Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

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RexK
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Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by RexK » Sun May 27, 2012 5:19 pm

I live in southeast Kentucky and the 'woods' are and have always been a big part of my life. Its were I spend a great deal of time and I've always appreciated it. But until recently I didn't realize what old growth was and how rare it is. I've always been against logging, especially on my families property, but never realized it had most likely all been logged in the past and is now a secondary forest. At this point, most of my grandfathers 500 acre farm (only about 50 acres cleared) has been sold off and I'm working to save the last remaining block of forest. Its far from untouched, having been subject to one or more high grades in the past 50 years and a fire within the last 20. Still yet, at this point, most of it seems "wild" again and I think there may be a few old trees scattered about on cliff edges or in deep ravines. I'd like to "restore" it as much as possible. I'm not sure what can be done, but I'm sure that removing non-natives and planting a greater diversity of natives would be a start.

I'm curious if anyone here has old growth on their private property or even a second growth forest that they are trying to preserve. I would love to hear about it and pictures would be great. If so, did you realize what you had afterwards or was the purchase intentional? In addition to preserving my family's remaining forest, I think I am going to keep my eyes open for a small piece of timberland in my area with old growth forest, or at least some kind of remnant.

Thanks
Rex

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by Ranger Dan » Tue May 29, 2012 4:05 pm

Rex-

Bless you! Hopefully you will be able to put your land into a conservation easement that will preserve the forest in perpetuity. I, too, am preserving my land. It's 29 acres, mostly wooded (last logged, selectively, in the 1950's), with some trees over a hundred years old and a couple over 40" dbh. I have been watching them grow for close to 50 years, and I have been measuring their girth every year for about 15 years. There are now many tuliptrees over 30", with nice crowns and trunks with wide strips of furrowed bark where the first and second shedding has occurred. I'm witnessing the maturation of these trees into "old growth" character, with more and more massive limbs, pileated woodpecker holes, and hollows where lightning and storms have caused injuries that cause decay and healing into interesting forms. There are many logs on the ground now, and canopy gaps. The recent death of a 36" red oak will bring the first large-diameter one to the forest floor. I've done some very light management to accelerate the growth of the largest trees, by removing some of the understory trees where they form thickets, and by girdling some of the competing canopy trees (primarily Virginia pine, which will die soon of natural causes anyway). Most, if not all of my land was at one time cleared and farmed (though over a hundred years ago), and in places deeply gullied. For many years, cows ate every leaf from the forest floor, and we scrounged all the logs for firewood. Now, 30 years after the cows have gone and we left the logs to lay, the woods are a very different place, with a lush cover of herbaceous plants and limbs high overhead.

One of my passions is native plant conservation, and for years I have done extensive work here to eliminate alien species and introduce native plants. I now have reproducing colonies of now-rare plants that may have lived here prior to the arrival of Europeans, (yellow ladyslipper, ginseng, goldenseal...) and many species that grow well but probably never lived here before (several species of trillium, shooting-stars, wood poppy...). These may some day be invaluable as reserve colonies, isolated from pathogens or other causes that may threaten the existence of plants in their natural ranges. Some of these are threatened and endangered species that I am happy to report are thriving and reproducing.

I've seen the surrounding forest that was my childhood wandering wilderness converted to eroding cow pasture and sterile house lots. I know that soon my island will be the only place in the neighborhood with any plants rarer than a dandelion. I intend to leave my land and house to some organization that would oversee the forest and the plant colonies in perpetuity, but I am not a millionaire, and without a substantial endowment, I know of no suitable willing takers. If anyone has any ideas, I will be happy to know!

TN_Tree_Man
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by TN_Tree_Man » Tue May 29, 2012 6:52 pm

I intend to leave my land and house to some organization that would oversee the forest and the plant colonies in perpetuity, but I am not a millionaire, and without a substantial endowment, I know of no suitable willing takers. If anyone has any ideas, I will be happy to know!
Ranger,

Assuming that you do not have apparent heirs that you would grant an inheritance, you could will your land to your local community to be established as a park. You could stipulate restrictions such as no sports fields and such, or limit future development to subjects of your interest specific to your property.

I know of a family in my hometown that did this and it turned out very nicely.

You asked for an idea...so there you go!

Steve Springer
"One can always identify a dogwood tree by it's bark."

RyanLeClair
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by RyanLeClair » Tue May 29, 2012 9:15 pm

Hi Ranger Dan,

The only group I know of would be The Nature Conservancy...I don't know if that helps. A group of us Ents actually did a little exploring at a Nature Conservancy site in Connecticut called Devil's Den Preserve. It's a ~1,700 acre plot that's left totally to its own devices. The only signs of humans there are trails.

RexK
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by RexK » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:32 pm

Ranger Dan, I've actually been looking into conservation easements and such. Hopefully someday I'll find a good solution. I'm eager to remove the non-native invasive species and introduce some more natives, but I don't know enough about the local ecosystems to start yet. For instance, I've just identified japanese stilt grass in some areas that also have multifloral rose and I believe both of these should be removed. But what about the honeysuckle? I hate this stuff because its all over in certain areas, but is it native? I also don't know how to choose which species to (re)introduce. There's no Umbrella Magnolia on my land, but it is native and I've recently transplanted a few small sprouts into pots and around my house. Hopefully they will live and can be planted in the forest. Another thing that I'm wondering about is how to buffer the forest. It seems like many of the invasive species are light loving and are mostly present around field edges. I've though about planting more Cedar, White Pine (another native which I don't have), Pitch Pine, etc, in order to make a thicker ring around the edge in hopes that it would lower the light and kill out the invasive species. Have you done anything like this?

