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Landscape Forest Stewardship Program Summary for Year 1in Kansas

State Lands Activities

In February and March of 2013, meetings were arranged with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) property managers at each state property scheduled for 2013. The meetings included woodland assessments to determine which parts of the property the manager wanted to focus on as well as which parts of the property offered the best opportunities for forest management activities.

With Justin Hamilton, the property manager of Douglas State Fishing Lake, Fitzgerald Youth Hunting Property and Leavenworth State Fishing Lake, seven stands were selected for forest stand improvement (three stands at Douglas SFL, and two at Leavenworth SFL and Fitzgerald). A total of 25 acres, 6.5 acres and 39.5 acres were delineated for treatment at Douglas SFL, Fitzgerald and Leavenworth SFL, respectively. The stands at each property were well represented by oaks, walnuts and hickories, but a combination of elms, hackberry trees, honey-locusts, osage-orange, eastern red cedar and basswood, were also present in great quantities. Many of those species mentioned can be symptomatic of degraded forests and/or a lack of forest management. Additionally, invasive species including Asian bush honeysuckle at Fitzgerald, and tree-of-heaven at Douglas SFL were identified. Because of the significant component of desirable species (i.e. oaks, walnut and hickories), we selected these stands because they allowed for maximum benefit from the resources available for treatment activities. The removal of invasive species was also a goal of treatments.

A similar method was employed at the Noe Special Hunt Property in Jackson County. In consulting with Justin Anderson, the KDWPT property manager for Noe, two stands totaling 31 acres, were selected for treatments. Similar species composition occurred at the Noe property as described above. However, we did not identify invasive species in the woodlands at Noe.

After sites and stands had been selected, an inventory of the woodlands was conducted. Plots measuring overstory and middle-story trees were 1/10 ac in size, and 1/500 ac plots were installed to determine regeneration trends. The data derived from the inventories were used to develop management plans for the individual stands. Marking guides were also developed to improve accuracy of tree marking for treatment implementation. A total of 102 acres were scheduled for treatment in this way.

In November, the contract for performing forest stand improvement work on all of these properties was awarded to Quality Forest Management, LLC. In January 2014, the treatments were implemented and completed over three days. A brief summary of that work and lessons learned is included below.

 

Community Meetings and Private Landowner Involvement

In April and August of 2013, meetings were arranged with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agents, KDWPT personnel, Kansas State University Research and Extension staff, Kansas Forest Service staff and County Conservation District personnel. These groups were brought together to aid in marketing the project, providing technical assistance and add trusted names in land management to the bill to increase private landowner trust in the project (other landscape-scale projects in the eastern United States had shared that having more organizations involved often increased landowner involvement by adding legitimacy and confidence in seeing a host of organizations putting their weight behind a project.).

With this collection of personnel, we moved into the public involvement stage. In order to draw in the public, we wrote an invitation letter with basic information about the project, and invited landowners within 2 to 3 properties off of the state lands. We chose not to publicize the meeting in a local newspaper or on the radio. This decision was made due to our resources, and to keep the number of “cooks in the kitchen” so to speak, to a manageable level. As for our resources, the only incentive we have to fund work on private land is through Federal cost-share programs such as EQIP. With only one district forester who has 15 counties to work with and the assistant forester spearheading the project, we just do not have the man-power to handle too many woodland visits/EQIP applications. A meeting with the landowners was set up at the local public library in the Douglas SFL and Leavenworth SFL areas.

The meetings were set for a weekday evenings. In presenting the project to the public, we brought them not just a background, but laid out the importance of the area. They were extremely interested in the natural history of the area as well as learning how many birds there were; the number and type of reptiles around; hearing about invasive species, and learning about forest ecology, among other things. The landowners became more engaged when they learned more about the environment they lived in, and the ways it all worked together. Additionally, many people seemed open to the use of fire as a management tool. Fire in Kansas has almost solely been used on grasslands. We were not sure how people would (or will) react to the use of fire in woodlands, but public education is necessary in proceeding. We also had a survey for the landowners to complete in order to better understand who the landowners are and what types of issues are important to them in managing their properties.

