October 23, 20XX

Mr. & Mrs. Landowner
Post Office Box x
Orange, VA 22960

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Landowner:

Your property has many potential stewardship opportunities. Your strong concern for the environment, your interest in conservation, and your desire to carry out stewardship activities is to be commended. In view of this, I'm pleased to provide you this Forest Stewardship Management Plan.

The information that follows includes two components. The first section is a customized plan that describes your property and includes management options and specific recommendations. It matches your goals with the potential of your land. The remainder is reference material for your general use. This information also will assist you with the specific decisions needed to carry out the recommendations.

One of the first management opportunities I feel you could undertake would be to develop field borders and travel corridors for Parcel A. Create snags and some harvesting in Parcel B.

Planning for a new forest stand needs to begin before you harvest timber. I will be glad to work with you in managing your forest land. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Sincerely,

Pat Forester

Area Forester

PF/sks

Forest Stewardship Plan for
Mr. & Mrs. Landowner

Introduction

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan covers the examination of approximately

202 acres of forestland in Orange County. Management recommendations are given below. Boundaries and acres are only estimates derived from aerial photographs. The tract map is located in the plastic folder.

The tract lies on gently rolling terrain with moderate northwest slopes adjacent to the drainage areas. Parcel A and D appear to have been in agricultural use prior to 1900. These parcels regenerated with pine which were harvested in the early 1950s. These two parcels now support hardwood stands. The entire woodland has been selectively harvested several times from the 1950s to the 1970s. These partial cuts have resulted in lower quality trees being over represented throughout the woodland. Yellow poplar has also become a dominant species throughout much of the woodland.

The predominant soil type is Davidson. This soil type is capable of producing very good quality hardwoods in a relatively short period of time.

Overall wildlife habitat and forest health could be improved in the woodland by rehabilitating the hardwood areas that have been highgraded in past selective cuts. Currently there is little oak regeneration in the understory of these stands. Maintenance burning and group selection harvesting would return the forestland to a more natural condition.

No endangered species of plants or animals were noted on the tract. There was one Trillium noted in Parcel E on the southern side of the tract. Also of interest was the presence of striped maple in Parcel E. Striped maple generally grows in elevations above 2000 feet. The property is adjacent to large acreages of unbroken forestland which will contribute significantly to achieving enhanced wildlife habitat.

Forest Stewardship Management Plan

Landowner: Mr. & Mrs. Landowner
Post Office Box X
Orange, VA 22960

Telephone: Home: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Forested acres: 202

Total acres: 300

Location: Approximately three miles northeast of Orange on the east side of Route 615.

Prepared by: S. Woods, Forester

This Forest Stewardship Management Plan was designed to help guide the management activities of the natural resources on your property for the next ten years. The plan is based on your goals in harmony with the environment around you. Project recommendations are for your consideration.

The Goals You identified For Managing The Property Are:

  1. Soil and Water Conservation.
  2. Improvement of wildlife habitat.
  3. Protect rare, unique natural areas.
  4. Forest stand management.

DESCRIPTIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS OF PARCELS:

PARCEL A

Acres: 21

Forest Type: Mixed hardwood- Red and white oaks comprise 65% of the total trees.

Species Present: Ailanthus, American sycamore, paulownia, eastern red cedar, hackberry, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, mockernut hickory, white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, green ash, mulberry, sassafras, black cherry, persimmon, holly, black locust, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: 20 - 60 years

Size: Large pole to sawtimber (10 to 18 inches in diameter)

Quality: Fair to good

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Fair to good

Recommendations:

The vegetative nature of this parcel provides benefits to wildlife due to the diversity of trees and shrubs including spicebush, mulberry, cherry, honeysuckle, dogwood, and various wild berries. The wide distribution of the different sections of this parcel help to diversify the overall habitat types and provide cover throughout the property instead of just one location. Based on the current condition of the parcel, I would recommend the following:

  • Create travel corridors (hedgerows) between this parcel and the larger wooded areas (see Hedgerows).
  • Create field borders on this parcel (see Field Borders).
  • Periodically perform maintenance burns to enhance the parcel’s value for wildlife.
  • Create two to three snags per acre by girdling poor quality trees greater than 18 inches in diameter.

