Mark Twain National Forest: Blackwell Ridge Project


The project is in the planning stages to manage upland forests, woodlands, and wetlands to closer reflect historic vegetative communities. 

The Blackwell Ridge Project proposes to use an ecosystems management approach to enhance natural vegetative communities. The approach includes vegetation management methods such as timber harvest to mimic historic natural disturbance regimes.
Contact: Leslie Brandt
The Blackwell Ridge Project would use an ecosystems management approach to enhance natural vegetative communities. The project would move the natural vegetative communities toward their historic landscape patterns.
The photo shows an open forest floor and sunlight hitting the forest floor after treatment.
Example of a salvage and site preparation prescription 1 year after treatment. Photo by Michael Stevens, District Silviculturist, of the Mill Springs area on County Road 442 in Wayne County).
The project would use timber harvest treatments to move the forest toward historic landscape patterns and amounts of disturbed forest. Stands ranging in size from 2-40 acres would be harvested to create new early seral habitat or early seral forest (up to 10 years in age).
It would also improve forest health by harvesting mature trees exhibiting decline, particularly species in the red oak group, such as black and scarlet oak while retaining longer-lived species such as as shortleaf pine and white and post oak.
In addition to timber harvest treatments, the project would also improve wildlife habitats in ponds and openlands, restore wetland ecosystems in the area, and complete necessary road maintanence to protect water and soil resources.
The Blackwell Ridge Project area is located on the Poplar Bluff Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest. The general project area is located west of U.S. Highway 67, and north of the Black River (see map).
Climate Change and the Mark Twain National Forest
According to the majority of climate models and a recently completed vulnerability assessment for the central hardwoods region, these climate change impacts are expected in the Missouri Ozarks region by the end of the century:
Mean annual temperature increases from 2° F to 7° F.
Increased precipitation in winter and spring and potential declines in summer.
Increased frequency and severity of wildfire.
These climatic changes will affect local ecosystems on the Mark Twain National Forest. Historic logging and grazing reduced the amount of shortleaf pine in the area and led to an increase in closed-canopy forests and woodlands dominated by scarlet and black oak. Model results across a range of climate scenarios project that climate conditions will be favorable for shortleaf pine; however, the current canopy structure is inhibiting its regeneration. In addition, black and scarlet oak are projected to be negatively affected by changes in climate, especially if summers become much hotter and drier.
Adaptation Actions 
Staff from the Mark Twain National Forest used Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to identify actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of ecosystems in the project area.
Below are a few examples of broad adaptation approaches and specific tactics that are proposed to enhance the adaptive capacity of the project area in the face of a changing climate:
table of adaptation actions
Current Project Status
Mark twain National Forest staff members completed the Adaptation Workbook exercise in September, 2014, and will incorporate this information into an Environmental Assessment as part of the NEPA process.