Forest Stewardship Plans - Additional Requirements for Pennsylvania

The standards below are required in all Forest Stewardship Plans completed with funding from the Common Waters Fund (CWF) program. The riparian area planning and access system standards address important water quality concerns, a major emphasis of the CWF program. The rigorous inventory requirement ensures that a landowner will have the best information possible about the resources on their forest land to inform management decisions. The riparian planning and access system standards were developed by the New York Watershed Forestry Program and are a requirement in all Watershed Forest Management Plans in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed.

Please note that the area included in a Forest Stewardship Plan cannot include areas that are maintained for farming use.

The below standards should be included in addition to the current “PA Forest Stewardship Plan Instructions and Minimum Standards” . The inventory can be included in the “Management Unit Description” section, but the riparian area and access system requirements should be addressed individually.

1. Forest Inventory: All plans must include a stand inventory. The plan writer should make sure their sampling for a plan funded by the Common Waters Fund is sufficient to capture the level of rigor described below. The inventory can be included in the “Management Unit Description” section of the plan.

Statistical Rigor

Forest stands should be sampled with a goal of producing the most accurate measurements of stand characteristics needed to justify silvicultural recommendations. Measurements of stocking must be included in units of basal area per acre (sq ft/acre). In addition, the forester should add measurements of one or more of the following if landowner goals include commercial timber management:

1. A breakdown of stems between acceptable growing stock (AGS) versus unacceptable growing stock (UGS) based on health and ability to produce grade sawtimber. This will help assess the potential of the forest stands for future growth and value.

2. Tons or cords of total merchantable volume per acre. This will help assess stocking, ability to support commercial timber harvesting activities or above ground carbon stores.

3. Sawtimber estimates in Mbf per acre to indicate timber potential.

Statistical accuracy should be a goal of the forest inventory with an acknowledgement that variation within even small stands can confound hard and fast rules. The forester should strive to have adequate plots to represent the stands with a minimum of 10 plots in each stand of 10 acres or more, 3 acres per plot on properties with 200 acres of forested cover or less, 4 acres per plot on properties up to 500 acres and 7 acres per plot in excess of 500 acres. Depending on the variability or “standard error” within the sample, these minimum plot densities should allow the inventory to produce a reasonable statistical result, hopefully +/- 10% of the BA/acre or tons/acre estimates at a 80% confidence level. The actual results will be driven by variation affected by stand development, past management, insect or disease mortality, soil variability, etc. The forester should plan the inventory to produce a cost effective strategy to deal with the data needs of the plan through stand stratification and plot densities that are appropriate to the property.

An additional per-acre payment for the inventory will be paid on top of the CWF Forest Stewardship Plan rates.

2. Riparian Areas:
Riparian areas will be identified and management recommendations will be provided for all state classified streams and/or streams that appear on a USGS topographic map. The Common Waters Fund encourages foresters to identify additional Riparian Areas for intermittent streams and seeps as they see fit.

i. Riparian Areas should be identified on a USGS contour or stand type map. Management objectives for Riparian Areas should be developed cooperatively with the property owner. Management objectives should appear in the plan narrative for each riparian area. These objectives can range from wildlife management, afforestation, aesthetics, invasive species control and timber management to no-cut areas. Management objectives should address issues with a direct impact on water quality and Riparian Area Management such as tree planting in reverting farm fields adjacent to streams, the control of invasive species or potential erosion problems within the riparian area.

ii. Foresters must identify in the plan narrative specific management recommendations that can be taken to achieve the stated goals. These specific recommendations range from tree planting, water bar installation, road closeout and wildlife mast tree release to timber stand improvement. Management recommendations must be based on site specific information. When a Riparian Area is part of a larger stand the forester does not need to collect inventory specific to the Riparian Area itself. Since the Riparian Area demonstrates the characteristics of the larger stand the stand level inventory information can be used as the basis for management recommendations. If the Riparian Area differs significantly in age, size class or species composition it should be treated as a separate stand and include the information identified in the appropriate section of the Forest Stewardship Plan standards. When riparian management includes non-forested (agricultural and non-agricultural) open areas, management objectives should include afforestation with species options and planting criteria described. Include options for potential stand establishment or other riparian techniques through programs available from CWF, NRCS, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) or other agencies (i.e. fencing, tree planting, etc.). NOTE: Non-forested areas can count toward planned acres if they fall within a riparian area.

iii. The minimum width for Riparian Areas is either 1 1/2 times the average height of the trees adjacent to the water body or 100 feet, whichever is greater. The Riparian Area begins at bank full condition and extends to the distance identified above. Foresters are encouraged to include as many acres in the Riparian Area as they feel is warranted using the techniques outlined in publications such as Riparian Management in Forests of the Eastern Continental United States, Best Management Practices for Pennsylvania Forests, Riparian Forest Buffers - Function for Protection and Enhancement of Water Resources (Welsch), etc.

iv. Pennsylvania Timber Harvest Guidelines and additional forestry Best Managements Practices (BMPs) pertaining to forest function, water quality protection, habitat, recreation or aesthetic objectives should be identified.

v. The Riparian requirements listed above represent the Riparian Planning Program specifications that must be integrated into all Forest Stewardship Plans, where applicable.

3. Access System:
Potential and/or existing roads (main skid or haul roads, landings, quarries, recreational trails) laid out on an enlarged USGS contour map to grade and stand type map. Discuss problem areas due to soil type and suggested solutions as they relate to existing/proposed roads and landing sites. Stream crossings identified in plan and on enlarged USGS contour map and stand type map and the best method suggested (i.e., temporary bridge, culvert, ford). Design of erosion control measures (BMPs) on roads during construction and after harvesting included in the plan. Log landings identified along with erosion control methods necessary for their construction and closure after harvesting. Reference made to the Best Management Practices for Pennsylvania Forests guide, PA Timber Harvest Operations Field Guide for Waterways, Wetlands, and Erosion Control, and/or PA Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual, etc.

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