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Forest Restoration

The Foundation has embarked upon one of its most aggressive conservation projects in years, with an approach called Dynamic Forest Restoration (DFR).

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In essence, the goal of the DFR approach is to recreate natural patterns of forest development, by restoring declining species to improve overall forest diversity and health.

Seven forest stands that are in decline within the Buck Hill Creek watershed have been targeted for DFR over the coming years, encompassing more than 350 acres on both Foundation and BHF Company land. 

First on the list of the targeted DFR stands is 60 acres near Shaffer’s Knob, which is one of the highest points in our watershed and a favorite destination for cross-country skiers.

The Problem on Shaffer's Knob

After being subjected to several timber harvests over the past 60 years, natural forest regeneration has not occurred in the Shaffer’s Knob stand. The result is now an unhealthy matrix of dying beech, fern filled gaps and patches of (largely) poor quality seed trees.

The American beech trees that dominate this stand are succumbing to beech bark disease. In distress, these trees often respond by producing numerous root sprouts (aka “beech brush”) that crowd-out and shade the forest floor, drastically slowing natural stand progression and reducing tree species diversity. To make matters worse, these sprouts are subject to the same demise as their parent tree and will never mature to produce nesting places for birds or nuts for mammals. Left unchecked, the beech brush will continue to take over Shaffer's Knob, further reducing its value as a wildlife habitat.

Restoring a Wildlife Habitat

Our Foundation was recently awarded a matching grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help pay for the DFR work on Shaffer’s Knob. This grant was obtained with help from Josh Flad, who is a certified forester and arborist. 

Josh has begun working side-by-side with Ranger Joe Lear and John Styk on the first phase of beech brush control with herbicide. The second phase will involve mowing down portions of the dead brush.

Once cleared, we’ll largely count on the residual desirable tree stock to provide the seedlings for the next forest. To increase species diversity, we will also consider planting seedlings on select sites where no quality overstory seed trees are present and soil conditions are favorable.

As you might imagine, this is a multi-year process, but with perseverance and your support, a thriving wildlife habit will be restored.

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