The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the proposed fiscal year 2023 annual work plans for the following state forests: Chesapeake/Pocomoke, Green Ridge, Potomac-Garrett, and Savage River. The comment period concludes March 4.
“Our citizens, economy, and environment all reap the positive benefits of healthy and sustainable forests,” said Maryland Forest Service Acting Director Anne Hairston-Strang. “We are dependent on the public’s input to help us develop the most comprehensive and effective management practices for these forested lands and tracts.”
The public comment period is the final part of a three-step process.
The first step includes an internal review by natural resource professionals with expertise in wildlife and fishery habitats, recreation, forest management, water quality, and ecologically significant species.
The second includes a review by a local citizens advisory committee.
Following the conclusion of the public comment period, each forest manager will review, revise and finalize their specific plan.
Comments can be provided online at the DNR website and also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 49,000 acres, Green Ridge is the largest contiguous block of public land in Maryland. Green Ridge is rich in both natural and cultural heritage and remains a “working forest” today as it is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service to conserve the natural ecological processes while supporting the economy of the region through an active forest management program.
The Maryland Forest Service Mission is “to restore, manage, and protect Maryland’s trees, forests, and forested ecosystems to sustain our natural resources and connect people to the land.”
Green Ridge State Forest plans
Green Ridge State Forest is the only State Forest located in the Ridge and Valley province. Green Ridge receives the least amount of rainfall in Maryland, averaging 36 inches annually. Consisting of 49,012 acres, Green Ridge is the largest contiguous block of forestland in Maryland within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It accounts for about 30% of the State Forest System and approximately 12% of all DNR land in Maryland.
The general geographic boundaries of Green Ridge are Town Creek to the west and Sideling Hill Creek to the east. The northern boundary extends to the Mason-Dixon Line. The southern boundary parallels the Potomac River.
Elevations range from 500 feet above sea level on the Potomac River to 2,000 feet on Town Hill.
The first forest management activities at Green Ridge were performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s. Their main focus was fire control. Other work consisted of building roads, trails, recreation enhancements, and the management of existing forest for its future timber and wildlife potential.
During World War II, the CCC camp at Fifteen Mile Creek housed German prisoners of war who were required to cut pulpwood in the forest. As the forest grew it became popular with outdoor enthusiasts, especially hunters. It also contributed more and more to the local wood products industry.
Today, Green Ridge is a diverse forest consisting primarily of a 110 year old even-aged mixed oak forest, mixed with a wide variety of age classes resulting from various silvilculture activities beginning in the late 1960’s.
The oak consists of a variety of species, including black oak, white oak, red oak, scarlet oak, and chestnut oak. Five native pines grow at Green Ridge: white pine, Virginia pine, pitch pine, table-mountain pine, and shortleaf pine. Flowering dogwood, redbud, and serviceberry are common understory trees.
Upland animals found in abundant numbers on the forest are white-tailed deer, fox and gray squirrel, raccoons, red fox, and cottontail rabbits. Other animals include muskrat, beaver, mink, chipmunks, mice, flying squirrels, weasels, skunks, opossums, bobcat, and black bear.
Wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and woodcock are popular game birds on Green Ridge. Other birds include the pileated woodpecker, red-tailed hawk, and the barred owl. A wide variety of neo-tropical migrants and songbirds also occur on the forest.
Wildflowers such as mayapple, coltsfoot, spring beauty, trillium, bloodroot, and spiderwort flourish at Green Ridge.
Proposed recreation projects for 2023 including maintaining 62 miles of hiking trails and 12 miles of mountain bike trail and enhancing upland game hunting by improving wildlife habitat at Kirk Orchard, Bull Ring Ranch, Anthonys Ridge, Town Creek, and Kasecamp Bottomlands.
Green Ridge’s work plan includes a proposal to manage 196 acres of forest within the 20,000-acre general management zone.
Select cutting in four areas of the State Forest are proposed for 2023, totaling 165 acres of harvest. Forest managers estimate that harvest will generate 596 million board feet of timber. Cutting will follow “variable retention” guidelines to regenerate a mixed oak stand of trees. Foresters estimate that trees in these four areas are over-mature at more than 100 years, and the stands are overstocked with mixed species.
Proposed harvesting is in the following areas:
–David Thomas Road – 29 acres of harvest
–Mountain Road – 44 acres of harvest
–Oldtown Orleans Road – 54 acres of harvest
–Maniford Road – 38 acres of harvest.
General Maintenance at Green Ridge will continue includes maintaining 100 primitive campsites, hazardous tree removal, pole gate installations as needed, mowing and maintenance of handicap access hunting areas, and general maintenance of headquarters complex, shooting range, and outbuildings.
According to the Green Ridge Work Plan, forest managers expect to generate $150,000-$175,000 from sale of timber and other forest products as outlined in the harvest plan.
The forest also expects to see $75,000-$125,000 in revenue from recreational permits, fuel wood permits and shooting range permits during 2023.
Green Ridge State Forest is expected to cost $449,477 to operate in 2023, the plan says. That includes staffing costs, land operation expenses like equipment, gates, signs, roadwork and vehicles.
“Future plans include hiring additional staffing to cover wildlife management activities, restoration projects, recreation management, monitoring, and additional forestry related activities outlined in this Sustainable Resource Management Plan for Green Ridge State Forest,” the plan says.