In terms of forest and habitat management, the objectives are focused on the diversification within the major vegetation types to include different age classes of forest such as a higher diversity of forest composition and providing a diversity of field types to include herbaceous openings, cropland and grasslands.
The Raystown Lake Project is divided into 18 management compartments. These compartments are approximately 800-1,400 acres in size and are defined by land use and defined boundaries such as roadways, right-of-ways and waterways. The defined management compartments allow the development of management recommendations which consider local conditions, but meet the overall objectives of the landscape goals.
To date, Raystown has managed 3,433 acres using commercial forest management. This management has resulted in the harvesting of an estimated 5.75M board feet of sawtimber and 101K tons of pulpwood. Revenues from the sale of these wood products now exceed $1.6M. This revenue is returned to the Project and used to further enhance Raystown’s environmental stewardship programs (gravel road maintenance, forest pest suppression, invasive species herbicide, prescribed fire, food plot program, etc.).
In terms of field management, natural resource staff members manage a total of approximately 200 acres. Of that 122 acres are managed under agricultural leases, with the remainder being managed via project staff. The habitat fields managed by Raystown staff are planted solely for wildlife benefit. Crops planted include, but are not limited to, clover, alfalfa, corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, sunflower, turnip, and brassica. Staff management in the spring of 2018 shall include 22.8 acres of corn, 2.9 acres of clover mix, 5.5 acres of summer mix and 46.8 acres of mowing.
Over the last century, the United States has had a policy of fire suppression due to the risks fires pose to humans and communities. Unfortunately, this policy has led to unhealthy overly-dense forest conditions, the loss of unique fire-dependent ecosystems, and a degraded wildlife habitat. Without prescribed fire, forests are less resilient, creating the potential for catastrophic wildfire events.
A prescribed fire is the safe use of fire under specific conditions to achieve land management objectives. Prescribed fire in Pennsylvania is authorized by the PA Prescribed Burning Practices Act (Act 17 of 2009). All prescribed fires conducted in PA must be performed in accordance with this Act and the PA Prescribed Fire Standards as developed by the PA Bureau of Forestry and the PA Fire Council, Training and Standards Committee.
Raystown has embraced the use of prescribed fire as a land management tool. Prescribed fire will be used for fuel load reduction, control of invasive species, grassland management and promotion of fire dependent species (i.e. oak species). In compliance with Raystown’s forest and wildlife management programs, Raystown plans to execute approximately 100 acres of prescribed fire annually or 200 acres biannually.