Making Habitat Wisely
Choose Responsibly When Creating Young Forest
Harvesting trees to create young, regrowing forest can be a good way to restore and make young forest. Planting native shrubs can also do the trick, as can mowing shrubs that have gotten too old and straggling, which spurs their root systems to send up thick new growth providing food and cover for wildlife.
It's important to identify areas where we can help wild animals by managing their habitat. It's also important to know where not to create young forest and shrubland.
For example, logging on steep slopes can cause erosion. Cutting trees that cast shade on vernal pools and ephemeral wetlands may cause those important natural habitats to dry up too quickly in springtime, stranding young salamanders and frogs before they've had time to sufficiently develop.
Large blocks of unbroken older woods in areas that already have ample young forest should be carefully evaluated before logging. It may be best to let such woodlands continue to mature and remain as important habitat for the wild creatures that need older forest. Landowners should consider the value of any timber before cutting it. They may decide to manage stands of high-quality hardwoods to produce valuable sawlogs rather than turning them into young forest. (On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with regenerating high-quality hardwood stands using even-age harvest methods, as long as those methods are appropriate to the species on site, as in the cases of red oak and black cherry.)
Keeping All Wildlife in Mind
Responsible managers make sure not to harm the habitats of endangered or threatened species. State wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can advise on whether such wildlife is likely to occur in a given area, and can offer advice on how to plan and integrate different management activities to help all wildlife.
There are many suitable places and ways to make young-forest and shrubland habitat. Projects can be sited on old pastures grown up with poor-quality pines and hardwoods. They can create and expand shrubland buffers along marshes and streams.
Are you a private landowner thinking about making habitat for wildlife of young forest and shrublands? Technical advice and financial incentives are available to ensure the most benefits for animals and the fewest impacts on other important natural resources. For more advice, contact your state wildlife agency or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Partners program.