PARCEL B

Acres: 74

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods – Yellow poplar, black oak, and mockernut hickory comprise 70% of the trees.

Species Present: Yellow poplar, sassafras, blackgum, scattered Virginia pine, northern red oak, black oak, white oak, scarlet oak, ailanthus, paulownia, red maple, and mockernut hickory.

Age: 34 to 80 years

Size: Large pole to sawtimber (14 to 20 inches in diameter)

Quality: Fair

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Good to excellent

Recommendations:

This parcel was high-graded (best trees removed) periodically between 1950 and 1979. The remaining trees grew under significant competition from the more dominant trees which were removed. These residual trees that remain generally are not able to respond to the increased growing space and tend to grow very little and develop branches low on the tree which degrades quality. Also, since the trees are growing with low vigor, their benefit to wildlife is reduced as the quantity and quality of acorn production is not as good as it was with the dominant trees that were removed. The percentage of blackgum and hickory present in the parcel is higher than would naturally occur in this forest type. Understory reproduction of viable oaks is essentially non-existent. Based on the current condition of the parcel, I would recommend the following:

  • To improve the overall health of the forest, wildlife habitat, and to increase the oak component of the parcel, I would recommend harvesting in the parcel by group selection method. Oak regeneration will need to be established prior to harvesting.
  • This harvesting method entails making small clearcuts (½ to 2 acres) within a timber stand at regular intervals. This method eliminates the dramatic visual impact of clearcutting while providing suitable light conditions to reproduce shade-intolerant species such as oak.
  • Group selection cuts provide pockets of young vegetation in the forest that improve wildlife habitat by increasing the diversity of plant species and age groups.

PARCEL C

Acres: 54

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods – Yellow poplar comprises 75% ofthe total trees.

Species Present: Yellow poplar, northern red oak, chestnut oak, mockernut hickory, black locust, white oak, black oak, blackgum, and red maple.

Age: 45 to 85 years

Size: Pole to sawtimber (8 to 18 inches in diameter)

Quality: Good to excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Excellent

Recommendations:

This parcel was essentially harvested by the clearcut method in 1952 and 1971. At that time the parcel was primarily stocked with shortleaf pine and scattered oaks.

Following the 1952 harvest, yellow poplar developed rapidly and now dominates most of the parcel. Based on the current condition of the parcel, I would recommend the following:

  • An improvement cut at this time with the primary emphasis on thinning the yellow poplar would be beneficial in improving the site for wildlife by increasing understory vegetation. A thinning at this point would also allow oak regeneration to become established in the understory. The site is capable of growing very good quality oak which can only be established if the forest floor receives sunlight. A thinning should concentrate on removing co-dominant trees, not the larger dominant trees.
  • Understory burning should also be considered in this parcel prior to any harvesting to reduce the amount of yellow poplar seed on the forest floor. Reduction of the yellow seed would give oaks a better chance at developing in the parcel.

PARCEL D

Acres: 36

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods – Yellow poplar and northern red comprise 60% of the trees.

Species Present: Yellow poplar, northern red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, mockernut hickory, black oak, blackgum, ash, and red maple.

Age: 40 to 80 years

Size: Large pole to sawtimber (10 to 18 inches in diameter)

Quality: Good to excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Good to excellent

Recommendations:

This parcel is similar to Parcel C as it was heavily cutover in 1952, 1964, and 1971. Based on the current conditions of the parcel, I would recommend the following:

  • An improvement cut with the emphasis on thinning out trees smaller than 18 inches in diameter would be beneficial for the reasons stated for Parcel C.

PARCEL E

Acres: 17

Forest Type: Mixed hardwoods - streamside management zone. Yellow poplar, northern red oak, and American Sycamore comprise 85% of the trees.

Species Present: Black walnut, paw-paw, yellow poplar, northern red oak, paulownia, American sycamore, black locust, ironwood, musclewood, white oak, stripped maple, red maple, redbud, blackgum, and hickory.