Thanks
Rex

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edfrank
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by edfrank » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:01 pm

Rex,

The invasives should be removed, but in some cases that is almost impossible to do. For some the best you can hope for is to control them with frequent removals to keep them from overwhelming the native vegetation. Honeysuckles - some species grow but do not overwhelm a site, but still the non-native ones should be removed. There is a nice write-up on them here: http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/research/VMG/bhnysckl.html You can do a search on the internet. Essentially most all of the bush honeysuckles are invasive - particularly the Tartarian Honeysuckey is pretty bad. In Illinois: Bush honeysuckles are easily separated from native honeysuckle species by their stout, erect shrub growth. All native species are "woody twiners" that are vine-like in nature. Native honeysuckle species are grape honeysuckle (Lonicera prolifera), yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera flava), and red honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)." If you do transplant and replace native species, try to do so from sources nearby. I would try to plant everything you think should be there in groups so they can pollinate each other as they reach maturity.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:51 pm

A conservation easement might be the best way to go to ensure (at least in modern historical terms) the preservation of your forest. If you deed it over to any private group (including the Nature Conservancy) the land is theirs to do with as they feel. It could turn out that they would be willing at some point to trade the land for something that they feel is more worthy of preservation. They are sometimes given property just for this reason--for trading away to protect something else.

RexK
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by RexK » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:23 am

I've identified my nemesis as Japanese Honeysuckle. This stuff is ridiculous around here. It won't grow deep in the forest, but around the edge where there is enough sun it is prolific. After a few years it will completely cover a fence row or a small tree under 10 ft.

Rex

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Old Growth on private land.... Does anyone here have it?

Post by Ranger Dan » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:42 am

All good advice. The Nature Conservancy does indeed accept land donations and then sells them for a greater cause of buying up the "last great places". They only keep exceptional, usually very large properties. Yes, Rex, I have planted white pine around part of my property as a screen and buffer. It grows fast and works well at shading the ground to inhibit agressive invasive plants, but they require attention in the early years, such as protection from buck rubbing, and vines.

The honeysuckle Rex refers to I am going to guess is most likely Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), which is the honeysuckle most folks in the South know of as THE honeysuckle (the one we suckled nectar from as kids), and is the only vining honeysuckle you are likely to find in your area which has fragrant white flowers that turn yellow (sometimes with a flush of reddish color on the back sides). It seems you can find it on nearly every acre of land in the lowland parts of the East. As woods become shadier, it becomes weaker and native plants coexist with it, though they do better without its competition.

It's easy to pull up weak honeysuckle plants that languish in the shade, but where it is vigorous you'll need to use herbucide. I recommend one containing Triclopyr, and to stay away from ones containing 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The former is not mutagenic or persistent in the environment, and poses little risk to human health (other than potential eye damage if you get it in your eyes, so wear protective eye wear). These do not kill grasses and sedges, but kill almost all broadleaved plants. One research project found Triclopyr to be ineffective in killing one species of bush honeysuckle, but others reported success with it when application was properly timed and applied. (I have had partial success with it on Lonicera fragrantissima, where it has become invasive where I work, the Claytor Nature Study Center). You can find a lot of information by searching for "herbicide honeysuckle".

Of course, once you get rid of the honeysuckle, bird-planted seeds of it and other nasties will come up, so it will be an ongoing project. Planting natives that shade the ground will help, as you know. Do not fall for the nurseryman's advice that ground covers will solve your problems forever. Weeds will come up in any ground cover, and then you'll have a real problem killing only the weeds. Plant trees and shrubs that form a canopy over the ground, so you can continue to spray under them until you finally get the invasives under control. Avoid plants that form multi-stemmed colonies or have spreading habits. You'll have a hell of a time spraying only the weeds under them. Mulching helps tremendously in reducing seed germination, but will not smother plants such as honeysuckle, ivy or Bermudagrass.

Stiltgrass...I have been attempting to keep it at bay on part of my property for years, with little success. A few tiny patches have disappeared after years of attempts, but if you miss a single plant, you have seeds that may live for 7 years or more. I find new patches every year. The seeds are carried on deer hooves, tires and boots. The floodplains are hopeless...each flood brings new seeds. Biological control hopefully will one day appear. There are selective herbicides that kill only grasses and sedges, and burning in late summer just before seed formation has worked well. I have seen native plants coexisting with it, even annual and biennial plants such as Phacelias which must re-establish new plants from seed every year. So I don't agree with the doomsayers who say that stiltgrass will spell the end to our native herbaceous plants.

Multiflora rose...I have worked on it a lot and it is not difficult to kill. I use Pathfinder ( a Triclopyr product in a vegetable oil base) to paint on the trunks of many species of woody plants, and it kills almost everything we've tried. Also cutting and painting the stumps with Glyphosate (Round-Up is one product) cut 50% with water (some say less is effective) has worked well for me, any time of year. Timing with best chances of success using these methods is June- Oct. Again, you can find a lot of research work and methods with an online search. Rose rosette virus, carried by aphids, is wiping out far more Rosa multiflora than all my efforts. It appeared about 3 years ago, and now many places in the woods at work that were choked and impenetrable are full of dead and weakened bushes.

We've also done a lot of work on Ailanthus (Paradise or Tree-of-Heaven), and this year I am happy to report that it is now reduced to a few sprouts and a few missed trees, on 470 acres that was heavily infested in many parts. There has been some trial-and-error, but we have a system that works for us, and I will be happy to share.

Dan

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