The need for increased commercial timber harvest is at an all-time high. The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS & AWS) were encouraged to see a recent highlight addressing this critical issue for providing diverse, healthy forest habitat for abundant wildlife.
RGS & AWS and our members are working hard to address the dire conditions facing ruffed grouse in the Southern Appalachians. Supporting and enhancing sustainable, appropriate commercial timber harvest on these federal lands is among the most important steps to take. A Stewardship Agreement that is currently being drafted will allow us to assist with implementing commercial timber harvest projects for forest restoration and enhancement of wildlife habitat on over 517 acres of the Clinch Ranger District of the Jefferson National Forest.
On the George Washington National Forest, The RGS H.C. Edwards Chapter has provided volunteer support and funding – in addition to resources committed from the Virginia RGS Drummer Fund – to enhance grouse habitat on the Grove Hollow Young Forest Habitat Enhancement Project. The Grove Hollow project is enhancing habitat across approximately 240 acres of regeneration timber harvests that were previously implemented on the George Washington National Forest. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) are additional partners on this project, being carried out through a Participating Agreement between RGS and the North River Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service.
RGS member and volunteer support has been essential to keep the Grove Hollow work moving. Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, site preparation occurred last fall to allow for additional work to get underway when conditions are appropriate this spring. That upcoming work will enhance food resources for ruffed grouse, turkeys, white-tailed deer, rabbits, and numerous nongame species, and provide potential woodcock singing grounds and summer roosting fields.
With the planning that was completed for the North Shenandoah Mountain Management and Restoration Project on June 6, 2020, the Grove Hollow Project Participating Agreement creates the potential for continued wildlife habitat enhancement on sites of future commercial timber harvest, prescribed burning, and clearing development that will occur for years to come.
Wayne Thacker, Chairman of the Virginia Wildlife Habitat Coalition and RGS Life Member, says it best in the article:
“…harvests are essential for restoring the forest to a natural diversity essential to overall forest health and resiliency.”
And that’s exactly what the RGS & AWS new model of forest conservation delivery aims for: forest health and resiliency through landscape-scale improvement.
More details to come. To get future updates, sign up for our email list.