Coopers Rock State Park, found just 30 minutes outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, will be getting a makeover pretty soon. This makeover will be replacing most of the red maple (Acer rubrum) trees with oak (Quercus spp.) trees for better wildlife management. Apparently, there are more A. rubrum trees than the Q. spp. species which isn't really good for wildlife species found there. A. rubrum does not hold a good wildlife value, whereas Q. spp. does serve multiple wildlife species.
The upcoming project that the West Virginia Division of Forestry
has planned has many members of the general public worried about both the wildlife and recreational opportunities within the park. However, this project entitled Scott Run II
is to help promote the regeneration of oak trees found in that general area. The Scott Run project will be covering almost 210 acres within the state park.
When a timber inventory was completed back in 1999-2000, WVDF found that 33.2 percent of the pole-sized trees inside the project area were A. rubrum. Andrew Dick, who is the land owner assistance forester, stated that they could replace oak and yellow poplar (Liriodendro tulipifera) by maturity. Having just one species of tree within any given area is also a bad thing, because if an insect or disease came through it would wipe everything out. This in turn would then make it difficult for the forested areas to recover.
The project will consist of removing several small trees from the area which would then allow for more sunlight to reach the forest floor. You see for those of you that don't know, Q. spp. need some shade (not a lot) and light to develop properly and completely. Those trees that have a large crown are going to be kept, because of the wildlife value and the drop seeds that they produce.
There are also other special projects to be done. One of them involves removing the invasive grass species called the Japanese stilt grass from the area since not all wildlife is fond of eating it. This grass has gotten out of control and should be removed before it speads to the entire state park. It is going to be removed from a wildlife opening, and some trees will also be cut back there. This, in turn, would make it seem bigger and it will also be easier for wildlife to pass through. Another aspect that foresters will have to worry about is the threat of Three-Toothed Flat-Spired Land Snail. So, what they plan on doing is have a buffer of 150 feet of any potential habitats. This will keep any timber companies from harvesting in those areas where the snail can be found.
This project should help control the A. rubrum from taking control in certain areas, and help the wildlife live off the land better.