land was cleared for agriculture at one time but has been mostly forest for at least 80 years.

Overall wildlife habitat and forest health are maintained and improved by thinning, burning/mowing and planting feed and pollinator habitat in patches in the woods and along roads, and maintaining soft edges. Most of the roads are covered in grass and forbs, with a big component of lespedeza.

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

Forested acres: 170

Total acres: 178

Location: Brodnax, Virginia on Diamond Grove Road (SR 623)

Prepared by: John Matel

 

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan is designed to guide and document management activities of the natural resources on the property for the next ten years, in harmony with the environment and will enhance and regenerate the ecologies on the land.

The Goals for Managing this Property:

  • Produce forest products sustainably
  • Soil and water conservation
  • Encourage diverse and productive ecology
    • Restore oak/shortleaf pine ecology in upland section
    • Restore/establish bald cypress/tupelo ecology near creek
  • Improvement of wildlife habitat.
    • Experiment with patch burning for wildlife
    • Maintain soft edges near roads and stands

DESCRIPTIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS (Acreage approximate and do not sum to total)

Grove 1

Acres: 20

Forest Type: Loblolly pine planted 2003

Species Present: Loblolly & shortleaf pine, ailanthus, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, 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 2003. Various volunteer trees seeded in at that time or later.

Size: Medium, ready for first thinning

Quality: Good, a little too dense.

Trees/acre:  Around 700 trees per acre

Growth Rate: excellent.

Recommendations:

Thin in 2020 to 80 BA. Understory burn soon after thinning, repeat every 4-5 years.  Thin again +8 years 50 BA, to allow more diverse ground cover.  Continue burn regime. Harvest around 2038.

Special notes:

Much of the land consists of fairly steep, north facing slope.  Prescribed fire can back down the slope to wet SMZ.

Groves 2 – 6

These groves form one natural unit but are listed separately because they will be burned in different year to maintain the patch burn wildlife benefits.

Acres:  73 (Grove 2 – 26; Grove 3 – 8;  Grove 4 – 7; Grove 5 – 20; Grove 6 – 12)

Forest Type: Loblolly pine planted 2003

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

Age: Loblolly planted 2003. Various volunteer trees seeded in at that time or later.

Size: Medium, ready for first thinning

Quality: Good, a little too dense.

Trees/acre:  Around 700 trees per acre

Growth Rate: excellent.

Recommendations:

Thin in 2020 to 80 BA. Understory burn soon after thinning, repeat every 4-5 years.  Thin again +8 years 50 BA, to allow more diverse ground cover.  Continue burn regime. Harvest around 2038.

Special notes:

This grove is situated on high ground, that slopes into SMZ on all sides.  It is divided by a gravel and dirt road.  This will facilitate prescribed fire. The groves contain pollinator meadows, which should be burned more often than the surrounding loblolly in order to maintain and enhance pollinator habitat.  As a substitute, will mow the meadow every two years and burn on same schedule as forest.

Groves 5 & 6 have significant infestations of invasive ailanthus, which require persistent management.

Grove 7

Acres: 8

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

Forest Type: Loblolly pine planted 2003

Age: Loblolly planted 2003. Various volunteer trees seeded in at that time or later.

Size: Medium, ready for first thinning

Quality: Good, a little too dense.

Trees/acre:  Around 700 trees per acre

Growth Rate: excellent.

Recommendations:

Thin in 2020 to 80 BA. Thin again +8 years 50 BA, to allow more diverse ground cover.  No fire regime on this grove. Harvest around 2038.

Special notes:

This grove is roughly triangular shaped, flat and damp.  It is bordered by SMZ on one side, a forest road on another, but there are no natural or created barriers abutting the neighboring property.  For this reason, we will not burn this grove. It can serve as a control case for other burned sections.

Grove 8

Acres: 14

Forest Type: Loblolly pine planted 2003

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

Age: Loblolly planted 2003. Various volunteer trees seeded in at that time or later.

Size: Medium, ready for first thinning

Quality: Good, a little too dense.

Trees/acre:  Around 700 trees per acre

Growth Rate: excellent.

 

Recommendations:

Thin in 2020 to 80 BA. Understory burn soon after thinning, repeat every 4-5 years.  Thin again +8 years 50 BA, to allow more diverse ground cover.  Continue burn regime. Harvest around 2038.

