wind damage

In northern Maine, forestry practices create shifting habitat for migrating songbirds – Press Herald

TOWNSHIP 4, Differ 14 — After flying from Central America this spring, a small, yellowish musiccho…….

TOWNSHIP 4, Differ 14 — After flying from Central America this spring, a small, yellowish musicchook referred to as a mourning warbler housed in on a patch of forest northeast of Moosehead Lake and decided it was The biggest place To discover a mate And enhance a househprevious.

This patch Is not any wildlife refuge. 5 or so yrs in the past, loggers harvested A lot of the timber, leaving a tangle of branches and trunks. Now waist-extreme maples and alders, raspberry bushes and ferns are rising amid the slash. It’s The proper habitat for this warbler, a secretive chook that likes to nest shut to The underside, eat bugs and spiders and is extra frequently heard than seen.

Almost 30 yrs in the past, a group of chook evaluationers acquired here to this land to conduct The primary huge-scale research of the influence Of financial forestry on chook populations in America. On the time, An monumental paper agency was Wiskinny The tactic of clearreduceting 15,000 acres. That’s an space The measurement of Manhattan.

The Ragmuff Clearreduce, identifyd for a stream and road bearing the identify, was ugly and disturbing to many people. However migrating musicchooks Similar to a Outcome of the mourning warbler, a species that has been declining in Maine, Based mostly on breeding chook surveys, didn’t Appear to thoughts.

A scientific survey of chook populations throughout 1 million acres of working forest led evaluationers to what wAs a Outcome of then a surprising conclusion: Slicing dpersonal timber isn’t primarily dangerous for chooks – As prolonged As a Outcome of the harvesting was Occurring throughout A huger panorama the place the Kinds of tree and age class have been continuously altering over time.

That cas quickly aspt acquired here to be Usually acknowledged as a “shifting mosaic.” It extremelighted the position Of financial forestry practices in conserving biodiversity, because healthful chook populations are an indicator Of A a lot hugeger, healthful environment for wildlife.

Chestnut-sided warbler Photograph courtesy of Maine Audubon/Ariana van den Akker

Completely different musicchooks thrive in A quantity of Kinds of forests. The remark that enterprise forestry and breeding musicchooks might coexist was important for Maine. Roughly 10 million acres – half the state’s land mass – was a contiguous working forest punctuated by sparse enhancement.

That’s nonetheless true in 2021. Maine’s North Woods reprimarys The Most very important uninterrupted tract of forest east of the Mississippi River. And as extra land is developed in Maine and elsethe place, The power Of financial forests To current a welcoming summer time house for musicchooks will Find your self to be Much extra very important for retaining biodiversity.

An aerial photo from 1993, under, reveals dramatic modifications in a 15,000-acre tract Of financial woodenland northeast of Moosehead Lake. The Ragmuff Clearreduce, As a Outcome of it’s acknowledged, mirrored forestry practices of the Nineteen Eighties.

Below, The identical space in 2021. Right now, A lot of the land is reforested and Wiskinny the early levels of being skinnyned by new landpersonalers. Researchers are researching the influence Of adjusting forestry practices on migrating musicchooks, in a nationally vital nesting space.


In 2019, a landmark research revealed Wiskinny the journal Science concluded that the Number of chooks in North America had fallen genperiodl by shut toly 30 % since 1970, a decline of shut toly 3 billion chooks in 50 yrs.

Right now, the Nationwide Audubon Society has recognized 17.8 million acres of forest in western and northern Maine as The Most very important “Important Bird Area” Wiskinny the contiguous Usa, As properly as to a prime worldwide precedence for conservation.

And the placeas Indirectly tied to chook habitat, this in depth woodenland acts like An monumental sponge that assists Take in A minimal of 60 % of the state’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, a essential buffer in the direction ofs the influences of local climate change. Maine’s Climate Movement Plan names for creating incentives To enhance carbon storage by way of forest administration practices, and a process strain Now’s Taking A look at that problem for small to midmeasurement landpersonalers.

Against this againdrop, The important skinnyg evaluationers who carried out the 1992 work have Get back to Maine.

They’ve begun A 3-yr, $300,000 research Aimed in the direction of repeating the survey work they did three many yrs in the past. They name it the “Thirty-Year Bird Study: Changes in forest practices and chook populations in Maine’s enterprise forest: 1992-2022.”

The evaluationers Want to see which chook populations have enhanced or declined, And the method these modifications examine with areaal and national trfinishs. In cas quickly asrt with landpersonalers, Additionally they Want To Search out out whether or not A pair of of today’s forest administration practices Could be nice-tuned for The Benefit of each chooks and timber current.