Age: 40 to 80 years

Size: Pole to sawtimber (6 to 20 inches in diameter)

Quality: Good to excellent

Trees/acre: Adequately stocked

Growth Rate: Good to excellent

Recommendations:

Forested drainages and streams are highly productive and diverse areas that provide important benefits for maintaining water quality and providing habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species. The trees and shrubs filter sediment and absorb pollutants from over land water run off while the diverse variety of plants and habitats in riparian areas results in a greater diversity of wildlife. Based on the current condition of the parcel, I would recommend the following:

  • Limit any future timber harvesting in this parcel so that no more than 50% of the crown cover is removed at any one time. Exclude all heavy equipment from this area.
  • Girdle (kill) approximately 20 trees greater than 16 inches in diameter to provide habitat for cavity nesting birds. The tree species in this area best suited for developing cavities are American sycamore, black walnut, yellow poplar or ash. The trees selected should be of poor quality and have large branches within 50 feet of the ground. Space snags approximately 250 feet apart. Such trees provide cover and nesting sites for cavity dwelling wildlife species such as raccoons, bats, flying squirrels, snakes, owls, woodpeckers, bluebirds (near open areas), and wrens, to name but a few.
  • Since a partial cut will result mainly in the better trees cut, I would recommend an improvement cut following a harvest. The purpose of the improvement cut is to improve stand composition and quality by removing, felling or girdling trees of undesirable species, form or condition. In other words, the elimination of bad trees to favor the good trees. The trees to be removed would include: (1) inferior species such as red maple; (2) crooked, leaning, extremely limy, and (3) trees seriously injured by disease or insect infestations. The objective is to eliminate poor trees where they interfere with the growth of better trees. The poor trees can be felled and left in the woods, utilized for firewood or girdled and left standing to provide den trees for wildlife.
  • The thinning out of low quality, low vigor trees benefits wildlife by increasing the growth rate of desirable trees, which leads to greater mast production. The quality of the mast generally improves as well. Thinning also allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor which will stimulate the growth of understory plants that are important for food and cover.
  • Cover could be improved by creating shelters from quality trees. Four or five poor quality trees per acre may be felled, their boles cut into five foot lengths, stacked log cabin style, and then covered with the branches to form enclosures. These enclosures will provide odd cover for small mammals and birds.

Wildlife Recommendations

Field Borders

Field borders should be established along woodland edges, fencerows and major drainages wherever grazing is not practiced or planned. Field borders create vegetative transition zones between cover types. Such zones are much more attractive to wildlife than the abrupt change that often occurs, for example, between field and forest. Field borders take up relatively little in total acreage. Even when located along agricultural field edges, if borders adjoining woodland, little productivity is lost since typically crop yield is low near forest edges. Borders should consist primarily of woody plants of low to intermediate height. They should extend, in depth, 20 to 40 feet from the field edge, depending on the practice being used in their establishment. Both depth and density of field borders must be sufficient enough to make animals feel secure or they will receive little use.

There are several ways to establish field borders. Natural borders can be created by "daylighting" woodland edges or by allowing natural plant succession to encroach into the edge of existing fields or other openings. Shrub plantings are also used in the establishment of borders.

Daylighting consists of cutting most, of not all, trees in a specified area to encourage and accelerate the growing and non-shade tolerant plants. Existing shrubs, vines and herbaceous (non-woody) plants should be left undisturbed to the extent possible. Woodland edges should be daylighted to a depth of 40 feet, recognizing that remaining trees will quickly reach out to shade the opening. Field borders established by daylighting have the advantage of taking no acreage from existing open land.

Where the loss of open land is not a major concern, a natural border can also be created by allowing woody plants to invade and encroach into existing open edges. "Encroachment" borders, like those daylighted, should be wide, at least 30 feet. Where grass is well established, this should be destroyed by plowing or by the use of a herbicide. This will speed up the invasion of the more desirable "border plants." The establishment of field borders using this practice requires the least expense and labor.