Special notes:

This grove has about 300 yards of frontage on SR 623. It is mostly flat and wet.

 

Grove A – Cypress and tupelo

Acres: 7

Species Present: Loblolly, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, Virginia pine, holly, black locust, black gum, and red maple.

Age: Loblolly planted 2003. Various volunteer trees seeded in at that time or later.

Size: Medium, ready for harvest (see note)

Quality: Poor – the ground is not good for growing loblolly.

Trees/acre:  Around 500 trees per acre

Growth Rate: medium

Recommendation:

Harvest in 2020, replant with cypress & water tupelo (see notes below)

Special notes:

This area drains the local road (SR 623) and is subject of periodic flood from the waters of Genito Creek. It heavily colonized by invasive multiflora rose.  It does not support a good stand of pine, and I do not think it well-suited to loblolly and consider adding it to the SMZ.  My plan is that when the rest of the tract is thinned, we will clear this section, burn the section and spray, as required.  In spring 2021, we will plant bald cypress and tupelo, both better adapted to the soggy alluvial soil and this ecology will provide considerable water quality and wildlife benefits.  Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) is especially good for pollinators.  We will plant about 450 to the acre, alternating rows of tupelo with cypress to provide diversity.

Grove B – SMZ

Acres: 50

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods and pine.

Species Present:

Loblolly pine, ailanthus, American beech, American sycamore, sweet gum, yellow poplar, eastern red cedar, hackberry, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, pin oak, swamp white oak, , green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, box elder and red maple.

With an interesting variation, there are significant numbers of buckeye and catalpa, neither are native to this part of Virginia.  I speculate that they were planted around some no longer extant homestead.  I also noticed profusions of box elders, sometimes forming pure groves of short-lived trees.

Age: Mature trees 40-80 years old, some older and many younger.  This is a mature uneven-aged ecology.

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 disturbance, such as fire or particularly violent storms.

Special notes:

Most of the SMZ is along Genito Creek, a red bottomed waterway that meanders.  In some places it has created natural levies.  Genito Creek was originally the boundary of the property, and you can still see the former streambed, sometimes with flowing water. But the mainstream now runs several hundred yards into the Diamond Grove tract, promiscuously cutting into banks and disciplined only by infrastructure around the bridge over Diamond Grove road.  Our property is also on both sides of Diamond Grove Road at the bridge, as the road was moved around 1960. The old road bed, about 100 yards from the current road, forms the property boundary.

Grove C Beauty zone

Acres: 2

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

Age: Some very large and old loblolly, oak and yellow popular probably 60-100 years old, but generally uneven aged stand.

Size:  Various ages and sizes.

Quality: Good. Beautiful.

Trees/acre:  Around 400 trees per acre

Growth Rate: mature

Recommendations:

Some old loblolly are probably reaching the end of their lives.  If it seems appropriate to the loggers, we will remove a load of pine saw timber, facilitating the transition to a southern hardwood forest and retaining the attractive appearance along Diamond Grove Road.

Grove D – Oak & shortleaf

Acres: 2

Special notes:

I am converting a small area on top of the hill to the white oak and shortleaf pine ecology, likely a natural upland community in our part of Brunswick County.  This is within Grove 6 and up against the start of a SMZ and holds a prominent place on a hilltop. I will be easily seen as an example of what can be done.

Grove E – Pollinator meadows

Acres: 2

Forest Type: Not forested.  Early succession, grass and forbs

Species present: Little bluestem, splitbeard bluestem, purple top, bearded beggartick, lanceleaf corepsisis, Indian blanket, partridge pea, evening primrose, black eyes Susan, narrow sunflower, purple coneflower, eastern showy aster, rattlesnake master, Maximillian sunflower

Age: Established 2008, reestablished and replanted 2017

Size:  N/a

Quality: excellent

Trees/acre:  N/a

Growth Rate: excellent.

Recommendations:

Burn when we burn the surrounding woods. Mow once a year absent fire.

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. We have done this and will continue.

 Daylighting

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.

We are doing this with our thinning.

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 (Pollinator habitat)

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

Snags

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.

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, pollinator meadows.

Logging Roads

Soil erosion can be prevented through the careful location and maintenance of logging roads.

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.

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

 

Prepared by: _John Matel_____________________

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