“What we’re making an try to do is To place this enterprise panorama Right into a national perspective,” said John Hagan, an ornithologist and senior adviser on the enterprise.

A logging crew clears a 13-acre tract of fir and spruce timber in Maine’s North Woods on July 21. The stand is in an space the place timber are Susceptible to wind damage, so foresters with Huber Assets Corp. who handle the land decided To reduce the timber now. The timber have been sure for Moose River Lumber Co. in Jackman to be made into two-by-fours. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Hagan is The earlier president of Manomet Inc., a nonprofit conservation and evaluation group with workplaces in Brunswick and Plymouth, Massachusetts. He lives in Georgetpersonal and now focuses on local climate change factors.

Over a two-day interval in July, Hagan led a tour Of financial forestland, harvesting opperiodtions and chook survey ptons in an space located roughly between the northeast tip of Moosehead Lake and Chesuncook Lake. That is typinamey a distant area bisected by logging roads and streams, punctuated by ponds and wetlands. Right here, a full spectrum of how timber is dealt with in Maine’s spruce-fir northern exhaustingwooden forest is on current, collectively with clearreduces.

Hagan Desired to confront the paradox of clearreduces 30 yrs in the past, when a forester first took him Right into an adjoining logging opperiodtion. In a covperiodge paper he wrote in 1996, Hagan referred to as it an “appalling sight” that left him disoriented.

However when his area crew starting surveying The world in 1992, they found the scrubby space Full of chooks.

He wrote: “Most of the species that used these habitats have been species of conservation cas quickly asrn (e.g., chestnut-sided warbler, widespread yellowthroat, American kestrel, Lincoln’s sparrow, mourning warbler …). Clearreduces Weren’t the organic deserts I had thought. My very personal knowledge demanded that I confront my precas quickly asptions.”

In July, Hagan was nonetheless struck by the distinction when he in contrast an aerial photo of the Ragmuff Clearreduce in 1993 with a drone shot he took this yr. Twenty-eight yrs later, A lot of the 15,000 as quickly as-denuded spaces Wiskinny the clearreduce are coated with standing timber. It has Find your self to be Definitely one of many hugest tracts of mid-age forest in Maine.

“Clearreduces develop again in Maine,” Hagan said.

Thirty yrs after main a landmark research of how forestry in northern Maine influences migrating chooks in North America, John Hagan and evaluationers are again on the land To look at how modifications in land possession and forestry practices are influenceing chook populations. Nationwide Audubon has designated Maine’s enterprise forests as The Most very important “Important Bird Area” Wiskinny the contiguous U.S. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographgrapher

LOSS, CHANGE AND Alternative

A combination Of skinnygs have altered the situation of Maine’s enterprise forests over the previous 30 yrs, and the chook habitats They current.

For starters, huge clearreduces are a skinnyg of the previous. Public outrage over photographs Similar to a Outcome of the Ragmuff opperiodtion triggered a hotly contested referfinishum to ban clearreduces in 1996. The measure was defeated, However it put the enterprise on discover and led to stricter state legal guidelines, Similar to a Outcome of the Maine Forest Practices Act, which limits clearreduces to 250 acres.

Large clearreduces have been changed by partial harvesting opperiodtions. That has Outcomeed In further acres being reduce Yearly to feed lumber and paper mills.

Driving the modifications in silviculture, the time period for tree cultivation practices, is a shift in who personals the Maine Woods.

Maine’s historic, vertinamey constructed-in timber corporations such as Good Northern Paper and its successor, Bowater Inc., personaled the Ragmuff land. Those corporations Not exist. Nor do the paper mills they currentd in Millinocket and East Millinocket.

Of their place acquired here a fragmented possession of timber funding administration groups and Individuals with different goals and briefer monetary time horizons. They have been extra More probably To reduce on A ten-yr cycle, For event, so timber didn’t get huge enough to assist chook species that Want to nest in mature forests with shutd canopies.

On The identical time, the market transition gave conservation pursuits a as quickly as-in-a-period opportunity To buy and protect huge tracts of what had been working forest.

South of the tpersonalship, the Appalachian Mountain Membership purchased 70,000 acres in 2003 from International Paper Co. for its Maine Woods Initiative. The group is elevating money now To buy 27,000 further acres from an funding fund. Some of this land is being sustainably harvested, but different tracts will develop into ecologinamey important mature forest.

On the japanese shore of Moosehead Lake, the state was In a place to buy 4,242 acres in 2002 that comprise Big Spencer Mountain and mature exhaustingwooden stands that haven’t been reduce In further than a century. Right now, the parcel is An factor of the state’s ecological reserve system.


These modifications are evident today throughout the panorama northeast of Moosehead Lake, as is the cas quickly aspt of a shifting mosaic of dealt with forestland. In July, foresters from LandVest, Huber Assets Corp. and Weyerhaeuser Co. provided to explaWiskinny their administration practices on A pair of of the land being surveyed by the chook evaluationers.

In a single part of the previous Ragmuff Clearreduce, a thicket of balsam fir is Taking over. Foresters disparagingly name this a “canine-hair stand.” The timber are so shut collectively that A particular person can barely squeeze by way of the branches. It’s shut toly darkish inside.

However musicchooks that nest On this habitat, such as gpreviousen-crpersonal kinglets and bay-breasted warblers, Simply like the shut quarters. They’ve been noticed by the enterprise’s area crew – Jonah Levy, a Tufts College graduate scholar, and Kelsi Anderson, a organic evaluationer from Colorado.

Standing Wiskinny the dense woodens final month, the evaluationers talked about how this stand currents the meals nesting chooks rely on, such as spider eggs and moth cocoons. Levy found an inchworm on the forest flooring and look atd it.

“There Want to be The proper of meals for them here,” he said. “The nesting season is so brief, They need to discover The biggest meals To Increase their youthful.”

Levy and Anderson have come to know this land properly. While chooks have been nameing and Looking for mates in Might and June, the duo carried out predawn chook surveys on An complete of 120 websites.

Field evaluationer Jonah Levy makes his method by way of a thicket of balsam fir, disparagingly Knpersonal as a “canine-hair stand” by foresters, on July 20 in an space of Maine’s North Woods that was An factor of A forty five,000-acre clearreduce Wiskinny the late Nineteen Eighties Usually acknowledged As a Outcome of the Ragmuff Clearreduce. While some chook species choose the thick habitat, the density of the small timber makes it difficult for foresters to thWiskinny the timber To permit most properly-appreciated species to mature. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographgrapher

Professional chookers don’t need to see a chook to decide it. They do A lot of their work by ear, listening and recording knowledge inside a set radius.

The outcomes Of these so-referred to as level relys Could be in contrast with knowledge from 1992. Subsequent yr, A a lot hugeger area crew will survey 3 events as many websites Wiskinny the Moosehead Lake space, to coincide with the work carried out three many yrs earlier.

With The objective relys carried out, The sector crew was returning in July to the websites to conduct vegetation surveys, documenting the Kinds of tree on the land, their age packages and cover traits. Levy and Anderson used a tape measure to outline the plot surearies. They sighted by way of a hypsometer, a forestry instrument that calculates peak, To Search out out how tall the timber have been. This intypeation is transferred to coded maps.

Although some chooks may choose nesting in a canine-hair stand, it’s a difficult place for foresters, said Jim O’Malley, northern Maine areaal forester for LandVest.

Ornithologist John Hagan walks out of a stand of softwooden timber, dominated by tall black spruce, aprolongedside the Gpreviousen Road in Maine’s North Woods on July 20. This Sort of stand is The favored habitat for the blackburnian warblers because They Want to nest in extreme tree canopies. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

LandVest is managing this parcel For An group personaled by Peter Buck, co-Founding father of the quick-meals chain Submethod. Buck, a South Portland native and Bowdoin School graduate, personals Greater than 1.2 million acres in Maine and is the relyry’s seventh-hugest particular personal landpersonaler, Based mostly on The Land Report.

O’Malley has been trying some skinnyning Wiskinny The world, However the thick stands make it exhausting. This stand Is furtherly vulnerIn a place to damaging bugs, notably the spruce budworm, so he’s contemplating decisions.

“Can we proceed to skinny, or do we reduce it exhausting and reset the clock?” O’Malley said.


The canine-hair stand Could be very different from the one O’Malley went to next, a few miles amethod off the Gpreviousen Road. That is typinamey a mature softwooden stand, dominated by tall black spruce. Dappled daylight penetrates the understory, permitting small balsam fir and maple saplings to spring up.

Blackburnian warbler Photograph courtesy Maine Audubon/Ariana van den Akker

Blackburnian warblers, acknowledged For his or her flaming orange throats and their prolonged journeys from South America, like this habitat. They spfinish their time here extreme Wiskinny The cowl.

O’Malley launched aprolongedside an increment borer, a forestry system used to extract wooden tproblem from the core of a tree. After screwing Wiskinny the shaft, he pulled it out and relyed the rings. This tree is 85 yrs previous.

“This is prime noticed log and stud wooden now,” he said.

