Forest Management Planning
DFW participates in developing ecoregion assessments for all Massachusetts forestlands, and is completing comprehensive forest management plans for all of its properties. DFW has worked cooperatively with other agencies within the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), including the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Division of Forest and Parks - Bureau of Forestry, and Division of Watershed Protection - Watershed Management Section, and with the USDA Forest Service to develop ecoregion boundaries for Massachusetts (Fig. 1). EEA, DCR and DFW are preparing ecoregion assessments to be used by all state land management agencies as an initial step in the forest planning process (see EEA's Sustainable Forest Management site).
Fig. 1. Massachusetts Ecoregions.
Continuing with this process, DFW has identified nine ecoregion-based Forest Management Zones (FMZs) that consider multiple DFW properties in a landscape context (Fig. 2). In some cases, an FMZ represents a single ecoregion. In other cases, an FMZ groups adjacent ecoregions that have similar management issues. Although FMZ boundaries recognize ecoregion boundaries, the process of delineating FMZs incorporated historical, cultural, and socio-economic issues, as well as ecological concerns. DFW is developing management plans for each of the nine FMZs.
Fig. 2. DFW Forest Management Zones.
FMZ plans provide a summary and assessment of forest resources on all DFW properties within the ecoregion(s) that comprise the FMZ. These plans describe long-term forest monitoring and management goals for DFW lands, and identify portions of DFW lands where active and passive management will occur over the next few decades. Active management includes activities such as timber sales designed to create or enhance young forest habitat, while passive management includes identification of forest reserves to establish biologically mature forest habitat.
FMZ plans are shaped by two primary documents: the appropriate EEA Ecoregion Assessment, and the DFW Guidelines for Forest Management on Wildlife Management Areas. The EOEA ecoregion assessments identify forest resource issues and opportunities that apply to all lands in one or more ecoregions, including DFW lands. The DFW Guidelines set state-wide goals for providing a range of forest conditions, age classes, and structural diversity intended to enhance and maintain the biological diversity of species, communities, and ecosystems.
In the hierarchy of forest management planning on DFW lands, FMZ plans are followed by property level plans (site plans) for each wildlife management area (WMA) within the FMZ (Table 1). Site plans are brief, specific documents that relate landscape-level goals and objectives to individual properties or small groups of adjacent properties. Finally, Ch. 132 Forest Cutting Plans are generated to describe harvesting in actively managed stands on an individual property (Table 1).
Table 1. The management planning process for DFW forestlands.
|DOCUMENT:||DFW Forest Management Guidelines||EEA Ecoregion Assessments||DFW Forest Management Zone Plans||DFW Site Plans||DFW Ch. 132 Forest Cutting Plans|
|CONTENT:||Background and general strategy for forest management on DFW lands.||Issues and opportunities for public & private forestland in one or more ecoregions.||Ecoregion-based assessment of forest resources and proposed forest monitoring and management activities to achieve desired future conditions on DFW lands.||Property level prescriptions for active and passive management sites on DFW lands.||Stand level harvest prescriptions for active management sites on individual DFW properties.|
|AREA COVERED:||State||Ecoregion(s)||FMZ||WMA||Harvest Area|
|TIME FRAME||Open-ended||Open-ended||20 years||10 years||1 year|
DFW currently has two draft FMZ plans that have received public review. Draft plans for the Berkshire Highlands FMZ (9 MB) and the Taconic Mountains & Marble Valley FMZ (5 MB) were open for public comment from November 21, 2005 to February 16, 2006. Public comments received during this period are being reviewed and summarized, and revised FMZ plans will be posted later in 2007. DFW also plans to post a draft plan for the Connecticut Valley FMZ for public review later in 2007.
While each FMZ overlaps portions of one or two of the five DFW administrative Wildlife Districts, (which are based on town boundaries (Fig. 3)), geodatabase processing allows easy tracking of forest management activities by FMZ and by administrative Wildlife District. Each FMZ also overlaps one or more of the 15 DFW Wildlife Management Zones (Fig. 4). Wildlife Management Zones were established using a combination of ecological and socioeconomic factors, and are used primarily to manage regulated hunting seasons for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear, and bobwhite quail. Accordingly, these boundaries follow prominent physical features, such as major highways and rivers which provide obvious boundaries that hunters and environmental law enforcement can recognize. Again, geodatabase processing allows easy tracking of forest management activities within each FMZ by Wildlife Management Zone.
Fig. 3. Ecoregions and DFW Administrative Districts.
Fig. 4 Ecoregions and DFW Wildlife Management Zones.