Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Woodlot Report Part 1: Forest Health

I am splitting up my recent observations and tasks into multiple posts. Today, I will cover the the health of the trees and the seedlings I planted. I suspected this spring that several more trees would die from the high water in the pond. The water was still in the forest and several cedars, oaks, and hickories had succumbed to the flooding. A few cedars I thought were in danger made it through and should not be in danger. The previous owner's modifications to the pond in 2006 must have affected the water level, and the addition of beaver trying to raise it over the last couple of years has raised it even further. There is hardly any sign of terrestrial plants where there were many when we purchased it. The flooding backs into previously forested areas the entire year, except maybe drought years, where the trees will continue to die unless I make changes to the pond. The new wetland areas are nice and I believe I will keep some for diversity and the fish. I am going to continue planting flood tolerant trees where the forest is continueing to die off. Bald cypress is doing well where I planted them 18 months ago. A growth rate of 4-5 feet in that time seems excellent to me. The photo is an example of those planted, albeit not the straightest but the driest to get to. I believe I will mix in some tupelo and sycamore in the next planting. I also planted mayhaw trees at the same time. Those have been flooded to the point I cannot spot any and are probably dead. I hope a few survived. Cottonwood was this years planting near the far north end of the dam. I found a nice series of mud puddles along my planting path and no sign of the cuttings. They should have been moist enough and were growing well earlier this year. I believe the hogs pound their roots to be a tasty treat. The entire area I planted was to wet to inspect, but at least 3/4 of them appear to have been eaten or killed. A few more of the oaks on the fringes of the pond have died since this spring as well. I had time to salvage the cedars, and it looks like I may be able to salvage a few of the oaks. The cutting and utilization of these trees will be part 2 of this series. Part 3 will be about the pond and its management.

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