If natural borders seem undesirable (perhaps from an aesthetic standpoint); the planting of shrubs is an option frequently used. Additionally, with the use of these, the results are more reliable and, in the long run, maintenance will be less (natural borders will be invaded with trees that should be cut back periodically). The transition from field to tree line should be gradual in height. Here, shrub plantings also have an advantage. By proper selection and arrangement of shrub varieties, the border can be a stair step from field to treetop. Taller growing shrubs, such as Mountain Ash should be placed next to the woods. Lower growing varieties, such as the shrub dogwoods or bi-color (VA-70) lespedeza should be placed against the taller varieties. The total depth of a shrub border should be at least 20 feet.

The final touch to any border is the establishment of a herbaceous strip along the open side. These may not be necessary, if the border joins an annually tilled or recently fallowed field. If not, a strip 10 to 20 feet wide parallel to and adjoining the border should be plowed or disked. This can remain fallow for up to two or three years, allowing annual native plants to grow back many of which provide excellent wildlife food and cover. Or, if desired, these strips can be seeded using one of the warm-season grasses, white clover, Korean or Kobe lespedeza, or one of the locally well suited agricultural grains.

Borders need not completely rim every field or fringe every wood line. Yet, they should be employed to the greatest extent possible. Good field borders provide food, cover, and security. Perhaps equally important, they provide a most favorable "edge," a critical component in the habitat chosen by most wildlife.

Open Fields

Probably the best practice to enhance open fields for wildlife is the establishment of field borders. These have been described. Other wildlife practices on open land include: in crop fields; allow some standing crop to remain during harvest, usually along field edges and drainages; allow crop residue and other vegetation to remain on the field as long as possible after harvest. On grassland; periodically break the sod along field edges, drainages, and hedgerows by plowing or disking 20 feet wide. These strips can be allowed to grow back naturally, redisking every three to four years or seed with Korean lespedeza, soybeans, sorghum, buckwheat, or other species attractive to wildlife. Seeding rates and times to plant can be supplied by local seed suppliers or Extension Agent.

Hedgerows

Parcels A & H (Proposed HP)

The options and procedures for establishing hedgerows are nearly identical to those for field borders. The major difference is that hedgerows should have a shrub/tree center and herbaceous strips on both sides. If planted, a good center is two rows of pines or cedars and two or three rows of shrub lespedeza. Hedgerows are an important component of any property where wildlife is a primary objective.

Thinning

Parcel C & D:

Thinning in these parcels would increase their ecological value to wildlife is thinning. Thinning allows sunlight to reach the forest floor which stimulates the growth of forbs, legumes, and other herbaceous material. Tree tops left on the forest floor provide temporary cover and nesting places. Thinning can also increase mast production of healthy oaks and hickories.

Snags

All Parcels:

Snags, dead or deteriorating trees, are an important habitat component in forests for wildlife. The availability of snags on forest lands affects the abundance, diversity and species richness of cavity nesting birds and mammals. Two to four snags per acre should be maintained in the forest. Such trees provide forage, cover, perches, and nesting sites for wildlife species such as raccoons, bats, flying squirrels, snakes, owls, woodpeckers, bluebirds (near open areas), and wrens, to name but a few. When snags are lacking in a forest, they can be created by girdling trees of poor quality or health.

Forest Openings

Parcels A & B:

These areas would benefit from the development of forest openings to encourage the development of low growing plants. Approximately twenty one-half acre openings should be created by cutting all the trees in these areas. The area can then be disked and allowed to regenerate naturally in a wide variety of grasses, shrubs, and vines. These areas can then be bush-hogged and disked on a three year rotation to maintain the brushy nature of the areas. As recommended, disking to expose bare soil and allowing native vegetation to take over is excellent. This practice can be applied to field edges, right-of-way and the edge of hedgerows. Other options, but more costly, include seeding disked sites with a perennial mix of orchardgrass and clover, or with an annual such as Korean lespedeza, buckwheat, soybeans, grain sorghum or other species that is attractive to wildlife.

