"Loving the Land - Laura Olsen Memorial Sanctuary”
Herbicide could be applied judiciously with backpack sprayers to significantly reduce the numbers of multiflora rose, Japanese barberry and bush honeysuckle. Growing spaces for native species would be created once these invasive species were gone. A “worst-first” thinning of diseased ash trees, cut by foresters who were trained in Audubon Forestry for the Birds programs, would introduce sunlight to the forest floor. Log skidding would be done by horses, not machinery. The Board discussed his ideas for several months, as we had lots of concerns, and invited FSF to attend our September 2018 Board meeting. We bombarded them with questions. How many trees would be cut? Could we list certain beloved trees as off-limit to cutting? How would we keep ATVs off the property once there was an access road? What is the cost of spraying invasive species? Was the herbicide safe? Wouldn’t the forest floor be ruined by horses? How would the property look after the spraying and tree cutting? Guy and Annie patiently answered our questions, and after more discussion at the November Board meeting, we voted in favor of accepting their proposals.
We signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2019. But the weather that year was not conducive to tree-cutting; the ground never dried out enough to allow horses to be able to come in without damaging the forest floor. That delay worked to our benefit, as some members of Presque Isle Audubon had misgivings about this project. At the February 2020 PIAS program for all members, Annie and Guy explained how their philosophy of sustainable forestry fosters native plants, increases tree age and species diversity, and improves the overall health of our region’s forests. The members responded enthusiastically to their presentation and expressed comfort in having the Sanctuary in such capable hands.
Finally, in early 2020, diseased ash trees were cut and removed, and in the spring months invasive plants were sprayed. I was leery about visiting the property afterwards, as FSF had warned us that LOMS would look “changed.” In late July I decided it was my duty to check it out, however reluctant I may be. Walking in, I was simultaneously pleased and relieved. Stumps were here and there, but not many. I didn’t see any deep skid marks. The wood thrush and scarlet tanager were still singing. It really didn’t look changed in any major way. The biggest difference was the new gravel road leading a bit into the woods.
Now we’re looking forward to 2021, to see how the birds respond to these changes. Over time, we’re expecting LOMS to be a demonstration site, with tours led by FSF, as they show other woodland owners how a managed forest can be beautiful, healthy, and of course, sustainable.
“This article was taken from the Fall/Winter newsletter of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests”