EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation strongly supports the USDA Forest Service’s Houston South Vegetation Management and Restoration Project in the Brownstown Ranger District of Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest.
The project sets out to accomplish goals established in the 2006 Hoosier National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, commonly referred to as the Forest Plan. The Forest Plan uses sound science to highlight specific land management techniques that will improve the vegetative structure and age diversity of the forest and ensure the longevity and resiliency of the forest and the native plant and animal species that inhabit it.
The Forest Plan recommends implementing timber harvest coupled with prescribed fire and selective herbicide treatments. These practices mimic naturally-occurring disturbances that have been suppressed by human intervention. This will aid in the regeneration of oaks and hickories while subduing shade-tolerant species like maple and American beech. The use of select herbicides will aid in the suppression and management of non-native and invasive species, resulting in improved age diversity and improved health and habitat for wild turkeys and a multitude of other wildlife.
“Currently, the Houston South Project Unit contains zero acres of forest in the zero to nine-year age class,” said Ryan Boyer, NWTF district biologist. “The Forest Plan recommends the forest should be comprised of four to 12% of young forest. A lack of forest age diversity, coupled with a lack of regeneration of oak and hickory species, is a direct threat to wildlife including the wild turkey.”
Boyer added that a lack of young forest and early successional habitat threatens the productivity of ground nesting species.
“In Indiana, you don’t have to look much further than the decline of the ruffed grouse, a young forest-dependent species which were once abundant throughout much of the state. Ruffed grouse are now currently proposed to be listed as state endangered.”
For more information on the project, visit the Forest Service’s scoping document: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/110474_FSPLT3_4492992.pdf.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.