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Posted on November 22nd, 2021 in Forestry, How To, Woodland Management Moment, Woodlands | No Comments »

Plastic mesh deer fence protecting hardwood seedlings.Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center (HTIRC) Newsletter: USDA conservation programs provide technical and financial incentives for landowners to install and maintain conservation practices, including tree plantations. They are an important tool to help encourage landowners to make an investment in long-term activities like planting hardwood trees. Research across the eastern US, including work done by the HTIRC, demonstrates that deer browse can be one of the most significant barriers to establishment of a successful tree plantings. Deer may increase mortality, but more often they are preventing planted or naturally regenerating trees from growing in height due to repeated browsing. This damage can also deform trees, resulting in poor stem form and lower potential log quality. Plantations where deer selectively browse desirable species may lose important species like oaks due to overtopping by less favored, and therefore less browsed, species that become free to grow. Reducing the damage done by deer browse is an important, and in many locations the most critical step in successful tree planting establishment in many areas across the eastern US.

One of the primary purposes for these conservation tree plantings is developing forest wildlife habitat, but to successfully establish that habitat may require excluding deer for a few years, until the trees are tall enough to continue growing past the deer browse damage. Fortunately, many state Natural Resource Conservation Service offices are recognizing the impact that deer browse is having on establishing successful conservation tree plantings. To address this barrier to successfully establishing tree plantings and natural regeneration, new scenarios are being added to the Tree and Shrub Establishment practice:

    • The “Planted Area with Protection” scenario provides cost assistance for tree and shrub planting and placement of a temporary perimeter fence to exclude deer until trees have grown above the height of deer browsing.
    • The “Regeneration Area with Protection” scenario provides cost assistance for placement of a temporary fence to protect natural regeneration of tree and shrub species.
    • Increased cost assistance payments may be available to help offset some of the additional cost a deer exclusion fence adds to a planting project. States may have differing cost assistance rates and practice requirements. These and other additions to the NRCS tree planting practices provide landowners and natural resource managers effective tools to establish tree plantings that can produce high quality hardwood trees in the future. Check with your local foresters and NRCS offices to see if this practice is available in your area and details on payment rates and requirements. If the practice is not available, work with your local resource management contacts to request addition of this practice for your area in the future.

The HTIRC has supported this fencing practice through research and demonstration plantings that have showcased the benefits deer exclusion fencing can provide for timely establishment and timber quality development in hardwood plantings.

Full article > > >

Resources:
Woodland Stewardship For Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR Playlist
A Woodland Management Moment – Deer Fencing, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
Wildlife Habitat Hint: Exclusion Cage, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Ask An Expert: Handling Harvested Deer, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Finding help from a professional forester, Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center (HTIRC)
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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