Treatments proposed to maintain forest habitatsPublished 9:27am Monday, June 20, 2011
PEDRO — Wayne National Forest is proposing prescribed burns and mechanical treatment to maintain habitats in their current states in 2,600 acres of forest in Athens, Marietta and Ironton.
The maintenance of the habitats benefit plant species and wildlife, including wild turkeys, American woodcocks, black bears, white-tailed deer, butterflies and birds, according to a press release from the Wayne National Forest.
Steve Blatt, forest biologist, said in addition to the scheduled burns, they would be mowing with a brush mower on certain areas and using a chainsaw to cut some of the saplings.
“We are trying to maintain that opening in its current state and keep it from moving into its early successional forest state,” Blatt said. He added that the same area wouldn’t have a burn and receive mechanical treatment in the same year.
Blatt added that this sort of process is already being done, but that additional recommendations have been made to expand the program.
The cost of the project varies anywhere from $50 to $150 per acre.
“Some of it depends on how much treatment is necessary, how far along the opening has gone through the successional stage. It if it is really dense with a lot of small trees and such, it needs more work,” Blatt said. He added that the mechanical treatments are generally more expensive than the burns
“We are getting some help with some of the funding for the project,” Blatt said, including some funding from the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the National Forest Foundation, among others.
Right now, the project is taking public comments, allowing people to share their support or concerns over the proposed plan through June 27. More information on the project can be found on the Wayne National Forest’s website.
“We view this as a beneficial project for wildlife species,” Blatt said. “The one thing this project does is maintain those openings throughout the landscape, providing a diversity of wildlife throughout the forest.”