Forest Management

Forest 512 x 289

Earlier in the refuge history the forest was managed to improve habitat for game populations.  An evaluation was done in 1996 to revise the forest management plan to focus more on endangered and threatened species, neotropical migratory birds as well as wildlife dependent recreation.


In 1998, Refuge staff began preparing the new Forest Management Plan The evaluation recommended a refuge forest management program concentrating on the upland forested areas and their potential as habitat for a selected class of priority migratory land birds.  The refuge forest is similar to many of the forests in the region in that it is generally even-aged with near-completely closed canopies. The Plan will seek to create more openings in the canopy, increased groundcover, understory and midstory presence, and larger, more developed canopy crowns. 


The first forest inventory in nearly 40 years was conducted in the summer of 2000. The cruise inventoried timber volumes and forest habitat conditions on 922 acres of the Big Sandy Peninsula.  In nine of the ten delineated mature upland stands, the canopy closures were estimated to be ninety-three percent or more. These nine stands comprised over eighty percent of the mature forested area.

In 2001 the prescribed actions included timber harvesting and controlled burning.  The primary target species of these management actions are the cerulean warbler, wood thrush, worm-eating warbler, Kentucky warbler and hooded warbler. In addition to migratory landbirds, game species such as wild turkey and white-tailed deer, which are valued by refuge hunters and visitors, will benefit from a more diverse forest structure.


There have not been any large-scale forest habitat management activities since the harvest in 2001. A decision was made to suspend harvest activities until sufficient results of the research project were available. In 2006 the refuge lost its forester effectively suspending the forest manangement activities.