Moving forward on the Habitat Management Plan

In line with Marlboro’s new habitat management plan, Tannor Mulford, environmental co-op student, completed several more sustainability projects before leaving in December 2012. He planted two perennial food plots (photos 1 & 2), arranged nearly 80 acres of pine stands to be thinned (photos 3 & 4) and planted over 150 soft mast trees (photos 5 & 6) on the Marlboro property.

Diversity of food sources

These newly altered areas will provide a sustainable and more diverse food source for the native wildlife. The goal of these three projects was to achieve optimal forage with minimum site preparation (i.e. the most modest investment possible). So Tannor’s approach was to take advantage of what was already there.

For example, there are two underground natural gas lines that run through the property, which have to be mowed annually to comply with regulations. Before the planting, these areas were covered in weeds and herbaceous plants with little wildlife value.

The natural gas line company allowed us plant clover and chickory as a perennial food plot. These two cool season grasses, which appeal to the whitetail deer and wild turkeys, will remain healthy with little maintenance for up to five years.

New life to the forest

The 80 acres of pine stands that were thinned will be thriving with new life this spring. The former canopy was dense and competitive, leaving little sunlight and soil nutrients for the much needed understory layer that is essential for a variety of local wildlife. The thinned area will also provide cover for escape, nesting and brood rearing, as well as thermal protection.

During the thinning, for every stand we also installed a logging deck, where the loggers operate bulldozers and other clearing equipment to level the grade. These areas can be taken advantage of in the future to install additional food plots or tree plantings.

Labor with actual fruit

Tannor also planted 150 soft mast (i.e. soft fruit) producing trees in a large fallow field on the property. The trees, namely common persimmon, redbud, wild apple, wild pear, and pawpaw, were planted in rows that will allow for easy maintenance and mowing. There were also two hard mast species planted, Turkey oak and Chinese chestnut, along with the soft mast trees.

When these trees mature, they will product fruit at various times of the year, helping native wildlife during stress periods when other food sources are not available.

There are still new management practices to be implemented at the Marlboro Mill so stay tuned…

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