Proceedings of Workshop 1: Pinelands, Plantations and Wildlife
Friends of Myles Standish State Forest (MSSF)
Resource Management Plan Workshop
Pinelands, Plantations and Wildlife
November 10, 2010
DCR Staff in Attendance: Andy Backman, Jim Baecker, Brian Shanahan, Paul Gregory, Amy Wilmot, Heather Warchalowski
Discussion Leaders: Andy Backman, Jim Baecker, Paul Gregory, Irina Kadis, Kathleen Anderson, Wayne Petersen, John Crane, Melissa Guimont, Glenn d’Entremont, Sharl Heller
Public Attendees: Richard Thorne, David Dimmick, Jim Nelson, Rolland Cloutier, Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Dan Fortier, Laureen Regan, Colleen Preston, Bill Vickstrom, Preston Woodburn, Paula Cheverie, Mack Phinney, Rose Mellino, Connor Crane
Sharl Heller, President Friends of MSSF opened meeting at 7 p.m. - Welcome and self-introductions.
Andy Backman, Director of Regional Planning DCR – Pre-Colonial Climax Forest and DCR Forest Reserve Designation
- 1984 study of vegetation and fire history of MSSF. Sediment cores reveal area was covered in white pine and oak in 17th century.
Increased fire in 1800’s allowed pitch pine component of area to dominate, leading to ecosystem today.
- MSSF designated as a Forest Reserve in 2006 managed for biological diversity.
- Requires active management in the form of prescribed burning to maintain the rare pine barrens ecosystem.
- Under new FFVP designation, MSSF won’t change it’s status as a Reserve.
Handout: Myles Standish State Forest – From the Ice Age to the Present, William A Paterson III and Andrew E. Backman
Paul Gregory, DCR Management Forester – MSSF Vegetation Mapping and Forest Health
- Displayed MSSF map of vegetative regions depicting the pitch pine forests, plantations and the “experimental” plantings done at various times that have had no apparent follow up.
- DCR Forest Health Supervisor has given MSSF a good report; Gypsy moth and Winter moth apparent but not out of control.
- The Red pine stands are very susceptible to red pine scale and Diplodia and it is only a matter of time before they get one or both.
- Harvard Forest has more information on core sampling.
- Referred to Backman's study above.
- Bill Vickstrom asked if DCR plans to remove plantations. Paul replied that any removal of plantation trees would happen only after the DCR Forest Future Visioning Process is completed.
- Irina Kadis commented that Scotch pine in MSSF is full of holes and must be targeted by an organism. Suggested that DCR investigate what is happening to Scotch pine.
See DCR Public Meetings Forest Futures Visioning Process
Bob Bale, Fire Manager, The Nature Conservancy – Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak Forest Habitat Management Recommendations
- Pitch pines are amazing trees, lots of character, very hardy, much variety in form and adaptable.
- MSSF should be managed for maximum biodiversity. Harvest out plantations and protect frost bottoms.
- Plymouth pinelands is 3rd largest area in the world. New Jersey and Long Island are larger in area but neither has a forest management program to maintain the pine barrens. Great opportunity for progressive management to maintain biodiversity.
- Global climate change predictions - more intense fire season, winters warmer, increase in precipitation but more intense droughts. Growing season will expand.
- Severe wildfire endanger the public. Management of pine barrens is important for public safety, yet the same management compliments and enhances biodiversity.
- MSSF is different from most reserves where no management is desirable. Pine barrens need more and frequent disturbance either through mechanical means or by use of fire.
- Forest is hazardous, understory growth is very high at present. A fire now would be uncontrollable and high intensity. Need to reduce fuel and thin out canopy near developments to reduce crown fire potential.
- Scrub oak should be mowed every five to seven years.
- Use mechanical means to make prescribed fires safer.
- Overtime and with consistency there is a significant cost reduction in the management of fire-prone areas.
