RGS Provides Forestry Mulching Equipment to Improve Wildlife Habitat ~ VIDEO

Caterpillar 299D XHP mulching machine provided by RGS (Photo courtesy of the Ruffed Grouse Society)
Caterpillar 299D XHP mulching machine provided by RGS (Photo courtesy of the Ruffed Grouse Society)

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

Elkins, WV -(AmmoLand.com)- The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) has provided a forestry mulching machine to assist several agencies with their efforts to provide better habitat for a number of wildlife species in West Virginia.

Early successional habitat projects have been successful on the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) under a collaborative partnership among the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), the West Virginia Division of Forestry (DOF) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

Early successional habitat (ESH) refers to areas that have well-developed ground cover or shrub and young trees, lack a closed tree canopy, and are created or maintained by intense or recurring disturbances. Disturbances and early successional habitats are important to maintain the diverse plant and wildlife species native to deciduous eastern forests. A variety of wildlife species require ESH during all or part of their lifecycle, most notably ruffed grouse, American woodcock and many species of songbirds.

The Caterpillar 299D XHP machine, mulching head, and a gooseneck trailer were bought by the RGS to maintain and create early successional habitat on the Beaver Dam, Cheat and Little River Cooperative wildlife management areas of the MNF and Kumbrabow State Forest. To help out, the USFS will hire an operator and cover maintenance costs, and the DNR will buy a heavy-duty truck to pull the trailer.

The group has set an initial goal of creating/maintaining 300 acres of habitat per year. Much thought has gone into project development and implementation, and results are already being seen on Kumbrabow State Forest, where the machine is currently working.

Jack Tribble, district ranger on the MNF Greenbrier Ranger District, complimented this effort by stating, “It is nice to see that over the past five years we have really moved forward on a comprehensive and cooperative approach to habitat management. Getting it done on the ground is so paramount and we all are moving in the same direction with these positive results.”

Rob Tallman, DNR wildlife manager on Cheat Cooperative Wildlife Management Area and Kumbrabow State Forest added, “Partnerships equal results. The partnerships we have developed and our interagency working relationship along with RGS support has proven very successful. The sportsmen and women of West Virginia should thank RGS and especially RGS Regional Biologist Dr. Linda Ordiway for demonstrating their commitment to the wildlife resources of this state.”

Travis Miller, State Lands Manager for DOF said, “The goals for wildlife habitat management and forest management are essentially the same. The addition of the mulching machine provides us with a tool to not only create and maintain habitat but also to mechanically enhance our timber resources through crop tree release and timber stand improvement.”

Dr. Linda Ordiway said, “This type of agency commitment and cooperation in creating and enhancing existing habitat is needed for successful management. This is a model partnership where the end result is providing habitat for sustaining the wildlife and floral diversity that West Virginia is known for.”

For questions regarding these projects or relating to the collaborative partnership, please contact Rob Tallman at 304-552-2528 or at [email protected]

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About West Virginia Division of Natural Resources:

Hunting and fishing in West Virginia is a time-honored tradition in which the majority of families have at least one member who participates on a regular basis. It is our goal to preserve this tradition and all wildlife resources for generations to come.

For more information, visit www.wvdnr.gov.