Turning A New Leaf
This week we started some timber stand improvement (TSI) work on the area. Although this isn't “renovation work” in the sense of construction, it is work being done to improve the habitat on Duck Creek in the long-term...so in a way you could still classify it as “renovation work.” Below is a little background on why we are cutting down some trees in order to “turn a new leaf” and make room for the future timber stand at Duck Creek.
A Little History
Forest management practices on Duck Creek were limited during the first 40 years (1955–1995). The only disturbances to the timber since the initial establishment of the area has been the salvage of logs from construction sites and tornado-damage areas, small research projects and clearing with heavy equipment in attempts to improve waterfowl hunting.
Since 1996 managers have responded to forest health issues with applied forest management techniques such as timber stand improvement (TSI) and improved water management in portions of Pools 2 and 3 green tree reservoirs (GTRs). These management practices have been applied in a fairly conservative manner for the most part. Ultimately, the goal of forest management on Duck Creek CA is to sustain the forest ecosystem and desirable community types, not the production of wood fiber.
Unfortunately, the years of little to no forest management and the flooding regime that were implemented early on in the GTRs have left us with an aging overstory of desirable species, particularly red oak species such as pin oak and willow oak, and a less desirable understory with a high maple and ash component. This puts us in a serious dilemma. The forest of tomorrow (the understory) isn't the forest community that we have and are enjoying today. This situation is common across many GTRs in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
For the last 20 years managers of GTRs across the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley have been contemplating this problem and trying to find the “magic” technique that guarantees successful establishment of red oaks in the understory to replace the aging overstory. We aren’t there yet, but we have made some definite steps in the right direction. At Duck Creek there have been several research projects and numerous attempts at recruiting good stands of young red oaks. Some of these attempts have been successful, although