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. The compartments are defined by land use and with definitive boundaries such as roadways, right-of-ways, and waterways. Having defined management compartments allow the development of management recommendations which consider local conditions, but meet the overarching management goals for Raystown.
To date, Raystown has managed 3,498 acres using commercial forest management. This management has resulted in the harvesting of an estimated 6.1M board feet of sawtimber and 102K tons of pulpwood. Revenues from the sale of these wood products now exceed $1.88M. This revenue is returned to Raystown and used to further enhance the environmental stewardship program (i.e. gravel road maintenance, forest pest suppression, invasive species herbicide, prescribed fire, food plot program).
In terms of field management, natural resource staff members manage a total of approximately 200 acres. Of that 122 acres are managed under agricultural lease, with the remainder being managed via Raystown staff. The habitat fields managed by Raystown staff are planted solely for wildlife benefit. A myriad of crops are planted to include clover, alfalfa, corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, sunflower, turnip, soybean and brassica. New plantings in the spring of 2019 included 23.5 acres of corn, 4.2 acres of clover, 9.5 acres of summer mix (oats, buckwheat, soybean, sunflower) and 40.8 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 and hard pine 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.