On shut toby land dealt with by Huber and personaled by Buck’s agency, a logging crew was clearreduceting 13 acres of 40-yr-previous spruce and fir. The stand is in an space Susceptible to wind damage, so foresters decided To reduce it now.

The harvest is A 3-particular person opperiodtion. It started with a feller buncher, a Motor car with A huge arm and rotary noticed that reduce timber and stacked them As a Outcome of it moved by way of the stand. Behind the feller buncher, a processor immediately stripped the branches. Then a logger driving a forwarder typeed the pile with a grapple and carried the timber to a roadside pile. The logs will Wind up at Moose River Lumber Co. in Jackman and Find your self to be two-by-fours.

Black-and-white warbler Photograph courtesy of Maine Audubon/Ariana van den Akker

This small clearreduce is adjoining to mid-age forest. Warblers and different chooks that nest shut toby may fatten up Previous to fall migration on the raspberries and blueberries Which will emerge.

Huber handles 650,000 acres in Maine. Most of its consumers need their land harvested in a sustainable method, Based mostly on Trevor London, Huber’s director of opperiodtions. The well being of chooks, which eat large portions of bugs collectively with Individuals who damage some timber, are An factor of the administration equation.

“It’s important for our consumers to opperiodte with Definitely one of the biggest evaluation out there,” London said.

White-throated warbler Photograph courtesy of Maine Audubon/Pam Wells

The tour quickly acquired here onto a logging road north of Kokadjo, next to land That seems like a Christmas tree farm. It’s a spruce and fir stand dealt with by Weyerhaeuser. The agency personals 850,000 acres in Maine, half of it round Moosehead Lake.

Sixteen yrs in the past, Plum Creek Timber Co. introduced plans to create house tons and a retype on 17,000 acres Across the lake. Weyerhaeuser, which acquired Plum Creek in 2015, has since abancarried outd these plans.

In a few yrs, the agency expects to conduct what’s referred to as pre-enterprise skinnyning here. This method removes small progress to space out the stand, so the reprimarying timber can get Large enough To Wind up to be lumber. That will probably happen in 25 yrs or so.

Foresters here furtherly had Put aside some huge timber and woodened patches Which will Pertype perches for chooks. Through the go to, Levy heard the names of a music sparrow and Lincoln’s sparrow, which forage for seeds and bugs on The underside. Then the group noticed A sharp-shinned hawk gliding overhead. Sparrows, beware: This small raptor Is understood to swoop dpersonal and catch musicchooks in midair.

Ornithologist John Hagan, left, and area evaluationer Kelsi Anderson examine maps on their telephone and capsule earlier than getting Right into a forested space for a vegetation survey on July 21 with Jonah Levy, proper. Thirty yrs after a landmark research of how forestry practices in northern Maine influence migrating chooks in North America, evaluationers are again on the land To look at modifications in land possession, forestry practices and chook populations.  Gregory Rec/Staff Photographgrapher


As this yr’s area work winds dpersonal, Hagan and his group are taking inventory of what they’ve found and gearing up for A critical survey effort in 2022. They have been In a place To Increase $53,000 from sources collectively with the Coopperiodtive Forestry Research Unit at the College of Maine. They’re presently soliciting funding from national foundations and conservation pursuits for next yr.

The group has developed a matrix from this yr’s surveys that data chooks per acre and per species, in Pretty a Little bit of forest varieties. The forest habitats range from clearreduces to mixed exhaustingwooden stands and mature softwooden stands. The standing Of every of roughly 60 species of chook Is not anyted for every forest type.

“I’m joyful that the suite of chooks Continues to be here,” Hagan said. “They’re nonetheless using this panorama, They typinamey’re as dense As a Outcome of they have been 29 yrs in the past.”

However Hagan Is apprehensive Regarding the influence that fewer mature exhaustingwooden stands Could have on the chooks that DepWind upon them, the end outcomes of partial reduceting and a current enterprise choice for extra exhaustingwooden fiber.

The subsequent step is To match The intypeation with what’s happening nationally. That will assist current whether or not species populations That are declining in North America are furtherly trfinishing dpersonalward in Maine’s enterprise forests, and whether or not different silvicultural practices Might assist.

The great information, Hagan said, is that Maine’s working forest has hugely escaped enhancement strains after 30 yrs. It reprimarys a worldwidely vital nesting place for migrating musicchooks. The question Now’s The biggest Method to stability today’s forestry practices with the wants of chooks Which have been migrating here for hundreds of yrs, and The mannequin new urgency to retailer extra carbon associated to local climate change.

“Simply letting the forest develop,” Hagan said, “Might be not An reply.”

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