Ohio DNR Division of Forestry: Hobey Hollow Cruise

Yes
Planning

The Ohio DNR Division of Forestry is currently working to incorporate climate change considerations into their management planning.

The Ohio Division of Forestry administers 21 state forests that vary in size from nearly 64,000 acres to less than 500 acres, covering a total more than 200,000 acres in 21 counties. These forests are managed for multiple uses including sustainable timber production, wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, and recreation. The Division of Forestry is committed to the sustainable management of Ohio State Forests and has committed to achieving and maintaining certification of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

Across the southern Ohio landscape, oak-hickory is the dominant forest type on not only State-owned lands, but on adjacent and highly interspersed private and federal lands as well. This project deliberately considered the expected effects of climate change on oak-hickory ecosystems, and identified potential climate-related management challenges and opportunities.

Contact: Patricia Butler

Map of Ohio showing Hobey Hollow project locationRight: Map of southern Ohio showing the Shawnee State Forest (green areas) and the Hobey Hollow project location (red).

Project Location and Goals

The Hobey Hollow project area covers approximately 243 within the Shawnee State Forest, Scioto County, Ohio. The forest is predominantly oak-hickory and managed sustainably for a wide variety of benefits and services, including early successional wildlife habitat, forest health, oak-hickory restoration, timber production, and public recreation. 

Climate Change Vulnerabilities and Opportunities

In October, 2015, staff from the Ohio Division of Forestry worked with NIACS and the Wayne National Forest to consider broad climate trends summarized in the Central Appalachians Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment (Butler et al. 2015), and identify specific climate change impacts that are relevant to the site conditions within the project area:

  • Warmer temperatures of 3 to 8 degrees F throughout the year
  • Increased variability in precipitation and soil moisture levels can result in more surface runoff, soil erosion, or vehicle damage to soils in wet conditions
  • More frequent extreme weather events (wind, ice, rain, storms) can create more canopy gaps, but could also create more hazard trees on edges or near trails
  • Forest impact models predict positive climate effects on many oak and hickory species: pignut hickory, scarlet oak, bitternut hickory, black oak, blackjack oak, chinkapin oak, mockernut hickory, pin oak, post oak, shagbark hickory, shortleaf pine, Virginia pine, and southern red oak are all expected to fare well
  • Mesic species like red maple and sugar maple are expected to become less competitive
  • Woody and herbaceous invasive species are expected to become more abundant and competitive with native species
  • Droughty conditions are likely to result in higher susceptibility of oaks to certain pests and pathogens, collectively referred to as oak decline
  • Reduced soil moisture in summer and fall are expected to shift burn windows for prescribed fire, increase dry fuels, and increase fire severity

Adaptation Actions

DNR staff were able to identify several potential actions that could help oak-hickory stands adapt to changing conditions, many of which are already standard practice. Examples include:

Project Outcomes

Ohio DNR staff completed the Adaptation Workbook in the fall of 2015 and is using this information to incorporate climate change considerations into State Forest management as part of the larger Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership, 'Collaborative Oak Management in the Ohio Appalachian Mountains'. The Partnership goals are to coordinate inventory, management and monitoring of oak-hickory forests in seventeen counties in the unglaciated region of southeastern Ohio to improve efficiency and effectiveness for landscape scale management of oak-hickory forests. An adaptation workshop completed in October 2015 brought together oak-hickory project teams from the Wayne National Forest and the Ohio Division of Forestry. Additional workshops in FY2016 will build on this work to meet the goals of the partnership.