See TNC “Fire Starter - Why We Burn in North America”
Wayne Petersen, Director of the Mass Audubon Society Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program – Important Bird Area (IBA) Project in MSSF
- Speaking about science regarding landscape level habitat with priorities and criteria for birds only.
- Introduced the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program
- MSSF is one of 79 IBA in MA, containing State or Federally listed species protected by the The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) under the MA Endangered Species Act.
- Cited: “State of the Birds in the United States 2009” – 67 species of birds are endangered, 184 listed as concerned, indicate health of the environment; State Wildlife Plan
- Cited Trevor Lloyd-Evans’ Manomet Center for Conservation Science Bird Survey from 1972. All contain valuable information on birds for MSSF.
- 30-year-old plantations in MSSF are not prolific. Burned areas enrich bird life if not too extensive.
Handout: Mass Audubon IBA brochure
Kathleen Anderson, Founding Director, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences – Managing the Forest for Native Birds
- What improves the forest for one species may be detrimental to another!
- For some species, periodic burning is essential.
- 5-acre burns are not large enough. Within a few years fuel loads are hot enough to kill even pitch pines.
- Prairie warbler populations in MSSF are more dense than anywhere else in the world.
- If the goal is to Manage for uncommon birds then burn ¼ of the forest every 30 years, ¼ growing, and ¼ mature and ready to burn, ¼ managed for safe camping, recreation and staff buildings.
Hand out: Bird Habitat Recommendations for MSSF, Kathleen S. Anderson, 11/10/10
Glenn d’Entremont, South Shore Bird Club, Friends of MSSF – Pine Barrens Bird Survey
- Conducted bird surveys in MSSF for 25 to 30 years. Nominated MSSF as an IBA. Observing a decrease in many species of birds.
- 20% of MA Whippoorwills are in MSSF.
- No Bobwhite anymore, possibly due to coyotes or that the forest is growing up.
- Pine warblers are replacing Prairie Warblers.
- Need research on Barn owls, which are state listed, to see if they will take to big bird boxes.
- Recommendation: manage forest to increase the numbers of state listed birds.
Handouts: MSSF bird survey maps from 1991-2 and a handwritten copy of bird sightings from 1991-95, 2002-3 and 2008-9
Melissa Guimont – FMSSF Native Bird Support Group Recommendations for Management
- Educate the public about native birds in MSSF through signs and outreach programs. Post signs alerting the public at IBAs.
- Educate DCR Staff of locations of IBAs and nesting areas.
- Increase numbers of bird boxes for various species. Use volunteers to monitor bird boxes.
- Establish nesting platforms for osprey at Fearing Pond.
- Conserve sites with priority species such as whippoorwills, prairie warblers, American kestrels and bluebirds.
- Maintain IBA such as grasslands and frost pockets by restricting recreational use dependent on seasons. Conduct an invasive plant elimination program.
- Collaborate with MassWildlife for proper maintenance of Cutter’s Field, especially regarding the removal of invasive plants.
- Educate landowners about habitat enhancement through participation in native plant and bird enrichment programs.
- Promote native plant propagation and reintroduction within MSSF for the benefit of native birds.
- Allow controlled burns during times of non-breeding for birds of concern.
- Educate others about the results of planting invasive flora that will damage natural habitat that birds require.
- Educate other of natural landscaping and pest control to prevent decreased bird populations due to chemical poisoning.
Handouts: Resource Management Plan Focus Group: Native Birds in MSSF
Native Bird Events 2010 at MSSF
John Crane, Environmental Consultant – Native Wildlife Management
Spent 39 years in forest observing wildlife.
- Whippoorwills probably displaced by coyotes that are newly arrived in the area since the 1970s.
- Get rid of plantations - “chip and ship”.
- Fire breaks create habitat for grassland birds, milk snakes and frogs.
- Keep white pine for bird habitat.
- Letting nutrients build up on forest floor and leaving it alone is setting up up disaster. Manage for fire in the NE corner and along Mast Road.
