• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
The Potomac Hunt Club owns 378 acres on their property, 276 of which are forested, including a portion along the Potomac River. The Club is governed by an executive board, who approves the activities on the property. The major goals of the board include maintaining the property for hunting opportunities, ensuring a sustainable timber supply, improving forest health, and protecting water quality. The Maryland Forest Service is working with one of the executive board members to develop a comprehensive land management plan that includes adaptation actions aimed at addressing the goals of the Club as well as key climate change impacts relevant to the project area, which include potential loss of northern-climate tree species, increased periods of drought, and increased pressure from pests and disease.

Project Area

upland oaks
The project area is located in western Maryland, along the Potomac River on the border with West Virginia. The soils are generally thin and shale derived, but are richer along the river. The project has six main stands as focal areas, including a maple-tulip poplar dominated Floodplain Forest, a Dry/Mesic Oak Forest (common to the Central Appalachians), a Mixed Mesophytic and Cove Forest (sheltered topographic positions), a reforested abandoned agricultural field, a pine plantation, and grass-dominated abandoned agricultural field. This demonstration page will focus on two of these areas: The Dry/Mesic Oak Forest system includes two matrix-forming oak-dominated systems that are weakly differentiated but very common in the Central Appalachians. Typical species include white oak, black oak, northern red oak, scarlet oak, red maple, pignut hickory, mockernut hickory, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, chestnut oak, sweet birch, American beech, black gum, tulip tree, and white ash. The Mixed Mesophytic and Cove Forest consists of hardwood or hemlock-hardwoods in sheltered topographic positions, often on concave slopes or in areas with high precipitation. Typical species include sugar maple, white ash, American basswood, yellow buckeye, tulip tree, red maple, eastern hemlock, cucumbertree, American beech, sweet birch, northern red oak, black cherry, mountain magnolia, and black oak.

Management Goals


Dry/mesic oak forest

  • Increase resilience to pest and disease issues.
  • Enable production of a sustainable timber supply for harvest.

    Mixed Mesophytic and Cove Forest

    • Protect water quality from sedimentation and nutrient pollution for both human and wildlife needs.
    • Enable production of a sustainable timber supply for harvest.
    • Maintain a mixture of native cove forest species on the landscape by maintaining cove microsite conditions.


    Dry/mesic oak forest

    • Increase conifer component to 20% on dry, shaley slopes. (10-20 Years)
    • Encourage multiple age classes of oaks through selective harvest. (1-5 Years)
    • Increase non-oak, drought tolerant species component to 30%. (10-20 Years)
    • Maintain oak dominance (50%) on dry, shaley slopes through group selection harvest. (1-5 Years)
    • Retain 70 sq ft basal area of desirable trees for seed source and second harvest while creating gaps of sufficient size to regenerate the oak (1.5-2x canopy height). (1-5 Years)
    • Increase advanced regeneration to 300 stems/acre by controlling deer browse. (1-10 Years)

    Mixed Mesophytic and Cove Forest

    • Retain at least 60 sq ft basal area in stream management zones, preferably exclude logging in areas without mature maple. (1-15 Years) 
    • Maintain native shrub and tree regeneration cover at 60% (current). (1-15 Years)
    • Selectively remove mature sugar maple to create growing space for advanced regeneration. (1-5 Years)
    • Limit harvest of sugar maple to over-mature individuals. (1-15 Years)
    • Plant eastern hemlock along most developed streams to maintain this important native conifer species. (1-15 Years)

    Climate Change Impacts

    For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
    Mean annual temperatures in the Central Appalachians will increase 2-8 °F by the end of the century, with more warming during summer and fall than winter and spring.
    Precipitation in the Central Appalachians is projected to increase in spring but decrease in summer and fall.
    Soil conditions will become drougthy late in the growing season and the risk of wildfire will increase.
    Increases in storm intensity and flooding events have the potential to increase soil erosion and sedimentation within the large stream floodplain and riparian forest ecosystem.
    Invasive species, insect pests, and pathogens in the Central Appalachians will increase or become more damaging.
    Length of time between precipitation events may increase, increasing chances of drought, especially in the summer and fall

    Challenges and Opportunities

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


    Seeding survival will be negatively impacted by drought, deer browse, and flooding events.
    Increased suitability for invasive species will increase competition for native regeneration.
    Most trees that are projected to increase in abundance given future climate conditions in the project area are shade-intolerant.
    Northerly and drought-intolerant species, such as sugar maple, are not projected to do well under future climate change impacts. Regeneration strategies for species within this forest cover type are in conflict with regeneration strategies for oak.
    Regeneration and harvesting strategies for desired species are conflicting, although their areas overlap.
    Hemlock woolly adelgid and increasing temperatures are likely to prevent hemlock establishment in the future.


    More southerly species such as sweetgum, longleaf pine, or shortleaf pine could be introduced to the property or may migrate onto the property under future conditions.
    High quality seed trees are present on-site.
    Increases in warmest days and CO2 concentrations could favor C4 grasses and other plants.
    Oaks are projected to do well and will likely increase in abundance on the property.
    Current conditions are favorable for hemlock regeneration, if browse and competition can be controlled.

    Adaptation Actions

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

    Encourage conversion to shade-tolerant, non-disturbance based species mixtures.
    Implement regeneration techniques including direct seeding, soil scarification, and planting of new and desired species post-harvest.
    Encourage the regeneration of a variety of species through various harvesting methods.
    Retain large, legacy sugar maple when possible, and plant hemlock to retain on the landscape for wildlife and as a conifer component.


    Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
    Species diversity (# of species present)
    Conifer component (as % of stand and overstory)
    Basal Area and size of canopy gaps created by harvests
    Survival of natural regeneration and planted seedlings

    Next Steps

    The Club is moving forward with timber harvests as described in the plan.

    Learn More

    To learn more about this project, contact

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