Protecting High-Value Conservation Areas
Unique cultural features, Threatened and Endangered species and their habitat, unique or under represented plant communities, and unique physical features will be protected. A high value conservation area will exhibit exceptional qualities not normally found in northwest Pennsylvania. Old growth communities, relic communities, threatened and endangered species, viewsheds, unique native tree species, and unique historical and cultural areas will qualify. Hickman Lumber Company and Hickman Timber Management believe in the protection of unique features of the forest and these areas will be maintained on the properties within the economic capabilities of the company. Specifics of managing these areas are included in the management unit plans for these properties. No markers or interpretive signs will be installed, to reduce the impact of additional traffic on the area. Unique areas will be noted during inventories, recommendations drafted, and the areas will be visited during the annual inspections of the property to note any changes. If one has been published, the Natural Diversity Inventory published by the Nature Conservancy for the area, local residents, and the CARGIS system will be consulted to see if any HVCA’s are known to exist. Local history publications have been consulted to note areas of significance.
Hickman Timber Management conducts extensive inventories on a 390’ spacing before management activities, to determine harvest levels, plant communities, habitat, historical sites, and unique cultural and physical features. HTM also consults experts, attends training seminars, uses the Natural Heritage Inventory, and consults local sources to see if any unique features exist. Known threatened or endangered species and unique features are identified and protected. Vernal pools, monolithic rocks and rock outcrops, and platform nests are protected by a no harvest, no disturbance buffer. Rare and threatened species and riparian areas are protected by harvesting restrictions.
Our use of single tree selection and group selection maintains shade intolerant species in the stand and maintains mid-successional forest that is under represented in the area. The average size of the properties managed by Hickman Timber Management (175 acres for HTM-HLC and 107 acres for non-industrial private forestland) makes it difficult to maintain some examples of representative samples. However, the Allegheny National Forest and Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry set aside areas also provide the mid-successional cover type. On larger properties where there are more management options, group selection harvests are expanded to provide early successional habitat, if it is lacking.These unique areas are visited annually during an inspection of the property to see if any damage or change has occurred.
Local examples of these areas include:
Massasauga rattlesnake habitat in the Tippery Swamp area, one of only four or five known sites in Pennsylvania where this snake is known to occur. Harvesting only occurs when the vipers are hibernating in the swamp. Skid roads are seeded after harvest to provide the herbaceous areas the snake prefers.
River hillsides in the Wild and Scenic recreational river corridor along the Allegheny River will be managed on extended entry rotations of 15-20 years to maintain mature overstory conditions visible from the river. The US forest Service guidelines for Wild and Scenic river management were consulted in developing this strategy. All guidelines are voluntary.
The Cathedral area along Horse Creek is a second growth Eastern Hemlock stand of approximately 15 acres with a closed canopy that is preventing anything from growing on the forest floor. The locals from the village of Rockmere like to walk here and enjoy the stream and uncut stand.
The Van Buren iron furnace is located on the Plummer tract and harvesting will not occur in the vicinity of the furnace to protect the integrity of the structure.
Butternut trees are retained and harvesting is restricted around them to minimize damage to the stems.