Hudson Farm Club, Inc. - Northern New Jersey

Yes
Action

Actions identified in a climate-informed management plan are implemented and ongoing.

Organized in the late 1970’s, Gracie & Harrigan Consulting Foresters, Inc. uses science-based forest management to serve more than 750 woodland owners, including families, major corporations, and non-profit organizations. Together, they own over 34,000 acres of woodland which benefit from sustainable forestry. Incorporating climate change into sustainable forest management is demonstrated through the project described below.

Contact:  Patricia Butler

Contact: Steven Kallesser, CF

Project Location

This project covers approximately 3,000 acres of privately-owned forest land in northern New Jersey (the exact location is withheld for privacy reasons). The majority of the property is forested upland characterized by mid-successional, closed-canopy forest, especially stands adjacent to shrub/scrub or emergent wetland habitats. Due a combination of past management, fire suppression, and natural succession, this forest type is beginning to shift from oak/hickory to northern hardwoods. Deer populations have been managed on this property through a Quality Deer Management Program over the last five years. 

The current management plan is to improve the overall quality, health, and vigor of the forest, and to restore early-successional habitat for the state-endangered golden-winged warbler (and other species utilizing this niche). Early management actions included a modified seed tree harvest that retained 10 to 15 song perch trees per acre preceded by invasive plant removal. After two years, the quality seed bed provided a source for native plants, and there was aggressive stump-sprouting. Post-harvest regeneration surveys confirmed dominance of maple and birch. The golden-winged warbler was not yet observed, likely due to lack of advance regeneration. The yellow-breasted chat, a state species of concern, was observed using young regeneration.

Climate Change and the Northeastern United States

The potential effects of future climate on forests in New Jersey and the broader Mid-Atlantic Region include:

  • Warmer temperatures, drier soils in the summer months
  • Projected decrease in suitable habitat for red maple, black birch, sugar maple, and American beech
  • Potential increase in invasive plants
  • Increased precipitation, but a shift toward more intense events and longer periods between events
  • Increased disturbance from wind and storms

These climatic changes will impact local forests in northern New Jersey. The Climate Change Tree Atlas predicts sharp declines in suitable habitat for many of the northern hardwood species, but predicts increases or stability in suitable habitat for oak and hickory species. Regeneration and the long-term viability of northern hardwoods may be threatened by increases in temperature, seasonal soil moisture deficits, or more frequent drought conditions. A possible benefit for oaks would be reduced competition from northern hardwoods.

Adaptation Actions

Staff from Gracie and Harrigan Consulting Foresters used Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to identify actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of the property. A consulting forester first identified an overall approach to managing this stand under changing conditions: restoring the oak and hickory component of this forest while simultaneously reducing the northern hardwood component.

Specific tactics were identified that increased resilience of the oak/hickory forest. Benefits of specific tactics (see table below) include:

  • Improving light conditions on the forest floor
  • Reducing seed source for maple/beech/birch regeneration
  • Reducing mortality of oak during periods of drought

Adaptation actions for oak-dominated forests in New Jersey

Current Project Status and Next Steps:

Invasive plant removal was executed prior to harvesting. Harvesting to reduce the northern hardwood component started in February 2014 and is ongoing. Post-harvest surveys will begin in spring to monitor the number of oak/hickory acres regenerating successfully, as well as the number of gypsy moth egg casings per acre. Pre-commercial thinning to encourage oak regeneration in future harvest areas (harvest in 5 to 10 years) will be marked in summer 2014. Invasive species monitoring (and treatment) will be conducted 1 and 3 years post-harvest.