Warren Suchovsky: NRCS Forest Management Plan

Yes
Action

NIACS worked with a consulting forester and a private landowner to incorporate climate change information and adaptation actions into an NRCS Forest Management Plan. Warren Suchovsky and Rexx Janowiak discussed the Adaptation Workbook at a field visit in December 2013.  Warren Suchovsky's plan was completed in 2014 and he is already implementing many of the management recommendations. 

Warren Suchovsky, a logger and private landowner, and Rexx Janowiak, a consulting forester, worked together to consider climate change impacts and design management activities to maintain forest health and productivity into the future. These ideas were incorporated into a new NRCS Forest Management Plan for Warren's property.

Project Area

Warren Suchovsky owns 848 acres in Menominee County, MI. His land straddles a general transition zone between a large agricultural area to the east along the Lake Michigan shoreline and a mostly forested landscape to the west. Warren's property includes farm fields and several different forest types, including aspen, northern hardwoods, pine plantations, and extensive lowland conifer areas. This property is also Warren's home as well as the headquarters of his logging operation and family farming activities.

Management Goals

Warren Suchovsky and Rexx Janowiak discussed the Adaptation Workbook at a field visit in December 2013.

As a commercial logger, he appreciates the need to have a sound management plan for his own property.  Mr. Suchovsky’s overall goals include managing the land for sustainable forestry and farming, providing habitat for a variety of songbirds, and protecting riparian and ecological features on the property. Warren worked with Rexx Janowiak, a consulting forester from Green Timber Consulting Foresters, Inc., to prepare a 20-year management plan to satisfy the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) requirements in Michigan. 

Climate Change Impacts

High deer populations and Penn sedge are limiting natural regeneration in Warren's northern hardwood stands.
Warren and Rexx considered broad climate change trends that are expected for Michigan forests and the site conditions across the property. They identified several risks associated with climate change, as well as several opportunities. Some of these include:
There is ongoing decline and mortality in lowland tamarack stands due to eastern larch beetle, so this species may be more vulnerable to future change.
Northern hardwood stands might face additional obstacles due to high deer population levels and Pennsylvania sedge competition in the understory. Deer populations are quite high in this area due to the mixed agricultural landscape.
There is already healthy natural regeneration of red pine and white pine on the property and these species are projected to hold steady across the landscape.
Some species that already exist on the property, such as basswood and northern red oak, are projected to do well under climate change.

Adaptation Actions

After considering the menu of adaptation strategies and approaches from the Adaptation Workbook, Rexx generated several possible adaptation actions for each major forest type on Mr. Suchovsky’s property, ranging from conservative to more aggressive and proactive. Rexx then worked with Warren to select a variety of adaptation actions that suited his management goals and appetite for risk. These recommendations are outlined in the NRCS Management Plan (available below). 

One of the first areas Rexx recommended addressing was a lowland conifer stand. Rexx and Warren developed management recommendations for these stands to help them stay healthy, while encouraging a diversity of species and age classes and favoring a few species that might fare better under future conditions. Here’s what Warren recently did: 

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Lowland Conifers
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Create patch clearcuts throughout the lowland conifer stands to encourage regeneration of tamarack, balsam fir, and black spruce. Having a young age cohort of these species can reduce their overall risk.
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
Retain random leave patches of cedar, black spruce, white pine, and other species to keep an older age cohort and to provide a seed source.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Retain individual white pine throughout the patch clearcuts as seed trees, to gradually increase the proportion of this species. White pine is one of the conifers expected to do well under future climate change.

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

Vigorous white pine regeneration on Warren's property.
Rexx Janowiak (Green Timber) and Warren taking a walk around the property in December 2013.
A lowland conifer stand after harvest, with white pine leave trees and a reserve island.
Harvest operations in one of Warren's lowland conifer stands.

Project Documents

Next Steps

Warren will be busy implementing the recommendations in his management plan for the foreseeable future. Future conditions and forest health issues will determine whether Warren implements some of the more conservative or more progressive adaptation recommendations in the plan.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen

Keywords

Lowland/ wetland conifers, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods, Management plan

Last Updated

Wednesday, November 16, 2016