• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
CJO Property Trust owns 40 acres in Ogemaw county in the north-central part of the lower peninsula of Michigan. The project area is located in a "tension zone", a geographic area that is a transition zone between climatic conditions, and sits at the southern extent of the range for northern hardwoods and boreal species. Increasing annual temperatures and warming in winter months have already impacted regeneration in these forests and has contributed to the decline of aspen and birch. Invasive species, pests, and pathogens have also had a large impact on two forest types in the project area: autumn olive has hindered tree regeneration in Stand 1, and the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has completely removed the tree canopy in Stand 2. Although future trends in climate change impacts may increase potential for drought stress and competition from invasive species, there are opportunities in the project area to increase biodiversity by planting new species and protecting regeneration that may be more adapted to future conditions.

Project Area

Mixed pines and northern hardwoods
The majority of the 40 acres owned by CJO Trust in this location is forested, except for a small patch on the southeastern end. The property has been in the family for several generations, and has been mostly unmanaged, except for early plantings of Scotch pine and use of the property for hunting deer. It was enrolled in 2017 in the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as well as the MI DNR's Qualifed Forest Program, resulting in a 10-year forest management plan, which was adapted to address climate change impacts. There are two main stands included in this project: Stand 1 has the majority of the acreage and is composed mostly of a Dry to Dry-Mesic Mixed Forest community, northern hardwood forest in the mid-to-late successional stage. Soils in this stand consist mainly of deep, well-drained soils formed in sandy and gravelly outwash. Prior to harvest, the dominant canopy tree species consisted of aspen, red maple, and northern pin oak, with a mix of conifers (pines and white spruce). In 2018 there was an initial harvest in this stand, removing mostly decadent aspen and birch, some pines, and firs. Many wildflowers can be found throughout this stand in the spring, including trout lily, creeping strawberry, mayapple, bloodroot, trillium, and spring beauty. Where present, tree regeneration consists mainly of red maple, cherry, and balsam fir, found within the .5-2” diameter classes. Autumn olive and Scotch pine are present in this stand and are considered non-desirable invasive species targeted for removal. Stand 2 occurs on very deep, very poorly drained organic soils, and is classified as wetland under the NWI and MI NFI (Northern Hardwoods Swamp, black ash subtype). Historically dominated by black ash (now dead due to Emerald Ash Borer), the stand currently consists mostly of standing snags, speckled alder, Michigan holly, aspen and white spruce. The understory consists mainly of cattails and other wetland shrubs, grasses, and sedges typical of black ash swamps. There are currently no invasive species noted in Stand 2.

Management Goals

Stand 1 - Dry-Mesic Mixed Forest

Goal 1: Enhance and promote wildlife habitat

Objectives:

  • Maintain recruitment of conifers, red maple, black cherry, and oak species (red oak, burr oak, northern pin oak) as regeneration in the 0.5 - 2" diameter class, in the range of 70 - 90 trees per acre for those species. (3 - 5 years post harvest).
  • Plant seedlings of desired species for future stand development, including red oak, burr oak, aspen, white oak, white pine, white spruce, serviceberry, witch hazel, dogwoods, and apples (~109 trees/shrubs per acre).

Goal 2. Minimize invasive species population

Objective: Eliminate all standing Scotch pine (Pinus sylvenstris) on the property and reduce cover of autumn olive from 30% to <10% cover.

 

Stand 2 - Black Ash Swamp

Goal 1. Enhance and promote wildlife habitat

Objective: Plant seedlings of desired species for future stand development in surrounding areas, including red oak, burr oak, aspen, white oak, white pine, white spruce, serviceberry, witch hazel, dogwoods, and apples (~109 trees/shrubs per acre).

Goal 2. Maintain wetland functions and protect water quality

Objectives:

  • Restore tree cover through planting species likely to survive wetland conditions and be adapted to future climate impacts
  • Monitor the stand for invasive species establishment (Phragmites sp., Phalaris sp.) and document with GPS presence of any found. (1x/year)

Climate Change Impacts

Potential climate change impacts that are of most concern to this project include increasing overall temperatures and growing seasons, with greater warming in the winter months and decreases in snowpack depth. This property is also located in the very southern extent of the range for many northern hardwood species, which will likely exacerbate negative impacts to these species and facilitate transitions to more southern tree species (i.e. oaks).
Northern Michigan temperatures will increase between 2 °F and 8 °F by the end of the century, with more warming during winter.
Northern Michigan's winter snowpack will be reduced from 30-80% by the end of the century.
Northern Michigan's growing season will increase by 30 to 70 days by the end of the century.
Northern Michigan soil moisture patterns will change, with drier soil conditions later in the growing season.
Many invasive species, insect pests, and pathogens in northern Michigan forests will increase or become more damaging by the end of the century.
Northern Michigan's boreal species will face increasing stress from climate change.
Southern or temperate species in northern Michigan will be favored by climate change.
Deer herbivory on preferred species may hinder regeneration.
Some tree species in lowland and riparian hardwood forests are expected to decline by the end of the century (northern white-cedar, black ash, balsam, yellow birch, and paper birch).

Challenges and Opportunities

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

Challenges

Increasing temperatures, growing season length, and time periods between precipitation events may result in increased soil moisture stress and decreased habitat suitability for aspen and other northern forest species.
Decreases in snowpack may result in reductions in thermal cover for wildlife, increases in deer browse pressure, and exposure of tree roots to soil freeze/thaw cycles.
Increasing pressure from invasive species, pests, and pathogens
Continued EAB pressure, lack of tree cover, and alterations to hydrology from changing precipitation patterns and snowpack may prove challenging for maintaining tree cover and hydrologic functions in Stand 2

Opportunities

Increasing tempetures and soil moisture stress could favor jack pine, white pine, and oak species
Opportunities for introduction of more southerly tree species by planting or assisted migration
Many lowland tree species are expected to gain in habitat suitability. If tree species can be established once more in Stand 2, could increase stand diversity.

Adaptation Actions

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

Area/Topic
Approach
Tactics
Dry/Mesic Mixed Forest
Plan selective harvests for uneven-aged stand structure, retaining large conifers (jack pine, white pine, white spruce) and seed trees, and release of desired canopy species
Protect established seedlings (oak sp.) and advanced regeneration (white pine, red maple, black cherry, oaks) by using cones and reducing competition from invasive species
Mechanically remove Scotch pine and use chemical and mechanical means to reduce cover of autumn olive to <10%
Introduce oak species (bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak) and soft mast shrubs (serviceberry, dogwood, arrow-wood, apples) new to the project area through planting

Monitoring

The following monitoring items were identified for future management:
survival and recruitment into size, age, and diameter classes of all tree species and shrubs
full inventory of advanced regeneration on all stands 5 years post-harvest
full inventory of fenced-off/protected flowering shrubs and oaks without a seed source 3 years post-protection
yearly walk-through observations
documentation of location, species, and cover of invasive species

Next Steps

The project lead identified several next steps, including utilizing funds from NRCS programs to:
1. Hire a contractor for mechanical removal of documented locations of autumn olive.
2. Purchase tree seedlings and hire a contractor for planting and cone application for tree species regeneration in Stand 1.
3. Plant tree species for windrow on eastern edge of project area.
4. Plant seedlings of new species in Stand 2 for tree establishment.
5. Restore the open area with native, soft mast shrubs and prairie species.
6. Monitor both stands for invasive species
7. Protect established seedlings and advanced regeneration as necessary from browse.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact
Patricia
.

Keywords

Assisted migration
Forest types
Insect pests
Invasive species
Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods
Management plan
Oak
Planting
Regeneration
Upland conifers
Upland hardwoods
Wetlands
Wildlife habitat

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