Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wildlife Botany Students Participate In the 7th Eastern Native Grass Symposium Cumberland Mountains, TN

The first field tour, “Big Bottoms”, was converted about 40 years ago from mixed pine-hardwoods to loblolly pine plantations for fiber production. The loblolly pine stands were thinned to a much lower basal area, and are now being managed with prescribed fire to encourage growth of native grasses and forbs in the understory. The overall conservation goals for this portion of the Cumberland region are exciting and include dynamic partnerships across several different agencies and other conservation partners. The second field tour was at Catoosa Wildlife Management Area (WMA). We were able to see what is believed to be the largest oak savannah restoration project east of the Mississippi River. The project resulted from the harvest of southern pine beetle-damaged trees (i.e. primarily shortleaf pine) from a mixed pine-hardwood forest in 1999, followed by prescribed fire. A rich community of native grasses and forbs responded to the opening of the forest canopy and fire management. Today, there are approximately 1,500 acres of savannah on the site with a projected goal of over 3,700 acres! During this field tour, we were able to observe a logging crew selectively harvesting one of the research /management units on Catoosa WMA. It was definitely a highlight to experience management in action! Special thanks to Billy Minser, Pat Keyser, Craig Harper, Clarence Coffee, Carl Kilmer, and especially Terry Hewn for the grand tour of Catoosa WMA. Thank you all for helping make this happen! (Post by Chris Graves)

No comments: