NWTF Wildlife Biologist and Conservation Field Supervisor Lynn Lewis-Weis is excited, for good reason, about two projects in Georgia that will create woodland savannas. The work will ultimately improve wildlife habitat and provide better hunting opportunities on the Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area, which is a part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and Clarks Hill WMA.
According to Lewis-Weis, the NWTF and its partners have an aggressive game plan to create woodland savannas within the borders of these two public-land hunting areas.
“Both projects involve using a combination of herbicides and prescribed fire to create a more open, park-like understory in a woodland-dominated area,” she said. “By removing some of the understory trees — using the hack-and-squirt method of herbicide application — enables us to reduce competition for sunlight and nutrients. As a result, more wildlife friendly grasses and forbs are allowed to grow and flourish. Wildlife benefit because of an increase in escape, nesting and brood-rearing habitat.”
Creating woodland savannas helps turkeys and boosts many other native plant and wildlife species. For example, additional benefit from the work in north Georgia includes improving habitat for the Georgia aster, a flowering plant that is a candidate for the federal threatened and endangered species list.
Lewis-Weis credits the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest team, especially Fire and National Resources Officer Mike Brod and Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologist Kevin Lowrey, as being excellent partners in this effort.
Another Georgia project, this one focused on creating pine savanna, is helping transform the Clarks Hill WMA. Workers, again, used herbicide to control the understory.
Lewis-Weis pointed out that both projects’ herbicide work was partially paid for through the NWTF Georgia Super Fund Program.