Sugar Maple Forest Management

We must make every effort to preserve, conserve, and manage biodiversity. Protected areas, from large wilderness reserves to small sites for particular species, and reserves for controlled uses, will all be part of this process. Such systems of protected areas must be managed to take account of a range of ecological and human-induced changes. This is no small task; yet humans must be equal to this challenge, or risk becoming irrelevant. – Peter Bridgewater

What does it take to improve the habitat and increase the biodiversity at Blandford Nature Center? The answer is implementation of our DNR approved forest management plan. Thanks to the efforts of Grand Valley State University, Professor Ali Locker and student Adam Chandler, a quality before and after snapshot of the changes made will be recorded as they measure the basal area of Blandford’s management units. Professor Locker and her students will continue to measuring the basal area.  The documentation needs to occur to continue the funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS).  A NRCS EQIP program has provided financial support for the continued timber stand improvements.

sugar maple stand

Stand 4C is a dense sugar maple monoculture. Many of the trees exhibit the poor structure of pole size trees in a crowded stand, that is, small, narrow crowns and few lower branches. There is no understory because of the crowded upper story preventing any sunlight to reach the ground. This stand presents an opportunity for Blandford Nature Canter to manage this stand for future syrup production. This will provide a unique educational opportunity to teach visitors about the management of forest for maple syrup production.

With crop tree management, focus is put on reducing competition to sugar maples with stems that are free from insect and disease and have vigorous crowns. Competitors should be removed from at least two sides of the crop tree to give the crown full freedom to grow. The goal is to provide at least 4 to 6 feet of space between adjacent crowns. This management will focus on eliminating individual trees competing with sugar maples, which are healthy and have vigorous, large crowns.

This stand has a high basal area, 237.5 ft²/acre. The basal area should be reduced to 70ft²/acre within the next 15 years following this time table:

  • 1-3 years: Remove to 125ft²/acre
  • 5-10 years: Remove to 100ft²/acre
  • 10-15years: Remove to 70ft²/acre

Removed trees may be used to create the brush pile for 4B and for firewood for the nature center. As trees are removed the subsequent canopy openings will need to be monitored and managed for invasive plant species which are likely to colonize the openings.

Management and stewardship will help preserve this landscape as a valuable historic reference point, illustrating the native communities which were once widespread throughout the Grand Rapids region.

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Trees have been tapped!

Trees have been tapped and the first, sweet taste of spring is here. The next time youtapping 2015 are out for a visit, be sure to check out the new and improved spiles.

In the past Blandford Nature Center has used the large traditional 7/16′ taps. Dr. Gary W. Graham, a Natural Resources Extension Specialist at the Ohio State University Extension Center, advised BNC to change out the spiles. Thanks to a generous donation, BNC is now using these smaller spiles. Even with the smaller size Graham’s research indicates that there will be no difference in the amount of sap flow, however the holes will be able to heal faster. This is better for the tree’s health.

So, now the time to harvest the sap has begun.  How long will it continue and how long will the spiles remain in the trees? That is the question and not something you can do by a calendar.  Blandford plans to watch the weather and taps will be  pulled as soon as the season ends from when the sap stops to flow and the buds start to burst.  So get out to see the taps while you can because as soon as the sap stops, within days they will be out.

Stay tuned to find out more about how Blandford manages the maple stand to preserve the biodiversity and ensure the future heath of the ecosystem.