If we had included a short tree identification section to the presentation, it would have been beneficial for the landowners as well. Many folks were interested in managing their woodlands, but did not know where to start, or which trees were better to release or remove. Additionally, having had an identification conversation may have helped people determine whether they had invasive species in their woodlands. After this presentation, a number of people indicated they would be willing to do active management on their lands if they had adequate information and support.

Challenges remain, and we have learned that, in moving forward, we should ensure we have measurable goals to more effectively assess how things are proceeding. It is also important to develop stewardship plans that allow for flexible implementation. Adaptive management is vital to success, especially as future climate becomes less predictable, except that it will mostly be warmer and drier. Additionally, ensuring that there are a number of collaborators is important. Having expertise from many points of view lends credibility to the project, but also helps inform management actions.

The response from the landowners was somewhat slow in coming. Though there was interest after the meetings, there were few calls for site visits and plan writing. However, in January of 2014, there was a large influx in requests for site visits, mostly due to the second letter sent to landowners reminding them of the project and the opportunity for land management advice. By the end of January 2014, we will have had nine private properties (four at Douglas SFL and five at Leavenworth SFL) folded into our landscape management plans for a total of 440 acres.  Most inquiries have come from folks wanting information on how to manage their woodlands. General knowledge of species and forest ecology is at the base of the inquiries. So far, most property has stands in need of renovation through the removal of osage-orange, honey-locust, elms, hackberries, and eastern red cedar. One property owner is hoping to plant trees as well. There has also been interest in restoring pastures/meadows/prairies, and contact information for the qualified staff that were involved in the meetings as described above was given to aid in providing land management options.

 

Summary of Project Implementation by the Contractor, Quality Forest Management, LLC

Contractor:         Quality Forest Management, LLC.                            

Contact:               Jeremy Wilson                                                                  Cell: 573 248 7713

                                733 Stanton Ave.                                                              Email: JWilson@QFMLLC.com

                                Monroe City, MO 63456

                                                               

The Contractor performed Forest Stand Improvement activities from January 14-16, 2014. They performed this work at 4 different state lake properties managed by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT): Leavenworth State Fishing Lake, Douglas State Fishing Lake, Fitzgerald Youth Hunting property (Shawnee County), and Noe Special Hunt property (Jackson County). A total of 101.6 acres were treated by girdle + herbicide treatment. Trees to cut were marked by the Kansas Forest Service Landscape Forester (Chris Erickson) with blue paint, and boundaries were marked with orange paint.

Pathway (Picloram) and Element (Triclopyr) were used as herbicides for treating girdles and cut stumps of small diameter trees. The Contractor performed satisfactory treatments. They treated more trees than were marked due to too few trees being marked for treatment to fully achieve the goal of providing sufficient light in the understory to promote oak and walnut regeneration. The Contractor provided a number of suggestions for future activities (below).

Contractor suggestions:

  1. Mark leave trees, not cut trees (40-50 leave trees per acre).
  2. Cut more trees (at least 25% more- no more than 50-60 ft2/ac).
  3. TPA and BA on bid announcement.
  4. Topographic maps on bid announcement.
  5. Perform timber sale work too.

In the coming year, we look to do similar work at 5 KDWPT properties in eastern Kansas. I hope to implement the first four suggestions without question. These should not be difficult to implement, and will help ensure the meeting of treatment objectives. Timber sale planning and implementation will have to be discussed with property managers and performed within the bounds of outfits willing and able to accept logs. This may be a challenge if there are not many stems worth harvesting per acre. Assessments will be completed to determine timber sale feasibility. Another drawback of timber sales on state lands is that the money acquired in the sale will revert to a KDWPT general fund rather than into the coffers of the property where the timber sale was completed. This may reduce the desirability of managers to invest the time and effort into planning and road construction that may be necessary for timber sales on certain properties.