Frequently Asked Questions

About young forest

What is young forest?


Basically, it’s young trees and shrubs growing together thickly. Young forest can be an old field coming up in saplings like popple and white birch, a wetland thick with tag alder and other shrubs, or trees springing back up on a wooded tract following a timber harvest.




Why don’t we have enough young forest habitat?


Generally, about 10 to 20 years. After that, it becomes older forest. Having forest with a mixture of different-aged patches (young, middle-aged, and old) benefits the widest variety of wildlife. We recommend creating new areas of young forest every five to 20 years, depending on the size of your forest property.




How do humans make young forest?


Depending on the site, even-age timber harvesting can be a cost-effective way to make young forest. Timber harvests give us a way to mimic natural disturbance by opening the leaf canopy, removing mature trees and disturbing the soil. When managed properly, a timber harvest can enhance forests to benefit human and wildlife populations. Conservationists and landowners may also plant native shrubs for food and cover, and mimic natural events like wildfires and windstorms by using controlled burning and heavy-duty machines to knock back older growth and stimulate the dense regrowth of trees and shrubs.




How long does young forest last?


Generally, about 10 to 20 years. After that, it becomes older forest. Having forest with a mixture of different-aged patches (young, middle-aged, and old) benefits the widest variety of wildlife. We recommend creating new areas of young forest every 5 to 20 years, depending on the size of your forest property.




Which areas are best managed for young forest?


It is important for a landowner/manager to know what kind of soils, topography, and conditions exist on their land, and which kind of forest management is best applied in those circumstances. In Northern Wisconsin, many locations are well suited for hardwoods or pine and should be managed for those species. Other areas could be effectively managed for young forest; some are already dominated with aspen or alder and just need some well-planned management to improve them.




Isn’t young forest messy and ugly?


Clearcuts can look raw and desolate, but that’s only temporary. Shoots and saplings soon green up and reforest the land. Individual trees and clumps of trees can be left behind, which helps with aesthetics. Young forest can be quite attractive in the way that it reveals the land’s contours. Plus, wildlife love it! Those reserved trees make for wonderful perches for songbirds to sing off of.




Where can I go to see what young forest looks like?


Check out these habitat projects at www.youngforest.org/wisconsin/habitat-projects, including ones on public lands, where interested citizens can see young forest, learn how to make this vibrant and important habitat, and hunt and observe the diverse, abundant wildlife attracted to those places.




As a private landowner, how can I learn whether it makes sense for me to make young forest on my property?


The best way to determine if making young forest is a good option is to contact us for a site visit. A professional conservationist will visit your property, suggest management options, and discuss with you whether creating areas of young forest makes sense based on your objectives for your land.





Wildlife

How is young forest valuable to wildlife?


Grasses and flowers grow, providing quality nesting cover and a variety of seeds and insects valuable for foraging wildlife. Shrubs move in, producing more valuable food for wildlife such as berries and nuts.




How can I increase the amount of wildlife using my property?


Many wildlife species benefit from a landscape that contains forests of different ages and compositions. If your woods are all one age and have clear visibility with little plant growth beneath a closed leaf canopy, your woods may not be getting used by a broad spectrum of wildlife. Adding well-planned timber harvests and young forest in appropriate sizes and locations adds openings, food, and cover that will in turn attract a great variety of wildlife.




What wildlife uses young forest?


Ruffed grouse, rabbit, fox, turkey, bobcat, deer, and bear all use young forest in part of their life cycle. Flycatchers, warblers, towhees, vireos, sparrows, and juncos rely heavily on young forest. In addition, some of our most imperiled bird species, what we call Species of Greatest Conservation Need, are dependent on young forests, including Golden-winged Warbler (and seven other kinds of warblers), Whip-poor-will, American Woodcock, Brown Thrasher, Veery, and cuckoos.





Funding

How much does a site visit cost?


It’s free – there is no cost for a site visit by natural resources professionals who participate in the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership.




If I express interest, am I obligated?


No, we want the information about habitat improvement to get out and are providing it free of charge. If you want to learn more, we will be happy to get you more detailed information. At any time, you can decide this is not for you, and there will be no cost.




If I decide to do a habitat project, how can I get guidance?


Complete the WYFP survey at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/WYFP-survey to give details about your property. The WYFP coordinator will contact you to further discuss your options. You can also contact the WYFP coordinator directly at 315 S. Oneida Ave. Suite 206, Rhinelander WI 54501, telephone (715) 966-5160, email WIYoungForest@gmail.com.




How are young forest habitat projects financed?


Some of the WYFP partner agencies offer financial assistance to participating landowners. These funds may come from federal, state, or non-profit organizations. The rate varies depending on the agency and project specifics but is usually 50 to 75 percent of the total cost, with the landowner covering 25 to 50 percent of the cost. All discussions about finances and rates take place before anything becomes final.




What will it cost me?


The rate varies depending on the cost-share program and project specifics, but usually the landowner will cover 25 to 50 percent of the cost. Sometimes, there is no cost at all for the landowner. All discussions about finances and rates take place before anything becomes final.





Doing the work

Can I do the work and then apply for financial assistance?


No, financial assistance needs to be applied for and granted first.




How do I get work done on my property?


If possible, you can do the work yourself. However, in most situations you will be provided with a list of young forest contractors in your area who can do the work.




When is the habitat work actually undertaken?


Management activities are usually conducted during winter when the ground is frozen. This prevents damage to soils, and it’s the best time to allow for regeneration of the target species, generally aspen (popple) and tag alder.




Do I have to open my land to public hunting if habitat work is done on my property and/or I receive financial assistance?


No, public access is not a requirement to complete work or to receive financial assistance.




My land is enrolled in MFL. Is that a problem?


No, we can work with DNR Forestry staff if there are potential young forest management activities you are interested in including in your plan. As long as the activities do not violate other MFL requirements, a plan modification is a relatively easy process. Furthermore, if you have an existing management plan for your property, it could expedite the application process and get you ranked as a higher priority for some project funds.




My land is not enrolled in MFL. Is that a problem?


No, there are many different options for forest landowners. There may be funds available to help pay a plan writer to develop a forest management plan. Otherwise, we can help you sort through what is important for you on your property and work with you to develop a kind of stewardship plan you are comfortable with.





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