The Susquehannock State Forest is in the midst of updating its resource management plan and is asking the public for input.
District Forester Chris Nicholas presented the draft of the updated plan at a June 16 public meeting at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.
The plans, said Nichols, are updated every 10-15 years. Forest management is coordinated among all 20 state forests and the plan sets a framework for future management. It will become part of the over-arcing State Forest Resource Management Plan.
“Our forest is a working forest,” said Nichols. “It provides timber, recreation and unique habitats.”
The Susquehannock State Forest plan includes plans for each of the land management units. The 15 land management units are: Ansley Run, Commissioner Run, Cross Fork, First Fork Creek, Glavel Lick, Hammersley, Kettle Creek, Long Run, Lookout Mountain, Lyman Run, Mina, Moores Run, Nelson Run, Nine Mile Run and Rock Ridge.
The 10 goals are: sustainable forest management, brook trout habitat, severed lands, woodcock/grouse habitat, recreation, forest health, whitetail deer populations, watershed quality, history, and outreach and education.
There’s an emphasis on habitat maintenance and improvement for identified species: brook trout, woodcock and grouse, and whitetail deer, to preserve game species that are in decline, having a negative impact on the forest or preserve a core habitat.
Another goal is to create a diversified age classes within the forest. Right now, about 83 percent of the state forest is “older,” said Nichols, ranging in age from 60 to 140 years. By creating a balance in age, it will create habitat diversity for many wildlife species. That also plays into forest health and threats from invasive insect and plant species.
In addition, the plan will support the goal of creating a sustainable lumbering industry, which is still an economic driver in the region, he said.
The district forest plan also addresses severed land rights. About half of the Susquehannock State Forest has severed mineral rights. The district plans to work with owners of subsurface rights to minimize the environmental impact of any mineral extraction.
Finally, human use is addressed in creating high-quality, low-density recreational experiences, to preserve and enhance historic sites, and improve outreach and education, said Nichols.
The entire draft plan is online. Comments will be taken for the next few months, then the plan will be reviewed, edited and adopted probably in 2019. Residents can review the draft plan and complete an online survey or email comments to email@example.com.