Using silviculture to sustain upland oak forests under stress on the Daniel Boone National Forest, KentuckyThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
We used a large-scale silvicultural assessment designed to examine the efficacy of five stand-level prescriptions in reducing the potential impacts of gypsy moth infestations and oak decline on upland hardwood forests in Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest. Prescriptions involved a mix of intermediate stand treatments aimed at increasing residual tree vigor and regeneration treatments aimed at maintaining regeneration diversity. Prescriptions were as follows: (1) shelterwood with reserves, (2) shelterwood with midstory removal through herbicide, (3) B-line thinning, (4) creation of an oak woodland, and (5) untreated control. Thirty stands were chosen, half originally classified as sub-mesic and half classified as sub-xeric oak forest types. Prescriptions were replicated three times on each site type. Moisture classification index classified 24 stands as sub-xeric and 6 as sub-mesic. Stand basal areas were reduced to 22.9, 80.6, and 68.3 square feet per acre, in the shelterwood with reserves, thinning, and oak woodland treatments, producing reductions equivalent to 81, 39, and 52 percent, respectively. Early assessment showed a slight increase in tree vigor as determined by crown cover and position for residual trees in these three treatments. In the oak shelterwood treatment, oak seedlings greater than 1 foot in height increased from 191 to 325 stems per acre following herbicide treatment that targeted non-oak mid-canopy trees such as red maple, yellow-poplar, and blackgum.