VII. Forest Management

A. General Approach

A detailed forest management plan(s) will be developed through consultation with the SCFC. The Clemson University Department of Forest Resources and other forest research organizations may also be consulted in plan development. This forest management plan will be developed to improve or protect wildlife and plant habitat, maintain a diverse forest, assure a healthy, sustainable forest, and reach ecological objectives. Wildlife habitat conditions, forest types, successional stages, and management activities of adjacent lands will be considered as they pertain to forest management of the Jocassee Gorges Ecosystem. Forest management activities, including timber harvest, will be carried out on appropriate sites that are not selected for some higher priority use (watershed protection, rare and endangered element buffers, scenic buffers, etc).

Although revenues incidental to timber harvest will be earmarked for management of the property, timber harvest will not be relied upon as a major funding source. Timber harvest will be conducted to enhance habitat and biodiversity, and to sustain forest health.

Forest regeneration methods will emphasize natural regeneration of species most suitable to a specific site. These methods include: single tree selection, group selection, seed tree, shelterwood and small silvicultural clear-cuts. Planting of species will be done on sites that cannot be successfully regenerated to target species by natural methods. It is prudent to maintain a diverse array of accepted harvesting and regeneration approaches. For example, to maintain the rare, native Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens) in the Jocassee Gorges ecosystem would require prescribed burning to achieve regeneration. Re-establishment of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) would likely involve even-age management with planting of seedlings for regeneration. Even-age management will also be desirable in situations where providing early successional wildlife habitat is a goal or in critical watersheds where it is desirable to limit land area and access road disturbance. Shelterwood methods with prescribed fire may be needed to maintain oak on good quality sites (Brose et al. 1998). Group selection or uneven-age management may be applied to regenerate shade tolerant species or maintain mast production, while maintaining aesthetics in areas where visual concerns are important (for example, the Jocassee viewshed).

Stand condition may dictate short-term forest management practices. For example, approximately 21 percent of the property was clear-cut and regenerated since 1964. Many of these stands are white pine plantations that will need to be managed, for example by thinning to release pines and encourage improved stands. Minimal land disturbance would be associated with managing existing pine plantations. Forest road access systems are already in place to manage these timber stands.

Timber stands on Jocassee Gorges were routinely cut under a select-cut system prior to CRI taking ownership. Additionally, approximately 51 percent of the property has been select-cut since 1964 while under CRIs management. In 1995, bear researchers pointed out the lack of oak regeneration and preponderance of yellow poplar on much of the property. Forest management practices that encourage oak regeneration may be needed to rehabilitate forests toward desired conditions.

Prescribed fire will be used as a forest management tool. Objectives for the use of prescribed fire may include threatened and endangered species management, habitat management, fuel reduction, wildlife management and forest management (regeneration, site preparation, control certain species, etc.). SCDNR will coordinate and review all burn plans with the SCFC. Future forest management and land use planning for the property may identify management units (or compartments) and conceptual management priorities for each. Crescent Resources timber stand history and records will be retained and mapped in a GIS format by SCDNR for future planning purposes. Detailed forest management plans will be management-unit specific and site specific. An example of a potential management unit would be the Lake Jocassee watershed. Forest regeneration practices in this management unit would likely be geared toward uneven-age management practices to maintain scenic qualities of the viewshed. Certain management units or areas may be set aside for preservation or mature forest development. A likely area for such designation will be the Eastatoee Gorge area. Other management units (for example, Cane Creek drainage) may be more intensively managed to provide a diversity of forest successional stages to benefit wildlife species.

B. Forest Management Guidelines

BMPs for the Property

Certain guidelines for forest management practices will be developed for the property. For example, protection of streams, wetlands and lakes will involve the incorporation of Best Management Practices. "South Carolina's Best Management Practices" for forestry operations (1994) will serve as a minimum requirement to protect soil and water quality. In most cases, because of steep slopes, highly erosive soils and known existence of unique resources, the State BMP's will be exceeded. BMP application on the property will be site specific, performance based and rigorous. Monitoring of the effectiveness of BMP's in meeting stated objectives for erosion control and water quality protection will afford managers the information necessary for adaptive management.

Timber harvest buffers will be developed to protect scenic areas, threatened and endangered species and streamside management zones (includes filtration, shade buffers, coarse woody debris, beaver control). For example, scenic buffers for forest management will be developed along Highway 178 and the Foothills Trail. Management units for watershed protection around streams and lakes will be designated.

C. Forest Health

Maintaining forest health will be an important component of forest management. Both natural and introduced disease and pest systems play a role in plant and animal composition. Tree vigor often affects the vulnerability of trees to bark beetle attack (Anderson, 1960). Once pine beetles establish themselves in great number, they then can attack more vigorous trees adjacent to infected trees. The Southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), black turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus tenebrans) and the engraver beetle (Ips spp.) are native to this area. They periodically reach high levels and can kill thousands of acres of pines. The beetles are poor dispersers, and often beetle kills can be avoided by cutting living green pine trees that are not yet infested along the moving head of an outbreak. Frequent flights to evaluate forest health will facilitate prompt control measures.

Gypsy moths (Porthetria dispar) are a European species deliberately introduced in the U.S. in 1869 (Anderson, 1960). Periodic outbreaks of gypsy moths deforest thousands of acres of hardwoods. One year of defoliation does not kill most trees but repeated defoliation results in significant losses. Gypsy moths have been documented in the headwaters of the nearby Chattooga River in North Carolina. It is desirable to monitor for gypsy moth activity on Jocassee Gorges and implement control techniques when outbreaks threaten forest health.

Leopard moths (Zeuzera pyrina) occur in the Horsepasture area (Bunch, personal observation). They are exotics, originating in Europe, that attack shade trees, most frequently maples and elms (Anderson, 1960). They are not known to be as seriously damaging as gypsy moths.

Other diseases are not native but were accidentally introduced from importation of foreign plant material. These diseases include American chestnut blight (which came to the U.S. on Chinese chestnuts), Dutch elm disease, and dogwood anthracnose. As seedlings of chestnut hybrids that are resistant to the blight become available, they will be considered for introduction into the Jocassee Gorges area.

Emphasis has been placed on pests and diseases that impact trees and therefore affects forest communities. It should be noted that invasive pests and diseases, particularly exotic ones can also impact herbaceous plants/communities and native fauna. However, there is much less published material available on those threats and their omission is because of lack of information.

Disease or outbreaks of pests such as Southern pine beetles may require special forest management practices to control or contain the damage. Diseased or storm-damaged timber will also be salvaged in certain cases. Forest management prescriptions will be developed to prevent disease and forest pest outbreaks through maintenance of forest health.

D. Wildfire Control

The SCFC will provide manpower and equipment to suppress wildfires and investigate fire law violations. Fire management guidelines will be developed for the property involving coordination among SCFC, SCDNR and SCPRT.