Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region

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Forestry Habitat Management

Foresters at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge work year round to conserve and manage one of the largest contiguous stands of bottomland hardwoods in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Some of the current strategies being used on the Refuge include restoration by reforestation, controlling non-native plant species, and thinning existing forest stands.

Reforestation is conducted on lands throughout the Refuge. Native bottomland hardwood trees are planted in areas where needed to restore habitat once known to the area. Up to twenty different bottomland hardwood tree species may be planted on a given site to ensure habitat diversity. Areas may be hand-planted or machined-planted using tree seedlings. Firebreaks are also established in and around the perimeters of the reforested areas to help prevent wildfires.

Area being hand-planted to bottomland hardwood tree species on Tensas River National Wildlife. Credit: USFWS
Area being hand-planted to bottomland hardwood tree species on Tensas River National Wildlife. Credit: USFWS
  Area being machine-planted to bottomland hardwood tree species on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
Area being machine-planted to bottomland hardwood tree species on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

 

Some exotic species exist on the Refuge. Currently, control methods are being implemented to reduce and eliminate invasive exotic vegetation with the emphasis on Chinese tallow and trifoliate orange.

The majority of the existing Refuge forests are in a closed or nearly-closed canopy condition, which generally limits habitat diversity. Forest management is the most effective and efficient management tool for providing quality wildlife habitat. Before management decisions are made, an inventory of forest stands is conducted to evaluate the current habitat conditions and determine which areas need to be treated or thinned. The areas selected are designated and all trees to be thinned are marked with blue paint. A logging operation will take place to remove the trees that are marked. This is conducted under the direct supervision of the Refuge foresters. The treatments are a combination of single-tree selection, group selection, and patchcuts. The objective of the thinnings is to reduce canopy closure which will allow sunlight penetration to the forest floor and increase production of herbaceous vegetation on the ground layer. This provides excellent food and cover for many wildlife species.

Timber being marked to thinned on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
Timber being marked to thinned on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
  Area being thinned on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
Area being thinned on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge.

Credit: USFWS

 

 

Last updated: August 29, 2013