Project began 2018
The Susquehannock State Forest currently maintains 200 acres in herbaceous openings throughout the district. Of these 200 acres, 60 acres lie in southeastern Potter County. In an area where large contiguous tracts of forest land dominate the landscape, utilization of existing pipeline right-of-way’s have provided the main means of growing our herbaceous opening program. These openings are planted in various native and non-native annual and perennial seed mixes. Wild turkey, white-tailed deer, elk, ruffed grouse, woodcock, cottontail rabbits, black bear and a variety of other wildlife species utilize these herbaceous openings.
Establishing and maintaining these openings require cooperative efforts from a variety of contributors. Those that currently contribute to the program include the PA Game Commission, National Wild Turkey Federation, Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Keystone Elk Alliance, National Fuel, Dominion Gas and the Cross Fork Sportsmen’s Club. DCNR and the PGC Food and Cover Crew provide the labor involved in establishing and maintaining the openings.
In 2016 the district delineated approximately 2,750 acres in the Greenlick Station area as a woodcock and grouse management area. Greenlick Station is located approximately 5 miles northeast of Cross Fork, in southern Potter County. Both woodcock and grouse are species of conservation concern and rely heavily on early successional habitats. The commitment to keeping early successional habitats within the management area is vital to its success. Annual woodcock and grouse population surveys are done in this area to both monitor population trends and gauge the response to the habitat work being done. In addition to grouse and woodcock, many other wildlife species rely on early successional habitats. These young forests provide both food and cover for species such as eastern cottontail, white-tailed deer, elk, bear, snowshoe hares and various song bird species.
This area also contains a high component of aspen at various age-classes. Eight hundred and eight acres are currently delineated as aspen stands in the Greenlick Management Area and many other stands contain aspen as a lesser component. Aspen is a short-lived pioneer species that regenerates by root suckering. Due to aspen’s potential for high stem densities and their foraging desirability to grouse, aspen stand management will be a key component to the success of the management area. It’s important that we maintain diverse age-classes of both aspen and hardwood stands with consideration to their spatial arrangements within the management area. Working cooperatively with the local PA Game Commission Food and Cover Crew, we annually cut or regenerate approximately 50 acres of 30-50 yr. old aspen.
Due to the gas storage field and location of the station, pipeline right-of-way’s and well locations of various sizes are found throughout the management area. These forest openings provide foraging habitats for both woodcock and grouse and woodcock singing grounds. Management of these openings also benefits many other wildlife species such as elk, white-tailed deer, rabbits, turkey, and black bear.
Within the Greenlick Station Woodcock and Grouse Management Area there have been 3 regeneration harvests that for various reasons have not successfully regenerated. All three are small in size (3 – 10 acres), which may have contributed to the outcome. This proposal would look to contract plant a number of native tree and shrub species of high importance to woodcock and grouse. With the investment in the seedlings and the relative small acreages of the planting areas, a woven wire fence has also been proposed to protect the seedlings from herbivory until they become established above browsing height.
The Greenlick compartment is 2,750 acres with active forest management occurring throughout the system. Aspen stands comprise 808 acres of the unit. Most of the surrounding mature forest contains large aspen as a varying component. This compartment represents high potential as a grouse production areas. The mix of aspen, pin cherry, grape, oak represents high-value winter foods. The robust and young aspen should respond well to regeneration treatment, if herbivory damage is discouraged by leaving abundant slash in treated stands. Occasionally fences may be required to protect both tree and shrub regeneration following a cut and/or planting from deer and elk browsing.
The stand for which funding is being requested is 16 acres in size, approximately 35 years old and contains a diverse mix of tree and shrub species. The stand is typed as aspen but the aspen component is scattered and patchy. Black cherry, pin cherry, red oak, white oak, beech, red maple, hawthorn, apple and witch hazel comprise most of the remaining overstory. The understory is mainly fern and beech brush with scattered honeysuckle and autumn olive. Most of the black cherry is of poor quality and/or contains black knot.
The goal of the herbicide application will be to focus the spray on the fern, beech brush and invasive species. This herbicide application will give us window of opportunity to regenerate the stand with both natural regeneration from a non-commercial overstory cut and seedling planting. The herbicide application will be done by hand application. This will allow the applicators to focus the herbicide on the non-desirable species and protect the desirables. A fence will be installed to further protect stand development. The overall goal of the project will be to convert an understocked stand with poor understory conditions into a stand with a higher component of aspen, diverse mix of hard and soft mast producing trees and a diverse native shrub component.
- Control the non-desirable understory species with the herbicide application,
- Following the herbicide, plant the site with a diverse mix of native tree and shrub species. The species will include aspen, gray dogwood, silky dogwood, serviceberry, crabapple, and hawthorn. These seedlings and the planting of the seedlings will be funded by Shell and the Cross Fork Sportsmen’s Club.
- Susquehannock State Forest Staff will regenerate the site with a non-commercial timber harvest. The staff will cut most of the overstory, leaving a few desirable species such as hawthorn, apple, oak and any conifers.
- Protection and development of the seedlings will be aided by the fence. The fence will be installed prior to the planting of the seedlings. The fence will be funded by Shell.
This Project will be supported by multiple partners including Ruffed Grouse Society, DCNR, Shell and Cross Fork Sportsmen’s Club. Funding in the sum of $1,700 will be requested through the Ruffed Grouse Society Drummer Fund application process. Shell is providing $32,100 to fund this project.
- Hand-felling trees to regenerate the stand will be funded and conducted by DCNR.
- Project layout and flagging will be administered by DCNR
- Seedling purchase, seedling planting and fencing will be funded by Cross Fork Sportsmen’s club.