Ponds

The pond on the northern end of the tract maybe suitable for a wood duck box. Boxes can be on poles or attached to trees. All boxes should have predator guards and duckling ladders in place. Boxes should be hung level or leaning slightly forward. If boxes lean back it makes it harder for ducklings to climb out. Nest box entrances should face north or northwest to protect the nest from prevailing southeast weather patterns during the nesting season. Structures should be inspected annually in February. During inspections, squirrel or old songbird nests should be removed from boxes and wood shavings or chips should be added as needed (do not use sawdust). During inspection you can spray Lysol on the interior of the box to help keep ants and bees from making their nests in the structures. Nest boxes might not be used in the first couple of years, until natural cavities in the area are all occupied. As the wood duck population grows, birds will be forced to look for new nesting sites such as your boxes. Provide goose nesting structures such as floating platforms or tubs attached to trees or posts. Ponds or lakes in this case, will be used as reproductive sites for amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, feeding sites for raccoons, insect eating songbirds, and as watering holes by deer and other mammals.

Power Line Right-Of-Way

To provide additional food and cover VA-70 lespedeza can be planted adjacent to the woods along the power line right-of-way. Planting three rows along each side of the right-of-way spaced 6 feet apart would be beneficial. Bobwhite quail, rabbits, deer and numerous songbirds utilize VA-70 shrub lespedeza. This area could also be planted in clover or orchard grass which would be very beneficial.

Borders

Another simple and inexpensive practice that can be used along the powerline right-of-way area are border cuttings along the edge of the woodland. Border cuts are accomplished by removing all trees for 20 ft. back into the woods from the pine edge. Each year you will cut a 100 - 150 foot length of the woods edge. Felled trees can be used as firewood or left as protective cover from aerial predators or bad weather. Increases in sunlight will promote shrub and herbaceous vegetation that provide excellent nesting cover for song birds, browse for deer and rabbit, and protective cover for wildlife to travel through.

Prescribed Burning

Periodic burning in Parcel A would benefit wildlife by thinning the understory vegetation and stimulating fruit and seed production of shrubs and vines. Burning for this purpose is best done in February.

Woody Cover

Cover could be improved by creating shelters from low quality trees. Four or five poor quality trees per acre may be felled, their boles cut into five foot lengths, stacked log cabin style, and then covered with the branches to form enclosures. These enclosures will provide good cover for small mammals and birds. Honeysuckle can be planted around these shelters to provide additional cover and a source of food.

Cover for small mammals and birds can also be established by felling trees of poor quality allowing the butts to remain attached to the stump. The tree will continue to live and provide good cover.

Logging Roads

Soil erosion can be prevented through the careful location and maintenance of logging roads. Roads and skid trails should be on high ground and at least 100 feet from streams. They should follow the natural contour as much as possible. Broad based dips should be installed to move water off the road and into the forest where it can be absorbed. When streams must be crossed, they should be crossed at right angles.

Broad base dips and drainage ditches should be placed 20 feet apart on steep slopes and 50 feet apart on medium slopes. Loading areas should be seeded in game food after harvest. When logging is complete, ruts and gullies should be filled and the road should be out-sloped slightly. Closing of roads to unauthorized traffic will prevent damage to newly sown grass or wildlife food. More information is available in the enclosed brochure.

Skid trails, haul roads, and log decks should be seeded with a mix of orchardgrass and ladino clover.

Fire

Protection of this property from wildfire is essential. Wildfire rapidly destroys valuable timber, wildlife, and property. From February 15 through April 30, open fires are not permitted with 300 feet of woodland or other flammable material between midnight and 4 p.m. The Chief Forest Warden for Orange County is [name].

Prepared by: ______________________________

S. Woods, Area Forester
Virginia Department of Forestry

/sks

Suggested Schedule of Management Activities

Year Parcel Activity
2000 A Travel Corridors
2000 B Group Selection
2001 A Forest Openings
2001 A Understory Burning
2002 Open Fields Establish Borders
2002 C Thinning (improvement cut)
2003 D Thinning (improvement cut)
2003 E Create Snags
2004 A Create Snags
2004 B Group Selection
2005 C Understory Burning
2005 A Understory Burning

This schedule may need to be adjusted depending on financial needs, timber markets, timing of actual harvest, and availability of contractors.

Stewardship Plan (map)