The Trustees of Reservations: Notchview Reservation

Yes
Planning
The Trustees worked with a consulting forester to develop a ten-year forest stewardship plan for Notchview that incorporates climate change adaptation as one component of management. Other management needs include recreational trails and invasive species control.

Project Area

The single largest property owned by The Trustees of Reservations, Notchview Reservation includes more than 3,100 acres of forests, wetlands, grasslands, and early successional habitats. The property’s size, particularly when considered with its continuity to the Windsor State Forest (>1,500 acres) and the Moran Wildlife Management Area (2,447 acres), provides a vast expanse of relatively unfragmented forest that is critical habitat for wildlife and forest-interior birds. With an average elevation of approximately 2,000 feet, Notchview experiences a colder climate than much of the region, allowing for the existence of boreal species – and is threatened from the changing climate. The prevalent northern hardwood-red spruce forest contains some mature stands and pockets of rich soil which support a greater diversity of vegetation. The reservation includes a variety of wetlands including fast-running streams, beaver impoundments, forest seeps, vernal pools and large expanses of forested swamps, shrub swamps and sedge meadows. Large areas of grasslands, including hay fields, pastures and old fields, provide both valuable habitat for grassland wildlife and pastoral views. It is an important cultural, scenic and ecological landscape that is treasured by thousands of visitors. Given its setting and significance, Notchview offers an opportunity for the Trustees to both explore and demonstrate stewardship that creates and maintains a resilient forest landscape in a changing world.

Management Goals

Tall spruce trees planted in rows, with snow on trees

The Trustees’ goal is to manage Notchview’s forest habitats as a healthy, climate-resilient forest that provides diverse wildlife habitat and natural communities, as well as recreational opportunities and other ways to engage the public. To help achieve this long-term management goal, The Trustees worked with a consulting forester to develop a ten-year forest stewardship plan for Notchview, but with a longer term outlook as well. The forest stewardship plan outlines the goals and objectives for managing the property’s natural resources and will help The Trustees chart how to address threats to the forest resource such as the emerald ash borer, non-native invasive plants, and climate change. 

The following are objectives for Notchview forest stewardship:

  • Designate areas to develop into late successional forest requiring minimal management beyond invasive species control.
  • Plan for impacts on the forest from emerald ash borer and other forest pests.
  • Develop recommendations for forest management to benefit our recreational opportunities (skiing, biking, nature watching)
  • Identify priorities for invasive plant control that will benefit the resiliency of the existing forest or prepare for development of early successional habitats.

Climate Change Impacts

A view of tree tops without leaves and with many broken branches
For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Precipitation projections point to increases in annual precipitation, potential for reduced growing season precipitation, and continued increases in intense precipitation events.
More precipitation as rain during cold season could raise water levels in some wetlands and reduce habitat for trees there as well.
Extreme storms have already had major effects on the property, and impacts are expected to continue or increase as weather becomes more variable and events like ice storms increase.
Certain insect pests and pathogens will increase in occurrence or become more damaging, such as emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid.
Many existing issues with invasive species are expected to get worse over time, with possible influence from climate.
Many northern and boreal tree species will face increasing stress across much of the region.
Several dominant tree species are at risk of declining by the end of the century, including red spruce and balsam fir. Balsam fir is more cold-adapted species and expected to be more vulnerable to climate change than spruce.

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:

Challenges

The forest will lose its ability to regenerate the most cold-adapted species like red spruce and balsam fir. Local managers said that they thought that the forest would be losing its ability to regenerate by 2015.
By 2100. the spruce-fir system would be largely untenable across much of the property.
Sugar maple regeneration was also expected to be challenged by 2050.
Although the forest may be able to stay somewhat recognizable as northern hardwoods, declines in species like sugar maple and overall stress were expected to lead to a loss of native species diversity.
There is uncertainty about future precipitation and hydrological conditions— this will be a major factor in how forests and operations are affected.

Opportunities

There may be a window to regenerate species now (like spruce) while the climate is still favorable, in order to keep them around for longer.
There is an opportunity to create early-successional habitat in some areas, which could favor shade intolerant species like black cherry. These species are expected to have more suitable habitat in the future.

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Entire property
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Focus invasive species control in areas that have low densities of invasives and species/communities of significance.
By controlling invasives before they become dense, we can support a healthy forest more capable of being resilient against changes to climate.
2.3. Manage herbivory to promote regeneration of desired species.
Promote use of the property for hunting.
1.3. Maintain or restore riparian areas.
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
Identify and avoid harvesting in sensitive areas, including riparian areas and vernal pools.
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Use best management practices to minimize impacts to soil and water resources.
Avoid harvesting in areas with steep and highly-erodible soils.
Spruce-fir and northern hardwood forests
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
Using an overarching approach of passive management, allow some stands to grow naturally without harvest to achieve later-successional forest characteristics.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Use forest harvest to promote early successional habitat and a wider-diversity of tree species.
Create early successional habitat in select areas to promote regeneration of shade intolerant species and regeneration of new age classes of shade tolerant trees.
Forests with ash/ Emerald ash borer management
2.1. Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
To create early successional habitat, consider harvesting ash-heavy stands.
10.3. Realign significantly disrupted ecosystems to meet expected future conditions.
Pre-emptively remove white ash from trail corridors, while allowing white ash in the interior to succumb.
Clear ash from 50’ on either side of the trails (approximately 260 acres) to ensure the safety of the trail system. Use the value of the existing ash timber to fund the removal (clear before they die and have no value).
Work with local universities and researchers to document changes to forest following ash decline.
Norway spruce plantations
4.1. Prioritize and maintain unique sites.
Maintain 2-3 plantations as cultural features by thinning or other treatments as needed to promote health of the residual trees.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Convert 1-2 plantations along field edges to early successional habitat. This includes invasive control.
9.7. Introduce species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Consider replanting one plantation with potential “climate winner” species.

Monitoring

Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Forest plots – species composition, tree sizes, etc.
Invasive species – species and percent cover
Deer browse (regeneration in forest plots)
Bird species if managing for bird habitat
Rare species
Large and/or wide-ranging wildlife species (tracking and camera use for citizen scientists)

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

A coyote standing in a wet forest area.
A hardwood forest in fall with fall colors
An old and abandoned stone wall visible under forest debris.
A forest of mid-sized conifer trees, growing densly
A view of tree tops without leaves and with many broken branches

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Maria

Keywords

Insect pests, Invasive species, Lowland/ wetland conifers, Plantations, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods, Management plan, Recreation, Regeneration, Wildlife habitat

Last Updated

Thursday, November 29, 2018