Guild Gathering and Shortleaf Pine Outreach in Kentucky

This summer the Guild hosted two education and outreach events in Kentucky focused on shortleaf pine ecosystem restoration. The events were part of the Guild’s ongoing program to promote ecological forestry and shortleaf pine ecosystem restoration in the Cumberland Plateau. Both Tennessee and Kentucky have experienced a 70 to 80 percent reduction in acres occupied by shortleaf pine or shortleaf pine-oak forests since 1980, making the species and its associated ecosystem a high priority for restoration efforts in the region. 

On June 29, 2018 the Guild worked with staff at the Daniel Boone National Forest to host a Guild Gathering focused on the theme of shortleaf ecosystem restoration and management. Up to 90 percent of shortleaf pine is estimated to have been lost from the Danial Boone due to severe southern pine beetle epidemics and fire suppression policy. Today, the Daniel Boone National Forest is proposing taking active steps to restore or enhance shortleaf ecosystems through innovative silviculture and prescribed fire. The event brought together natural resource professionals, foresters, environmental nonprofits, and students to discuss opportunities to meet diverse social values by managing for shortleaf pine. Sites visited included a former red-cockaded woodpecker forest, a shortleaf stand improvement site that is proposed to receive a variable density thinning, and a woodland restoration treatment. Joe Marshall from the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium discussed the Consortium’s research on historic fire return intervals on the Cumberland Plateau.

The following day, on June 30, 2018, the Guild helped facilitate another shortleaf event at the Berea College Forest. Berea College owns about 8,000 acres of demonstration forest managed by Guild Professional Member Clint Patterson. The Guild is partnering with Berea College on a project in the Plateau to increase capacity for shortleaf restoration. The event at Berea brought together colleagues at the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, private woodland owners, foresters, and students to discuss shortleaf management options and exemplify best practices. The event highlighted the wildlife habitat benefits of ecological forestry and shortleaf pine management, particularly the benefits of forest gaps for ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus). Field sites included a 20-year-old shortleaf pine planting and a mature hardwood forest that is receiving a femelschlag treatment, with shortleaf planting in the gaps. 

-Written and photos by Nick Biemiller