Abstract

Title:  A Summary of Using Girdling, Herbicides, and Fire to improve Hardwood Stands for Wildlife
Author(s): Brad F. Miller, University of Georgia; Samuel W. Jackson, Ryan G. Basinger, Craig A. Harper, David S. Buckiey, Lisa I. Muller, University of Tennessee
Year: 2006
Abstract: Private landowners and hunt clubs are becoming increasingly interested and knowledgeable about improving their deer herds and habitat through the use of food plots and appropriate deer densities. However, manipulation of hardwood forests is a critical component of habitat management that some landowners either overlook or are unsure how to implement. We have previously reported that "wildlife retention cuts" with or without the addition of prescribed fire is an effective technique for increasing hard and soft mast, as well as increasing light availability in the understory. Therefore a practical evaluation of the effects of girdling, herbicides, and fire on undesirable tree species found in oak - hickory forests is necessary. Two silvicultural treatments (wildlife retention cut, and wildlife retention cut with prescribed burning) were implemented in four mature oak-hickory stands in east Tennessee. The retention cuts were conducted in February and March, 2001 by using a chainsaw to girdle undesirable tree species and then spraying each cut with ~ar lon"3 A. Prescribed burning was conducted in April, 2001. In July and August, 2001 and 2002, we used random plots to survey the health, species, and diameter of treated trees. We found that at the end of the first growing season, the burned retention cuts had higher percent kill than the unburned retention cuts (25.5 and 9.8% respectively). At the end of the second growing season the percent killed increased for both the burned retention cuts and the unburned retention cuts (51.0 and 34.0% respectively), although the percent kill of the burned retention cuts remained higher. We found that some species including oaks (Quercus spp.) and hickories (Carya spp.) were more succeptible to the herbicide effects than other species such as American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and blackg um (Nyssa sylvatica). The use of fire added additional mortality to species such as yellow-poplar (Liriodendmn tulipifera) and red maple (Acermbmm). We believe that wildlife retention cuts with or without the addition of fire is a practical way for private landowners to manage their hardwoods to increase mast production and understory browse.

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