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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

May 1, 2015DNR continues habitat improvement at Marsh WMA

In January 2015, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began a forestry thinning project at Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Gresham, South Carolina. The purpose of this project is to improve habitat quality for wildlife species. The project will involve thinning approximately 1330 acres of forest land. This will open up the forest and in turn provide better habitat for its wildlife.

As forest stands grow older, the canopy eventually closes and prevents sunlight from reaching the forest floor. When this happens, new growth of other forest plants is inhibited, decreasing the variety of plant species. By thinning the forest, DNR is allowing sunlight back in, which will stimulate new growth of early successional plants such as green briar, blueberry, grasses and legumes. These plants are excellent forage foods for white-tail deer, eastern wild turkey, song birds, and other wildlife species. Early successional plants also provide cover for many wildlife species. Increasing the quality of habitat will allow Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to support more wildlife.

The thinning project includes thinning approximately 1130 acres of planted loblolly stands using a fourth-row thinning practice with operator-selected removal of small, poorly formed trees. An additional 200 acres of hardwoods are being selectively thinned so as to leave mast-producing tree species such as oak, hickory, persimmon, and dogwood. Additionally, some roads will be daylighted to shorten the amount of time it takes for them to dry out after being inundated with water which will prevent accessibility issues.

With financial assistance from the Heritage Land Trust Fund, DNR purchased Marsh WMA in 2005 from the Marsh Furniture Company after having leased it from the company for 14 years. The property is comprised of 8,560 acres of bottomland hardwoods, upland pine, and mixed pine-hardwood forests. Marsh WMA is bordered by the Great Pee Dee River and Catfish Creek on the western side. The north end of the property is designated as the Special Use Area and is reserved for youth hunts conducted by the DNR Take One Make One Program each year.

Marsh WMA offers numerous opportunities for outdoor adventurers. The property is home to dozens of species of resident and migratory birds. Other wildlife species, including American black bears, southern fox squirrels, and American alligators, also are found on the property. Annually-planted food plots scattered across the property, big and small game hunting opportunities, and ample fishing access make Marsh WMA a sportsmanís paradise. Additionally, primitive camping is allowed at the designated camping area located by the informational kiosk.

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