• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
The Chicory Lane Farm is a 68-acre legacy farm estate located in productive agricultural valley lands, and protected by a Working Forest Conservation Easement. A consulting forester from Moonlight Forestry Consulting worked with the landowners to develop a management plan for the property which will provide good stewardship opportunities over the short and long term. Landowner goals include restoring forest cover and promoting wildlife species diversity while increasing resilience to a number of potential ecosystem stressors.

Project Area

Aerial map of John and Catherine Smith's Chicory Lane Farm
The Centre County, PA farm includes numerous areas with varying growing conditions, including different soil types, slopes, and moisture levels. In addition to the house and barn, there are approximately 45 acres of a mix of upland hardwood and conifer forest, grasslands, and bottomland shrubland. More than 25 different tree and shrub species were documented during a 2018 field assessment, with 16 species being of commercial value. The forested portions of the property are broken down into 5 management units ranging in size from 7 to 12.5 acres. Hemlock (White Pine)-Northern Hardwoods and Red Oak Mixed Hardwoods can be identified as the predominant forest community types comprising the few patches of mature forest cover that exists within the farm.

Management Goals

Transition from grassland to forest habitat

The landowners have been managing the Chicory Lane Farm since 1974 for preservation and ecological restoration. Visit their website for more information. For the most recent Forest Management Plan, they identified several broad goals for managing the Chicory Lane Farm:

Goal: Increase the percentage of forest cover within the property.

Objective: Increase understory regeneration through recruitment of native seedlings.

Goal: Promote ecological diversity measured in terms of vegetative species abundance.

Objective: Protect desirable vegetation/regeneration to improve establishment.

Goal: Improve the quality and structural complexity of wildlife habitat.

Objective: Create horizontal cover through brush management strategies. Accelerate growth on lower midstory species to increase differences in midstory heights.

Climate Change Impacts

Although each management area will have unique climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, some climate change impacts will affect the whole property (see the Mid-Atlantic Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment for more information):
Temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic are projected to increase 2.2 to 7.6 °F by the end of the century, with the greatest warming expected to occur during summer and fall
The growing season in the Mid-Atlantic is generally expected to increase by 21 days or more by the end of the century, due to fewer days with a minimum temperatures below 32°F.
Forest vegetation may face increased risk of physiological drought during the growing season.
The amount and timing of precipitation will change in the Mid-Atlantic, with projected increases in annual precipitation and potential for reduced growing season precipitation
Intense precipitation events will continue to become more frequent in the Mid-Atlantic.

Challenges and Opportunities

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

Challenges

More frequent and heavier precipitation events may increase the potential for soil erosion and reduce successful seedling establishment. Soil disturbance may also give a competitive advantage to nonnative invasive plants.
Expanding forest cover in the near-term might be more challenging because of current insect threats and diseases (EAB, HWA, DED) that have and continue to result in increased upper canopy tree mortality.
An earlier and potentially wetter Spring in our region could increase the abundance of forage and browse and may promote higher deer populations. Corresponding browse impacts are expected to negatively impact species diversity.

Opportunities

Increased moisture availability and longer growing seasons could improve plant growth and speed up the development of desired forest cover.
Climate change-related disturbances may increase the recruitment of future horizontal cover in the form of coarse woody debris as more upper canopy trees die and eventually blow or fall over.
Based on the property's soil qualities, NRCS recommends favoring some species that are also projected to do well under climate change, including white oak, eastern redbud, and American chestnut.

Adaptation Actions

A consulting forester used the Adaptation Workbook to identify several potential adaptation actions for this project, which both address climate change vulnerabilities and help management objectives, including:

Area/Topic
Approach
Tactics
Northern Hardwoods
Reduce the stocking of hemlock and ash by manually felling all ash and sizeable component of hemlock of poor quality and/or exhibiting signs of significant decline.
Continue with strategic enrichment planting efforts to promote the establishment of diverse tree, shrub, and vine species that are well suited to site conditions, taking into consideration potential climate change impacts.
Central Oak-Pine
Prevent encroachment of undesirable competing plantings throughout the growing space, with emphasis placed on susceptible sites. Use a combination of forestry approved herbicides, mechanical treatments, and manual removal.
Reduce the stocking of hemlock and ash by manually felling all ash and sizeable component of hemlock of poor quality and/or exhibiting signs of significant decline.
Lowland and Riparian Hardwood
Reduce the stocking of hemlock and ash by manually felling all ash and sizeable component of hemlock of poor quality and/or exhibiting signs of significant decline.
Prevent encroachment of undesirable competing plantings throughout the growing space, with emphasis placed on susceptible sites. Use a combination of forestry approved herbicides, mechanical treatments, and manual removal.
Continue with strategic enrichment planting efforts to promote the establishment of diverse tree, shrub, and vine species that are well suited to site conditions, taking into consideration potential climate change impacts.

Monitoring

A consulting forester identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Early detection/suppression of undesirable vegetation. Annually monitor vegetation within the 0-12' zone of the forest by ocular assessment, mapping the presence of existing and/or newly established vegetation both desirable and undesirable.
Annual survival and height growth to assess planting efforts, along with tending to any deer deterrent devices, like tree tubes and stakes.

Next Steps

John and Catherine Smith will continue to plan and implement their Pennsylvania Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Forest Management Plan, incorporating climate change considerations where feasible.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact
Patricia
or visit: