National Forest in South Carolina Plant Hardwoods for Diversity
In the face of devastation, forest and wildlife managers in South Carolina rose to prevent catastrophe, and improve the diversity and beauty of Sumter National Forest.
In honor of their efforts, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recognized the Long Cane Ranger District for their partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation to plant hardwoods on the national forest.
The goal of the partnership was to restore areas that had been infested by the Southern Pine Beetle and cleared to prevent the beetles from spreading and destroying the entire forest. Over 700 locations were identified as infested by the pine beetle on Sumter National Forest. The Long Cane District's Silviculturist, Dell Frost determined that some of the stands attacked by the beetle were poorly drained heavy clay soils that increased the susceptibility of pines growing in those areas.
"After timber salvage operations, we took a closer look at what we could do differently to prevent this from occurring again, given the magnitude of it. We knew that some areas were better suited for hardwoods Frost said. "We decided to let some areas that had an available seed source or a large number of advanced regenerating hardmast (acorn producing) hardwoods regenerate naturally. Planting hardwoods in some of the areas did not occur to us, until the NWTF jumped in. This was a totally different mindset, because normally we only plant pine"
The NWTF contributed $10,000 from its Hardwood Initiative program to the Long Cane District for ground recovery and tree purchases to increase the diversity of Sumter.
"Pine forests have taken over a large part of the South," said Luke Lewis, NWTF regional biologist for South Carolina. "These forests are great for the southern economy, but wildlife benefit best from a mixture of pines, hardwoods and forest openings."
One opening on the 120,000-acre district has been completely planted with white oak and water oak trees for their resiliency and acorn production, with work on four additional openings planned for 2004.
The southern region Partnership award is given to a USFS district that initiates a partnership with a group and realizes the potential of the partnership for the benefit of USFS land.
Plans are continuing on Plant for the Future on Sumter National Forest. To learn more about the Sumter project, the NWTF's Hardwood Initiative and all things related to wild turkeys, call 1-800-THE-NWTF.