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Bikers Loft

WILDLIFE AND FORESTRY, OR FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE?


BILLY H. NEWMAN

I GREW UP IN RURAL SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA IN THE 1960’S AND 70’S. THERE WERE LOTS OF SQUIRRELS, RABBITS, SCATTERED RUFFED GROUSE AND QUAIL, AND A WHOLE HOST OF OTHER CRITTERS AND BIRDLIFE.

IT WAS HOWEVER, AN OCCASION TO CALL FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS WHEN A LONE DEER CAME SASHAYING ACROSS A PASTURE. WILD TURKEY AND BLACK BEAR WERE VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTANT (IT WASN’T UNTIL I WAS IN COLLEGE THAT I SAW A WILD TURKEY ALIVE AND IN PERSON!!). FACT IS, THESE THREE MAGNIFICENT CREATURES WERE ALMOST EXTINCT A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST BY TODAY’S STANDARDS!

MY, HOW THINGS CHANGE!! WHITETAILED DEER AND WILD TURKEY ARE ABUNDANT IN MOST OF VIRGINIA TODAY WITH BLACK BEAR HAVING STRONG POPULATION GROWTH AS WELL. THE ELIMINATION OF MARKET HUNTING, THE ESTABLISHMENT AND ENFORCEMENT OF GAME LAWS, AND THE CREATION OF HABITAT HAVE COMBINED TO ALLOW THESE SPECIES TO THRIVE. DEER POPULATIONS HAVE EVEN INCREASED TO NUISANCE PROPORTIONS IN SOME AREAS OF VIRGINIA.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND INLAND FISHERIES ACCOUNTS FOR THE FIRST TWO, BUT WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR HABITAT CREATION? WELL, I’M SO GLAD THAT YOU ASKED!! ALL WILDLIFE SPECIES HAVE DEFINITIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR SUNLIGHT, SPACE, SHELTER, FOOD, AND WATER IN ORDER TO DO WELL. BEAR, DEER, AND TURKEY ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION FORCED MANY FARMS TO BE SOLD OR ABANDONED BECAUSE THE SOILS HAD BEEN FIGURATIVELY “FARMED TO DEATH”. AS SHE WILL DO, MOTHER NATURE QUICKLY REGAINED CONTROL AND SUCCESSION BEGAN TO RENEW THE FORESTS WHERE FIELDS GREW CROPS ONLY A FEW YEARS EARLIER. AS THE FORESTS GREW, SO DID THE PRACTICE OF PROFESSIONAL FOREST AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE AND COUNTRY. WHEN THESE FORESTS BECAME HARVESTABLE, VARIOUS TECHNIQUES FOR HARVESTING HAVE BEEN UTILIZED TO NOT ONLY REGENERATE OUR FORESTS, BUT TO CREATE HABITAT FOR SAY…. BEAR, DEER, AND TURKEY. WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK IT!

FOREST PRODUCT UTILIZATION SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH DEFORESTATION, WHICH IS CHANGING FROM ONE LAND USE TO ANOTHER (GOING FROM FOREST TO DEVELOPMENT, FOR EXAMPLE).

THE ASTUTE READER MIGHT SAY “HOLD ON THERE FELLOW, DIDN’T YOU SAY EARLIER THAT DEER WERE REACHING NUISANCE LEVELS IN SOME PLACES? SO, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD WANT TO CREATE MORE HABITAT FOR DEER BY HARVESTING TIMBER?” THE READER MIGHT SAY THAT NEO-TROPICAL SONGBIRDS (BIRDS THAT OVER-WINTER IN CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA, BUT MIGRATE HERE IN SPRING TO REPRODUCE) ARE MORE TO THEIR LIKING. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT NEO-TROPICALS NEED VAST EXPANSES OF MATURE FOREST-RIGHT? WELL…….. WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS INDICATE THAT THE NEO-TROPICALS THAT ARE SUFFERING MOST FROM LACK OF APPROPRIATE HABITAT ARE THE ONES THAT REQIURE EARLY SUCCESSIONAL (THERES THAT WORD AGAIN!!) VEGETATION.


HOW DO WE GAIN EARLY SUCCESSIONAL VEGETATION? BY CREATING IT – OR PERHAPS HARVESTING TIMBER. THIS PROCESS ALLOWS SUNLIGHT TO REACH THE FOREST FLOOR IN ORDER TO RENEW (CONTRARY TO WHAT WE’VE BEEN TOLD, OUR FORESTS IN VIRGINIA ARE RENEWABLE) THAT PARTICULAR VEGETATIVE STATE NEEDED FOR THESE SPECIES OF BIRDLIFE. WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK THAT, TOO !!

THE ASTUTE READER MIGHT NOW INFER THAT THE GOAL IS TO HARVEST ALL OF THE TIMBER! HABITAT DIVERSITY IS THE “SPICE OF LIFE” WHEN TALKING WILDLIFE. A LANDOWNER’S GOAL MAY BE TO HAVE AS MANY SPECIES REPRESENTED WITH GOOD POPULATION NUMBERS WITHIN EACH SPECIE AS IS POSSIBLE ON THEIR PROPERTY. THE LANDOWNER MIGHT WANT TO FEATURE ONE SPECIE OF WILDLIFE ON THE “BACK 40” WHILE ENCOURAGING ANOTHER CRITTER WITH TOTALLY OPPOSITE REQUIREMENTS ON ANOTHER AREA. THE LANDOWNER MAY HAVE AREAS IN WHICH NO TIMBER HARVESTING (FOOLED ‘YA DIDN’T I!) IS THE APPROPRIATE PRESCRIPTION.

HABITAT DIVERSITY PROVIDES THE ABILITY TO CREATE MANY
AGE CLASSES AND COVER TYPES THROUGHOUT THE PROPERTY, SO AS TO PROVIDE BENEFITS TO NUMEROUS WILDLIFE SPECIES. WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT IS REALLY VEGETATION MANAGEMENT, AND THAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED IN MANY INSTANCES BY FOREST MANAGEMENT!

THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY PROVIDES COST-SHARE ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE TO LANDOWNERS INTERESTED IN FOREST AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT. A MAIN FEATURE OF THE PROGRAM IS TO PROVIDE COST-SHARE ASSISTANCE TO DEVELOP A STEWARDSHIP FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR A PROPERTY.

YOU WOULDN’T DREAM OF BUILDING A HOME WITHOUT A BLUEPRINT, NOR SHOULD YOU CONDUCT ACTIVITIES WITHIN YOUR WOODS WITHOUT A BLUEPRINT. A FOREST STEWARDSHIP PLAN IS THE BLUEPRINT FOR UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF YOUR VALUABLE FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES! CALL FOR MORE DETAILS!


BILLY NEWMAN IS A CERTIFIED FORESTER, AND OWNER/MANAGER OF ENVIROFOR, LLC. ENVIROFOR IS SHORT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE CONSULTING. ENVIROFOR, LLC. MAY BE REACHED AT (434) 263-4772.

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1-877-388-0564