Hardwood mulching in the Upper Hillsborough Wildlife Management Area of central Florida provides ideal habitat for Osceola turkeys and other wildlife.
Mulching hardwoods followed by prescribed fire allows increased sunlight to reach the ground that promotes grasses and weeds in the understory, which benefits wildlife.
“Mulching opens up the understory and changes the vertical structure of vegetation, making the area more accessible to wild turkeys,” said David Nicholson, NWTF district biologist. “Turkeys can then move through the area unimpeded and better detect predators.”
“Seeds, fruits and new plant growth are important forage for wild turkeys. The more open, grassy understory will also support a higher insect population that is an important high protein food source for growing Osceola poults.”
The project was possible through the Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program, a combined effort between the NWTF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Forest Service.
“This is a partnership program where funding is pooled between FWC, NWTF and FFS to primarily fund habitat management projects designed to improve wild turkey habitat on public lands throughout Florida,” Nicholson said.
The Wild Turkey Cost-Share Program provided $15,000 in funding and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the organization that owns and manages the property, contributed an additional $15,000.
— David Gladkowski