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RememberSchiff

Restoring Camp woodlands with different species (MT)

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Interesting discussion for Environmental Science merit badge, etc. IMHO, planting less susceptible species in a stressed ecosystem will be preferred over replanting current threatened species.

 Montana Council, Boy Scouts of America, is underway with a woodland transformation project on Melita Island after devastating stress on trees due to root rot and dwarf mistletoe, in combination with defoliation by Tussock moth and mortality by bark beetle.

The biggest issue is safety to the more than 1,000 youth and staff who make the island their home throughout the summer. Recent winds have toppled large trees due to the weak and diseased root systems. Safety to the youth served continues to be Montana Council’s top concern.

Rehabilitating the island to a healthy and natural ecosystem is the goal while eliminating the potential spread of issues to neighboring properties....Primary tree species on the island are Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir with a minimal, scattered population of Western Juniper and various hardwoods.

The Douglas fir Tussock moth infestation, now in its third year, has resulted in severe defoliation of the stressed trees with significant mortality from bark beetles. Issues besides the mortality include excessive lean, shallow roots with minimal to no taproot and root rot, creating a hazardous environment. Douglas fir will be the majority of the trees removed. Old-growth Ponderosa pine, a signature tree for the island, will be conserved. 

An aggressive replanting process begins immediately and includes an impressive reforestation of mostly deciduous trees and sufficient shrubs, including chokecherry. Tree removal started the last week of October. The burning of slash piles is expected to begin in early November with visual smoke. Please be advised that smoke from Melita Island is planned with the controlled burn.

Scouting programs at Melita Island are heavily water-based with courses including sailing, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, boating, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, shooting sports, nature, camping, first aid and more.

....

Sources:

https://www.montanabsa.org/melita-island-woodland-rehabilitation-project/

http://www.valleyjournal.net/Article/22352/Boy-Scouts-rehabilitate-Melita-Island-woodland

Edited by RememberSchiff
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This is, indeed, a very interesting (and complicated) issue.

Tree planting used to be a simple thing to do. If you find an area that's been de-forested, you plant whatever kinds of trees have historically thrived in that area.

Global warming and the pervasive threats to habitat and native species make that a harder effort.  Naturalists have been dealing with invasive insects decimating native species. Trees that once thrived in an area are often dying out.  

Naturalists are also observing that changing temperatures mean that tree bands in mountainous areas are changing. Lower elevations are becoming too hot for some plant species, and "moving up the mountain" isn't always naturally easy. Similarly, as lower latitudes become too warm or moist (or dry), the trees that once thrived are dying out because they can't naturally move north fast enough to avoid their own demise.

When do a tree planting project, you can consult with a local expert (like a botanist at your local agricultural extension office). They may be able to suggest an alternative tree species for you, or may suggest an alternative location where your newly planted trees might have better odds of survival.

Good luck!

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One thing to consider is diversity. Don't plant just one species or tree type. I remember this warning from my college days when U of I planted all Elms in the Quad and when they succomed to Dutch Elm disease they replanted with Ash trees thinking they were the hardiest of all trees. 

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As the ash borer began to make its way towards our parts I began to plant some seedlings to take their place in my woods proactively. I have also collected acorns from the nearby park and left piles for the squirrels to hide hoping that some might take root. Fortunately my woods are not a monoculture of ash, so all is not lost. The hickory are the most abundant.

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The old Arbor day projects were generally aimed at instant gratification and the notion of forest progression from field to pines to hardwoods. My brother planted firs and spruce in part of our property, and they loomed large in a decade. But there was no plan to bring up maple, oak and sassafras behind it.

Hardwood plantings are challenging. Deer love rubbing those saplings!

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43 minutes ago, qwazse said:

The old Arbor day projects were generally aimed at instant gratification and the notion of forest progression from field to pines to hardwoods. My brother planted firs and spruce in part of our property, and they loomed large in a decade. But there was no plan to bring up maple, oak and sassafras behind it.

Hardwood plantings are challenging. Deer love rubbing those saplings!

Reminds me of a personal story. Back in the 1960s, my grandfather was working as a land manager for a large paper company. The company had bought up thousands of acres on which they would plant a "forest".  Rows, upon straight, even rows of uniformly spaced pine trees were planted as far as the eye could see. Pine grew fast and would provide pulp for the company in the 80s. Of course, few native birds, insects, or forbs would grow there and it became a macabre kind of place that never seemed to look, smell, sound, or feel like those pockets of natural forestland that reminded folks of how forests used to be...

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In New England, our eastern hemlocks (IMHO, our most important tree) are turning to skeletons due to the woolly adelgid.  The browntail moth  is attacking oaks and cherry twice during growth season.  Good news, the winter moth has just about been eradicated. Eastern white pines cannot withstand the wind gusts we are seeing from climate change.  Sugar maples are in decline from acid rain and warmer winters.  Plant zones are shifting north at a faster rate. I was zone 5, soon to be zone 6, so plant forward with a rotating  biodiversity. 

My eastern white pine and eastern hemlock woods will become Norway spruce and ??? and ??? 

:(

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