An update from Mersey Community Forest Co-op (MCFC) to share with you.
With December around the corner, it’s time for a fall update! We’ve been busy gearing up a few partnerships and projects… with Hemlock Woolly Adelgid treatments underway, and trials for at-risk bird best management.
Forest Operations Update
Transitioning into fall, our seasonal operational restrictions for birds and species-at-risk (SAR) have lifted and forest operations resume on the MCFC license area. This spring we partnered with Freeman Lumber to move forward with our 2022 Operating Plan and the fall operations season began in September with significant road upgrades in the West and East Branch Medway areas. Special thanks to CN Orde & Sons for their excellent work in maintaining access for the multitude of users enjoying the license area this fall. Following the road upgrades, R&C Weare Logging Ltd of Caledonia completed a 14 hectare (ha) commercial thinning and small red pine salvage operation in the West Branch area, just west of Salmon Lake.
Our next proposed harvest is a 55 ha Gap Shelterwood in the Northfield area, just south of Snowshoe Lakes Nature Reserve. This site is part of our SAR Bird Beneficial Management Practices project with Dalhousie University and the team has uncovered a wealth of data on the locations of important habitat features such as nest sites and feeding areas within the harvest block. The following four SAR species, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Chimney Swift, Common Nighthawk, and Evening Grosbeak, were found to be using the area and operation plans will incorporate practices necessary to protect these species and benefit their continued use of the habitat there.
MCFC currently has an upcoming harvest operation posted on the Harvest Plan Map Viewer for public comment until December 10th. This harvest site is in the Northfield region just south of Snowshoe Lake Nature Reserve. The stand is predominately red spruce with white pine, hemlock, yellow birch, and red maple. The area was previously harvested twice by Bowater; 1945 aerial imagery shows a history of extensive harvesting at the site, and in 2010 Bowater initiated an Expanding Gap Group Selection (EGGS) harvest.
MCFC’s plan for this harvest is a continuation of the EGGS system, which is designed to restore multi-aged stand structure to forests that have been simplified by past harvesting. Usually, expanding gap shelterwoods are applied using a 100-year rotation, with multiple entries during the first half of the rotation. In the initial entry in 2010, 0.1-hectare (ha) gaps were harvested at a rate of 20% of the harvest area, spread throughout the site, with permanent retention left in each gap. Subsequent entries will harvest an additional 20% of the stand through expansion of the original gaps approximately every 10 years. Up to 20% of the stand will be left as permanent reserves and any inclusions of wet soils or remnants of old forest will be removed from the harvest area. Once the whole area has been regenerated it will be left to develop for 50 years, when the cutting cycle may begin again. The current proposed harvest would be a second entry to expand the existing gaps, and then we would wait another 10 or so years for the third entry.
The harvest site will be open for comment until December 10th, and we encourage our members, and members of the community to provide feedback. Some additional details are on our website blog here.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Treatment Program
Working in partnership with Departments of Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources and Renewables, MCFC helped launch a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) treatment program in October! We have been working in Protected Areas and Nature Reserves in the Medway and Rossignol areas with the goal of protecting ecologically and culturally significant hemlock stands from the invasive HWA, which is impacting the forests of southwestern NS and causing widespread hemlock mortality.
We are planning an HWA treatment demonstration day on November 27th at the 4-Mile Stillwater trail. We’ll host similar events again in the spring if you can’t make this one. Participants will have a chance to learn about identifying hemlock woolly adelgid, how to monitor the health of infested trees, see trees in different stages of decline and learn about treatment options for conserving healthy hemlocks. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. We also hope to offer volunteer opportunities beginning in 2023, so look to our website blog page for more information about this exciting project!
Recreational Trail Development
This fall has been busy around the Stave Lakes area in the MCFC. A big thanks to Ricky with Oneric Forestry and Excavation for carving out a lovely accessible campsite trail. We will be hosting a camp site cleanup day for any keen certified chainsaw operators on Sunday December 4th, reach out to email@example.com if you’re interested in helping!
Along with campsites, the site will host over 3 kms of day-use wilderness trails wrapping around the two lakes and connecting to the Lake Torment road. Mike Lancaster Trail Services has carefully winded the footpath through the forest, with the goal of moving people around nature, not nature around people. You’ll find these trails to be less groomed and built up, aside from some simple boardwalks over wet areas. A hiker can expect to step over small logs, pass through some uneven terrain, catch some lake vistas, traverse through various forest types, and enjoy a diversity of species.
We’re looking for community input for trail names. You can submit your choice or offer a suggestion here!
These trails have been made possible with support through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Annapolis County Community Grant, and in-kind support from Freeman Lumber, Tilia Builders, and the North Queens Board of Trade.
We’re excited to welcome visitors starting in the spring of 2023!
Thank you for your support and interest in the Community Forest. If you’re in need of a new cozy sweater, check out our merch store!
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