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Forest Stewardship at Well Mills County Park

Forest Stewardship at Wells Mills County Park:
Why are we removing trees?
Responsible forest stewardship involves a variety of management tech­niques, including thinning and the use of fire. Good management can in­crease plant and wildlife diversity and improve habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species. Well-managed stands are also less susceptible to insect infestations, disease and wildfire.
The Pine Barrens as Nature Intended
Before humans developed better equipment and techniques to suppress wildfire, the more frequent and uncontrolled fires in the Pine Barrens natu­rally resulted in a patchwork pattern of forest and open spaces. The result­ing ecosystem was dependent on fire for its continued existence. Humans later contributed other forms of disturbance in the form of agriculture, tim­ber harvest and charcoal burning.
Why not just let it be?
As traditional human use of the forest declined or ceased, and fire sup­pression methods-have improved, the Pine Barrens has shifted to a more uniform, mature forest. These stands contain less plant and wildlife diversi­ty, and are prone to more intense, hard-to-control wildfire. These crowded stands are also more subject to insect and disease outbreaks. While the frequent wildfire that once shaped the appearance and species makeup of the Pine Barrens is a natural part of its ecosystem, it poses too great a risk to the human lives and property that now exist in and around the forest to not be suppressed. Forest thinning and prescribed burning provide alterna­tives to maintain an ecosystem that was once dependent on wildfire.