Silvicultural treatments to regenerate principal species in the flat rock forest communityThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Principal indicator tree species of the Flat Rock Forest Community include Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana Mill.), eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.), and post oak (Quercus stellata Wangenh.). These species are unusual for forests occurring adjacent to large rivers in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, but the thin, dry soils typical of the Flat Rock communities preclude other mesic species. As the Flat Rock forests are invaded by riparian tree species such as green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marshall), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.), and red maple (Acer rubrum L.), the indicator species decline. A study was established to determine the effectiveness of cutting, prescribed burning, and herbicide application to create conditions more favorable for the regeneration of the target species and discourage the less desirable riparian vegetation. Treatments were effective in favoring Flat Rock species in the overstory and understory. Over the 2-year study period, seedling numbers increased across all treatments, including controls. This was attributed to above-average precipitation during both growing seasons following treatment.