Friday, October 2, 2015

Got Grouse?

Male Ruffed Grouse in Adams County 3-15-13  photo by John Howard

Today Mark Behrendt reported to the Ohio-Birds list-serv about a lack of ruffed grouse in Zaleski.  If successional habitat alone created grouse, Zaleski should be teaming with them.  ODNR even advertises "Excess Lumber For Sale to Public at Zaleski State Forest" on their Forestry website.

There is no shortage of successional habitat in Ohio.  The private lands which provide the 95% of timber products produced in Ohio are all successional.  Private property owners are certainly encouraged to manage and produce timber products on their lands- if they choose.  However, old-growth habitat is arguably the rarest habitat in Ohio. One would hope our State Forests would be managed for the needs of the future, not as the 1950 models dictate. Let's leave the timbering to private land owners. Ohio needs our contiguous forests to provide for biodiversity- like box turtles and bobcats.

Mohican Forest has one small parcel of old-growth trees protected as a State Nature Preserve.  Other lands at Mohican are schedule to be timbered this year.  Timbering will not help Mohican's tourist base. Those successional lands created by timbering will not produce grouse either, as we have not
seen a grouse in Mohican for at least 20 years.

This year Hocking Hills' Forest came very close to losing a large old stand of oaks and mixed hardwoods to the saw.  However, the Hocking Hills Tourism Association challenged Forestry's idea of management and the timbering is on hold for a year.  Tourists now have a little time to go and enjoy a last view of these trees, in case Forestry decides to follow through with the cut next year.

Ohio Ornithological Society (the owner of this list-serv) as well as Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Mohican Advocates, Ohio Environmental Council, Flora-Quest and North Central Ohio Land  Conservancy have been joined by the Hocking Hill Tourism Association in calling for the  rededication of Ohio's State Forestry System.

Looking towards better forest management. Photo by john Howard

If you are under the mistaken assumption that Ohio's Division of Forestry is strictly protecting forests lands, you need to know O.D.F. is timbering them, too.  Let's find better ways of raising funds for local schools and fire departments than cutting down our natural heritage for a short term
profit.  The tourism tax dollars in Ohio's most visited State Forests far out produces timbering as an economic driver.

"Hugging" our old trees makes good economic sense and drives eco-tourism and commerce.  More importantly, I've noticed birds like trees, too.

Nature will provide for natural succession, it always has.

Cheryl Harner
OOS Conservation Chair

More info on cutting in Mohican?  Go here.

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