Managing your woodlands for wildlife topic of upcoming free workshop

Jim Freeman In The Open

September 8, 2013

We’ve all heard the old expression about “missing the forest for the trees,” in other works being so bogged down in the fine details that you may fail to see the big picture, however the opposite can literally be true, especially for woodland landowners: it is easy to miss the trees for the forest.

A typical scenario goes like this: based on a cursory examination a person finally manages to purchase their forty acres of heaven right here in forested southeastern Ohio. Only later do that they discover their beautiful woods weren’t really that much of an investment. The previous owners have high-graded the timber, selling everything of value leaving only poor-quality trees behind to mature, or perhaps there are lots of invasive species – namely Tree of Heaven – or the woods are overrun with grave vine.

So what is a landowner to do? If he or she is interested in wildlife, for either hunting or watching, there is still plenty of life in those played out woods.

“Managing Your Woodlands for Wildlife” will be the topic of a free forestry workshop for woodland landowners to be held Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Meigs SWCD Conservation Area. The event is sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry.

ODNR service forester Perry Brannan will cover several topics including: How will your woods change over time? How does wildlife use different types of woods? Which trees are good for timber and which are good for wildlife? Old fields and forest succession. Do I mow or let it grow? He will also discuss basic tree identification.

Carrie Crislip, NRCS district conservationist for Meigs County, will also have information on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for forestry and wildlife, and other wildlife or other subject-matter experts may be on hand for questions.

Participants enrolled in the Ohio Forest Tax Law Program can receive two continuing education credits for attending this workshop.

In a way, the Conservation Area is an ideal location for this workshop because it closely fits the aforementioned scenario. It consists of 174-acres of assorted woodland and old field habitats and had been heavily logged and strip-mined in the past. Old pastures have grown into poor-quality woodlands for timber but are still of value for wildlife.

The event will be held rain or shine and participants should anticipate a woodland hike on the one-and-a-half mile Pauline Atkins Trail and dress accordingly. The Meigs SWCD Conservation Area is located on New Lima Road between Rutland and Harrisonville and boasts a large shelterhouse with plenty of picnic tables, ample parking and latrines.

For more information contact the Meigs SWCD/NRCS office at 740-992-4282 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel and can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 ext. 109 or at