Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Forest Recreation Class Visits Holmes State Forest...


(authored by Bob Pinkston) On February 24th, 2007 the Forest Recreation Class went to visit the Holmes Educational Forest for first hand observation of how to balance Multiple Use Management within a state operated Educational Forest. This two man forest ranger team, one a Haywood graduate, has the sometimes complicated task of managing for timber, recreation, education, wildlife, research and experiential education. This is a 235 acre forest at an elevation of 2,160 to 2,680 feet above sea level. The forest is owned by the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources along with five other ESF's in North Carolina. Educational classes and tours are offered to schools and interested groups to promote a better understanding of the value of forests and the importance of proper forest management.There are five hiking trails within the forest, including a talking tree trail with the trees identifying themselves and explaining the site requirements, wildlife benefits, and uses as a renewable resource. There is a forest demonstration trail with actual stand manipulation showing various types of silvicultural practices and how residual trees and plants respond and benefit from these forest management practices. There is a test site with the genetically enhanced blight resistant American Chestnut, Castenea dentata, that is 15 years old and actually producing fruit. A new project going on in cooperation with the University of Tennessee is a test site to evaluate the genetic potential and field performance of progeny collected from large surviving butternut trees, Juglans cinerea L., that have been identified to have some type of resistance to a canker, Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum, an introduced pathogen, estimated to have killed 77 percent of butternuts in the Southeast. Powell Wheeler of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, conducted an aquatic species survey in Crab Creek at the forest for a book sponsored by NANFA, North American Native Fish Association. The class was also introduced to how a timber sale contract was written up and how the forest can generate funds for operation with the timber sale. A demonstration forest stewardship plan was reviewed to the class and explained how it would be implemented on this forest. The sophomore students in this class really saw how everything they learn at HCC has to be applied in this type of position with state employment on an educational forest. The Forest Supervisor, another HCC graduate, has just moved on to further his education. This will leave an opening for employment at Holmes and may be filled just after this class graduates, when one of the current rangers steps up to supervisor. An outstanding filed trip for this class.

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