Creating Woodcock Habitat on Collins Pine Company Lands

Allegheny National Forest Visitors BureauBRADFORD, PA – May 14, 2018 – We are blessed in northern Pennsylvania with several large timber companies managing forests on a sustainable wood harvest basis – benefits abound for songbirds, deer, grouse, small mammals, snowshoe hare, bobcats, and other forest wildlife. But, every once in a while you see an area where volunteers can step in to enhance good sustainable forest management and create habitat for a forest niche critter. Such was the case for woodcock on Collins Pine Company lands about a decade ago.

Collins Pine Company was creating a wood harvest in McKean County and also harvested a stand of aspen to enhance browse and high stem density forest regeneration for birds and wildlife. At the same time, Collins Pine Company by-passed a small aspen stand because it was not harvestable under normal harvesting methods. They contacted the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) to look at the stand. Based on the sustainable harvest across the landscape on this Collins Pine ownership, the RGS decided to add to the habitat mix by cutting the small stand of aspen to encourage root suckering. This small stand surrounded an abandoned oil and gas pond that was now providing home for amphibians and turtles.

The RGS completed the harvest of the small aspen stand, but what to do next with the barren, hard clay landscape around the oil and gas pond? In comes the work of volunteers. Every year the volunteers have been back to plant silky dogwoods, gray dogwoods, common alders, smooth alders, buttonbush, crabapple, and other seedlings adjacent to the pond to create a brushy thicket. The thicket has taken hold and now provides habitat for songbirds and a feeding place for woodcock under the alders and dogwoods. The hard clay banks of the pond now have a soft loam underneath the thicket. Salamanders and turtles still utilize the pond, but now another dimension of wildlife can also utilize the pond.

Adjacent to the pond in the goldenrod field volunteers have also planted black and white spruce seedlings. Twenty years from now those seedlings will provide winter thermal protection for grouse.

Wildilfe needs a mosaic of habitats – fields, ponds, old woods, young forests, shrubs that produce foods, and conifers. Collins Pine Company manages their lands to produce both wood and a mosaic of habitats for wildlife. Thank you.

Call 814-512-2101 or email wlhab@windstream.net if you want to be involved in any future Ruffed Grouse Society habitat for wildlife projects.

The Ruffed Grouse Society was founded in 1961 to promote and increase awareness of young forest management and to maintain suitable habitat that supports healthy populations of ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer and many songbird species that depend on forest diversity to survive and prosper.