Managers and scientists unite to adapt a shelterwood prescription to shift stand dynamics for competitive oak reproduction.
USDA Forest Service, Southern and Northern Research Station scientists partnered with the Daniel Boone Forest in Kentucky on a long-term silviculture project focused on enhancing the status of oak in upland hardwood stands under the auspice of the Heathy Forests Restoration Act of 2003. In an attempt to grow small oak natural reproduction into more competitive height classes, we applied herbicide to deaden undesirable midstory trees and to increase sunlight penetrating the forest floor in the first phase of a two-phase shelterwood treatment. We successfully increased the number of larger oak reproduction. However, small red maple stems also responded and are dominating the regeneration cohort. Prior to final harvest, we worked to amend the prescription and to add a preharvest herbicide treatment to target these competitive understory red maple stems. Along the way, many challenges have been addressed, including public education about the need to do applied research on a stand-level basis to discern results prior to recommending prescriptions across landscapes. The value added of having managers and researchers stand together to deliver this message has contributed to the ongoing success of this project.