Longleaf Pine Forest Management and Restoration Practices
In order to preserve the open land and improve wildlife habitat, The Walthour-Moss Foundation engages in forest management practices that are beneficial to the longleaf pine forest. These practices range from conducting prescribed burns to installing nest boxes for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to removing trees from the forest to allow the smaller plant species the room to thrive on the ground level.
We make every effort to communicate our plans with the community. Notices regarding land management practices are published in our newsletter, posted on our website as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. We also send emails to our neighbors alerting them to current projects. If you ever have a question about our longleaf pine forest management practices, please contact Landon Russell at 910-695-7811.
Sandhills plant and animal species have evolved in a system in which fire is a dominant factor. Each species has developed a means of coping with the frequent fires initially started by lightning and later humans. Prescribed fire is an essential tool in effective management of both the plant and animal species found on the Foundation.
To keep the longleaf ecosystem healthy, prescribed burns are performed on approximately 1,000 acres of Foundation land each year.
Hardwood Mid-Story Control
Oak trees are an important part of the longleaf pine ecosystem. Patches of mature oaks and scattered large oaks provide mast and nesting sites that are important to wildlife. Small oaks stump sprout when burned and provide added diversity to the system. However because of fire exclusion, some areas of the Foundation have a dense hardwood mid-story which blocks light from the forest floor and smothers groundcover with a dense layer of leaves. The oaks in these areas have grown too large to effectively control with prescribed fire.
Thinning of the oak mid-story is an important part of restoring the longleaf forest. Oaks are either cut and left on the forest floor to be burned at a later date or are chipped and removed from the land. Hand application of herbicide to the stumps slows the re-growth of oaks.
Loblolly and Slash Pine Plantation Conversion
Over sixty years ago, prior to Foundation ownership and management, approximately 400 acres of what is now the North Country and 20 acres of what is now main Foundation were planted in loblolly or slash pine. Over the next fifty years, these areas will be converted back to longleaf pine forest. This will be accomplished by removing 30-45 acres of loblolly and slash pine every eight to ten years in small half acre sections. These small sections will then be replanted with longleaf pine seedlings.
Closed Canopy Thinning
Some areas of the Foundation have poor groundcover due to dense growth of longleaf pines. These areas must be thinned so that light will reach the forest floor to aid in the growth of groundcover. Thinning Longleaf pine also allows more resources to be available to the remaining trees which increases the chances of their long term survival. Another benefit is that these stands will be less susceptible to mortality from fire when the canopy is open and heat can escape.
Safe Harbor Program
The Walthour-Moss Foundation is enrolled in the Safe Harbor Program for the benefit of the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker(RCW). The Safe Harbor Program is a landowner incentive program developed and administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to benefit RCWs through voluntary habitat improvements.
The Walthour-Moss Foundation is proud to be home to numerous clusters of red-cockaded woodpeckers. Our RCWs are monitored by USFWS and the Sandhills Ecological Institute.
For more information on the Safe Harbor Program and red-cockaded woodpecker, please contact Susan Miller, USFWS at 910-695-3323.
NC Forest Service http://www.ncforestservice.gov/
NC Prescribed Fire Council http://www.ncprescribedfirecouncil.org/
Longleaf Alliance http://www.longleafalliance.org/