Irina Kadis, Arnold Arboretum – Rare Plant and Frost Pocket Protection, Invasive Plant Control
- Categorize and prioritize invasive plants in MSSF.
- Offering an “Invasive Plant Data Collector” on the internet where volunteers can log invasive plant sightings in MSSF using GPS coordinates.
- Key to controlling invasive plants is early detection, requires education and reporting. Create large photographs of invasive plants on a watch list and post them for DCR staff and the public so they know what to look for. Three categories of invasive plants:
- Invasive plants not in MSSF—for which we need to watch.
- Recent invaders—ones we can deal with now while it is possible—Oriental bittersweet, Norway maple (little grove that will soon spread), glossy buckthorn (upland and wetland, collect information , map and eliminate, while in low quantities; growing with rare plants at the northern side of East Head Reservoir), garlic mustard.
- Invasive plants well established—Autumn olive (source of infestation is Mass Wildlife fields and abutters). Powerlines are vectors for invasive plants, Japanese lespedeza, so far only found in disturbed habitat, Norway spruce, not state-listed by should go on list (potential to destroy frost pockets). Begin program to cut Norway spruce for Christmas trees.
- Make blazing star the signature plant of MSSF. It is rare because it is being mowed too early. Arrange mowing schedule to promote blazing star: mow at the end of November.
- Broom crowberry: MSSF contains the only population outside of Cape Cod; needs fire management, protection from off-highway vehicles.
- Alien Pines Introduced to MSSF
Handouts: Suggestions for Invasive Plant Management, Irina Kadis and Alexey Zinovjev
Illustrated Checklist of MSSF Plants, Irina Kadis and Alexey Zinovjev
Report on Carolina fanwort in the East Head Reservoir (click "next" to view all three pages) Irina Kadis and Alexey Zinovjev
Comments from the Public
- Grouse need native grasses, clear area for fire safety but save the timber.
- Boy Scout properties, Camp Cachalot and Camp Squanto have conservation plans, mechanical control, bird boxes and whippoorwills. Camp Cachalot is 700 acres. DCR should coordinate the MSSF RMP with the Scout conservation plans.
- Mowing creates duff accumulation, taking the soils further from the mineral soil characteristic of pine barrens. It is important to burn at different times of the year. Use mechanical means to set up safe burns. Fire is essential to pitch pine.
- A good source for information on biodiversity is BioMap2 put out by MassWildlife
Meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
You are a Stakeholder If you have special knowledge about any aspect of the forest, or if you have a "vision" for its future. Everyone who loves MSSF is a stakeholder! To have your name or your group added to the MSSF Stakeholder List, send your contact information to email@example.com, or to Jim Baecker, Office of Regional Planning, MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, 617-626-1355, Jim.Baecker@state.ma.us.
Friends of MSSF Workshops Planned To Encourage Greater "Stakeholder" Participation
Friends of MSSF is hosting five focus groups to help DCR bring in as much information as can be found among people and groups who have local knowledge or data, or even a "vision" to contribute to the Resource Management Plan (RMP). Please try to attend the workshops in your area/s of interest. DCR staff with expertise in the 5 areas listed below will be on hand to engage with stakeholders in discussions and information sharing. Your input at these gatherings will make a difference! The workshops will be held in the MSSF Conference Building (across the street from the MSSF headquarters).
View the meeting reminder and the agenda for the Nov. 10 Workshop - Pinelands, Plantations and Wildlife
The DCR Resource Management Plan public presentation and all pertinent information is now available on DCR’s website
DCR's public presentation October 28, 2010: The Myles Standish State Forest Resource Management Planning Process (includes friends photos!)
Letter regarding the MSSF Resource Management Plan planning process from Priscilla Geigis, Assistant Commissioner/Director of State Parks and Recreation, November 4, 2010
DCR SCHEDULES PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS DEVELOPMENT OF A RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR MYLES STANDISH STATE FOREST
DCR's Resource Management Plan Briefing
Preliminary Draft of Myles Standish State Forest Management Issues