Jerktail Mountain: Pioneer Forest and Ozark National Scenic Riverways

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Evaluation

Selective timber harvesting on Pioneer Forest land began in spring 2014. A prescribed burn was completed in March 2015. Herbaceous species monitoring is ongoing.

L-A-D Foundation’s Pioneer Forest and the National Park Service’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways are working together to enhance the adaptive capacity of Ozark woodland and glade ecosystems.

Project Area

This project is located on a 1,836 acre tract within the Current River Hills subsection of the Missouri Ozark Highlands in south central Missouri about 9 miles northeast of Eminence. The rugged terrain of the Current River Hills features extensive forest and woodlands with high ridges dominated by shortleaf pine and oak with scattered igneous and dolomite glades. The L-A-D Foundation and National Park Service each own portions of the Jerktail Mountain management area, and jointly manage and monitor the area. This project is supported in part by the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund.

Management Goals

At 140,000 acres, the L-A-D Foundation’s Pioneer Forest is Missouri’s largest private land ownership. Since the early 1950s, this forest has employed a conservative, uneven-aged management method known as single-tree selection harvesting.  Pioneer’s decades-long research of this successful method strongly indicates a truly sustainable forest management practice.  Recognizing the importance of fire in managing glade ecosystems and shortleaf pine woodlands, foresters have developed fire prescriptions to reduce woody species encroachment, restore and maintain the targeted ecosystem, and enhance adaptive capacity to better cope with a range of future climates.          

Ozark National Scenic Riverways was established as a unit of the national park system by the U.S. Congress in 1964 to conserve and interpret the scenic, natural, scientific, ecological, and historic values and resources within the National Riverways, and to provide for public outdoor recreational use and enjoyment of those resources. The National Riverways include portions of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, providing 134 miles of clear, free-flowing, spring-fed waterways.  The overarching goal of the fire management program in the Riverways is to restore and maintain fire-dependent natural communities such as glades and woodlands.

Climate Change Impacts

According to the majority of climate models and a recently completed vulnerability assessment for the central hardwoods region, these climate change impacts are expected in the Missouri Ozarks region by the end of the century:
Mean annual temperature increases from 2 °F to 7 °F.
Increased precipitation in winter and spring and potential declines in summer
Increased frequency and severity of wildfire.

Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges

Other species like black and scarlet oak are projected to be negatively affected by drier summers
Woodlands are adapted to frequent, low-intensity fires, but could be negatively impacted if fires become too severe
However, some species with extremely narrow soil or moisture requirements could be vulnerable
Eastern redcedar encroachment is a major issue on this site, and it will likely expand in the future due to other factors besides climate change

Opportunities

In woodlands, shortleaf pine and post oak are projected to benefit from a warmer climate
In glades, most species are adapted to the hot, dry conditions that are expected to become more common

Adaptation Actions

Staff from the Pioneer Forest and Ozark National Scenic Riverways used Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to identify actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of woodland and glade ecosystems. Below are examples of adaptation approaches and tactics planned for the site.

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Glade
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
4.1. Prioritize and maintain unique sites.
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
Prescribed fire (variable intensity). Burn every 3-4 years initially, shifting to every 5 years.
Consider late summer "moisture of extinction" burns that will burn only the glades and not the surrounding woodland
Gradually reduce the eastern red cedar component and carefully manage dead-cedar-fuels to retain most old growth trees in the glade/woodland zone
Woodland
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
2.1. Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens.
3.1. Alter forest structure or composition to reduce risk or severity of wildfire.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
9.5. Disfavor species that are distinctly maladapted.
10.2. Allow for areas of natural regeneration to test for future-adapted species.
Prescribed fire (variable intensity). Burn every 3-4 years initially, shifting to every 5 years.
Remove aging northern red oak and scarlet oak that are not projected to do as well under future climate conditions
Favor shortleaf pine and other associated species projected to do well under multiple forest models (post oak, white oak)
Reduce the duff layer and woody understory to allow natural regeneration of shortleaf pine when canopy opening disturbances (such as windstorms) occur
Selective thinning and burning to reduce stand density. Maintain a diversity of tree species to avoid the risk of a catastrophic loss.
Both Areas
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Sericea lespedeza reduction using targeted herbicide

Monitoring

2014 preburn data versus 2015 post-burn data showed the average species richness of native herbaceous plants (mainly wildflowers and grasses) increased by 37% on 2 glade monitoring plots and by 137% on 2 woodland monitoring plots. This result surpassd the goal to obtain at least a 20% increase in the average number of native herbaceous species per quadrat in the glade and woodland plots by the second year following the second burn.

Project Photos

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Project Documents

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Leslie

Keywords

Invasive species, Upland hardwoods, Fire and fuels, Restoration

Last Updated

Wednesday, January 24, 2018