Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit
Updated: Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Restoring idle fields to native woodlands is the focus of this spring 2011 tree planting project sponsored by American Forests’ Global ReLeaf. The Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest has more than 5,000 acres of land that are in grassland, herbaceous vegetation or agricultural field cover types. After collaboration between DNR staff from the Bureau of Endangered Resources, Bureau of Wildlife Management, Division of Forestry, and the Bureau of Parks and Recreation, nearly 1500 acres of candidate areas were identified for conversion to upland hardwood forests. These areas identified are largely fallow grasslands or agricultural fields scattered throughout the largest block continuous left in southeastern Wisconsin. There are also a number of sites planned for conversion from declining, off-site, conifer plantations to hardwood forest. An increase of continuous forested land on Wisconsin’s State Forests is one of the indicators of sustainable forestry. For 2011, forest management staff has identified 287 acres of candidate units for reforestation. The stands in this project are some of several complexes proposed for reforestation. In April 2011, this project was planted with a mix of white pine (30%) and hardwoods (70%) that are suitable to each individual site at a target density of 1,000 seedlings per acre.
Forest plantations on the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit face regeneration problems related to deer and rodent browse, competing vegetation, and seasonal drought. Given the project fields are largely interior to existing forests, deer populations are lower than in areas with a higher proportion of established agricultural fields. Planting in similar areas in the past five years has shown that deer damage has been less than 10%. Rodent browse is monitored annually for the first 3 years and if present beyond an ambient level (>10%) the vegetation between the planting rows will be mowed (at DNR expense) to reduce habitat for rodents. These fields are average in soil moisture capacity.
Major Benefits of the Project: One of the overarching goals of State Forest management has been to provide large contiguous blocks of managed forestland throughout the state. The entire planting efforts of 2011 will aid in reduction of the forest fragmentation, allowing for more contiguous native hardwood forests offering sustainable services now and into the future. The 20 acre project site is just a small portion of the afforestation efforts of 2011 on the KMSF-NU. Additional benefits will include the production of woody biomass, carbon sequestration, the improvement of habitat for forest interior wildlife species, and the increased opportunity for forest-based recreational opportunities.
Management Plan including Estimated Harvest and Regeneration Schedules: The acres of planted land will be managed using sound silviculture for native hardwood forests. These types of forest achieve their full potential using uneven-aged management techniques through a series of thinning schedules creating a multi-tiered forested structure providing benefits for wildlife and the sustainable production of wood. Thinning schedules will begin when stands become overstocked based on northern hardwood or central hardwood stocking charts. At the first thinning, a majority of the ‘trainer’ white pine will be removed, leaving some of the dominant conifers for stands structure and long term aesthetics. Removal of high risk poorly formed hardwoods will also be prioritized. Reoccurring stand entries will occur every 15 to 20 years after the first thinning to evaluate poorly formed trees and their removal.
Commercial thinning of sawlogs begins approximately year 2091
Rotation age for hardwoods is 80-100 years
After planting, stands will be closely monitored for survival and growth the first few years to ensure adequate stocking and growth of the seedlings. Inventories will be done on a 1, 3 and 5 year cycle and then every 15 years thereafter. The KMSF-NU prides itself on the very complete, GIS-based, forest inventory system that allows the tracking of inventory and forest health on every acre of the property.
American Forests’ Global ReLeaf provided 2011 grant funding for this project.
- Project Type: Tree planting
- Project Initiation Date: 2011
- Location: Plymouth , Wisconsin
- Number of Trees: 20800
- Number of Acres: 20
- Tree Species: Basswood, Black cherry, Shagbark hickory, Sugar maple, Red oak, White oak, White pine
- Project Partner: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources