Early Successional Habitat Creation Project 

In collaboration with the The United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service & Green Mountain National Forest

Bennington, Rutland, Windham and Windsor Counties, Vermont

Located on National Forest System lands on the Green Mountain National Forest, this project is being conducted in Southern Vermont within Bennington, Rutland, Windham and Windsor Counties. The aim of this project is to increase the regenerating age class (0 to 9 years old) of forested stands in an area making up roughly 17,411 acres over a 15-year period, in order to provide habitat for neotropical migrant passerine birds (or perching birds) and many other wildlife species requiring early successional habitats, including turkey, grouse, deer, rabbit, bear, fox, and native bees.

Site preparation would occur in all stands following harvest activities to create conditions favorable for establishing tree regeneration and to remove undesirable stems of existing saplings. Planting of oak and hickory species, or other species predicted to do well in future weather conditions, would be considered on south/west facing slopes and other appropriate sites as determined by a silviculturist.

To Be Implemented Over Time

In general, when aspen and/or birch are present, harvest treatments would be designed to regenerate these species. In stands with mature overstory trees and little or no acceptable regeneration in the understory, harvest treatments would also be designed to establish mid-tolerant species (such as red maple, yellow birch, northern red oak, and eastern white pine) and shade-intolerant species (such as aspen, paper birch, and black cherry).

Wetland Habitat and Vernal Pool Enhancement

In nine discrete wetlands or wetland complexes within the project area trees are to be felled overtime, but not harvested, within 100 feet of the wetland boundary, right up to the water’s edge. Leaving the trees on the ground to simulate natural wind throw events would provide valuable habitat for reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and invertebrates adjacent to or within wetlands. Up to nine total acres are to be treated in this fashion, or approximately one acre per wetland. Creation of vernal pools will also be implemented. 

Timber Harvest Methods

Vegetation Treatments

Potential harvest treatments are proposed for stands totaling up to 17,411 acres with between 500 to 1,000 acres harvested annually over a 15-year period. All activities are designed to be consistent with all Forest-wide and Management Area standards and guidelines in the Forest Plan.

In order to to increase early successional habitat conditions, the forest service is implanting the following activities:

This project was designed to move the existing condition of National Forest System lands within the project area (shown above) toward specific Forest Plan goals and objectives to obtain desired future conditions. The following Management areas are being targeted:

     • Diverse Forest Use

     • Diverse Backcountry

     • Remote Wildlife Habitat

     • Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area

     • Green Mountain Escarpment

To get from the existing condition of the targeted area to the desired future condition it has been determined that there is a need to:

     • Create desired early successional habitat conditions (see table below)

     • Promote aspen-birch habitat type

     • Maintain forest health

     • Improve wetland habitat

Vermont

Early Successional

Habitat

Project