The NWTF and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently completed a collaborative post oak savanna restoration project on the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area, a nearly 11,000-acre WMA purchased using Pittman-Robertson funds, in northwest Anderson County, Texas.
Post oak savanna habitats in Texas are a dwindling ecoregion found in the eastern part of the state and are comprised of thick grasses and forbes interspersed with oak species, making great forage and brood habitat for wild turkeys.
The project began in 2015 on a 2,000-acre section of the WMA with the removal of undesirable upland hardwood species. This reduction of the basal area (density of trees) through logging efforts allowed more sunlight to reach the forest floor, returning the post oak savanna ecoregion back to a more natural state and promoting beneficial habitat for wild turkeys and countless other wildlife.
The project also sold the marketable timber for more than $137,000, funds the NWTF held in a stewardship contract to be used for on-the-ground habitat management work that will maintain post oak savanna restoration efforts.
“We used those funds to do service work on the WMA by creating 3.4 miles of 75-foot-wide fire lines, conducting an herbicide treatment on 1,661 acres and promoting the use of prescribed burning,” said Annie Farrell, NWTF district biologist.
The project’s success serves as an example of what shared stewardship can accomplish in some of Texas’ most struggling habitats.
“The NWTF has helped facilitate multiple wild turkey releases on the Gus Engeling WMA, and several NWTF chapters have held numerous wildlife field days for you there, too,” Farrell said. “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to use the WMA as a demonstration area for post oak savanna restoration.”