Old Growth and Mature Trees.. And Spirits?

While we’re waiting for the text of the mature/old forest EO, let’s look somewhere different than the old western wet forest/dry forest challenges. Plus it’s Friday and the weekend approaches, so…

I think that this may be the first TSW link to the Wine Enthusiast. Turns out that for barrel staves, white oak trees need to be 80 to 100 years. And some of the practices to keep white oak in the mix for future generations include “crop tree release”, which might involve cutting old trees of white oak and other species. But white oaks are important for wildlife and biodiversity, so we definitely want to keep them the mix.

Suppose that there were a policy that no 80 year old trees could be cut on the national forests that have white oak? Looks like people are seriously concerned about losing that species, due to competition from other species, as well as other factors. Yes- if you don’t cut them, they will be around longer; but it looks like if you leave the stands alone in many cases you won’t get white oak back. Suppose the old white oaks die naturally; but then the formerly understory species would be old, and you couldn’t cut them either. So adios white oak on national forests?

Anyway, for those unaware of the White Oak Initiative, IMHO those folks have done a tremendous job of bringing researchers, practitioners and landowners together to figure out what the species needs and how to manage for it. It’s really an impressive effort.  I don’t know whether any people or groups are against it. Maybe because success depends on private landowners, it’s not so ideological as our own western debates.

5 thoughts on “Old Growth and Mature Trees.. And Spirits?”

  1. Burn. Then do leave-tree or shelterwood harvest with only oaks as residuals. Burn 3-4 years thereafter to kill yellow poplar and red maple. The result will be a future oak dominated stand. SRS and NRS figured this out 25 years ago, but not sure most R8 and R9 forests or other agencies do it. State wildlife agencies do some…biggest problem on national forests is that the firebugs cannot seem to understand once the oak regen gets established and competitors controls you should not then burn for 30 more years.

    • RSB.. are you saying that the firebugs think you shouldn’t burn or that you should for 30 more years?
      I could see that burning every 3-4 years might be difficult for NFs to plan, fund and execute.

  2. The Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest has several oak ecosystem types, so you would expect its newly revised forest plan to address any issues related to white oak, but there don’t appear to be any. It’s mentioned four times in the response to public comments (none of them major), and in the plan components it appears only as a standard for protecting bats and flying squirrels and a desired condition that they be “regenerating” in serpentine woodlands. The EIS says very little. (No mention anywhere of wine barrels.)

    I expected to see something about a desired condition for white oak, but found only this: “The structural and age diversity that can be expected across each ecozone is based on a model of the Natural Range of Variability (NRV) using disturbance analyses described in more detail in the Assessment.” Neither the “the model” nor the results of the model (the desired conditions) are in the plan or the assessment. Not having this plan component that is critical for diversity seems like a major flaw (but maybe it’s hiding somewhere else).

  3. This is what works in the southern Appalachians if you have oak residuals:

    Burn 2-3 prior to heavy shelterwood cut, then cut leaving oaks. Burn 2-4 years following regeneration establishment to kill maple and yellow poplar. Assess oak regen. Perhaps burn again in another 4-5 years.


    Don’t cut and burn stand 3X in a 10 year period to reset to all oak and pine. If oak establishes, then back off for 30 years

    Flying squirrel only occurs in spruce-fir, so not an issue!!! Bats love burned hardwood stands turned into a savannah with lots of snags to roost in.


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