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Forest Planning and Management for Eberly Woods

This 24-acre woods has been maintained as a developing forest since acquisition as cornfields in 1952. The Eberly's will continue this stewardship with the following annual practices.

Trees will be planted into their final field positions to increase productivity and diversity on an annual basis. Most planting will occur in March. The number of trees planted will not be less than 75 and no more than 150 per year. These trees may be purchased and healed in until 3-4 foot transplanting size or may be marked in the fall from naturally occurring sapling availability.

Current planting focus is on Bald Cypress, Sycamore, Hemlock, Oaks, and Butternut. These species have been selected for the following reasons:

Bald Cypress has been found to survive in an otherwise unproductive 1.5-acre swamp. River Birch was tried unsuccessfully. Sycamore has been selected due to the extremely low number (3) found in this Woods. Sycamore will also be tried in close proximity to the swamp. Hemlock was selected for its shade tolerance, lumber value, and suitability as both a wind and perimeter privacy break. Oaks were selected to replenish the numbers that should be present. The numbers are apparently low due to the need of fire to naturally replenish Oaks. Butternut has been selected since none are present on the 24-acres.

Trees will be pruned to remove low branches and double apical stems on an annual basis. All pruning will be in the lower 20 feet of the trees. This pruning will occur to improve the future lumber value. Most pruning will occur in February. The number of trees pruned will not be less than 75 and no more than 150 per year.

Trees will be harvested annually in a low impact manner. Tree harvesting will be limited to 150 trees per year under normal circumstances. Tree harvesting will be conducted on a forest improvement basis. Tree removal selection will occur in late May and early August when tree health can be determined.

Tree removal selection will occur in the following order:

a) Dead trees with lumber value will be removed first. The removal of dead trees without lumber value will depend upon wildlife habitat potential.

b) Trees that are significantly diseased will be removed. Diseases that are approaching the region with high mortality will also play a role in tree removal selection to assist in the control and reduction of these diseases.

c) Trees that are significantly damaged and have potential lumber value will be removed as soon as the damage is recognized since damaged trees are often more susceptible to disease and decay.

d) Select trees in areas of over crowding will be removed. The best trees in these areas will be marked for future seeding stock. The weaker, smaller, or damaged trees will then be removed. When multiple species of trees are in crown contact with each other, trees will be marked for removal based on the preservation of slower growing species found in more mature forests.

This plan will be documented annually with a record of the number of trees planted, a record of the number, size, and condition of trees removed, and a count of the trees pruned.

Donald and Kara Eberly hold clear title and have considered easements of this property. Most of the property is fenced. These fences are 1 foot within the property lines or easements. The parcels have been recently surveyed and remarked.

Professional forestry advice has been obtained from David Neumann. This advice leads to some of the steps in this forestry plan.

A clear commitment to stewardship has been demonstrated in the conversion of cornfields in the 1950’s to forest today. Forest diversity and wildlife have been consistently monitored while promoting homeostasis.

In the unlikely case that contractors were used, they would be informed of this plan and it’s intentions and heavily monitored to ensure that their conduct fit our forestry plan. Currently, our family conducts all of the forestry practices.

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Eberly Woods Forest Health, Inventory and Natural Diversity

Currently we do not have an official, complete and current forest inventory on record. As instructed by Keith Argos, we have contacted David Neumann to be put on the waiting list for an inventory cruise of the woods. Hopefully this will also give a reference to the health and condition of forest and significant flora and fauna.

To make uneducated estimates of the 24-acre property we have the following estimations on tree species and numbers greater than 4” diameter at chest high. 6000 Trees on the North 14-acres. This includes the following:

70% - Red Maple
8% - Ash
7% - Cherry
5% - Tulip Poplar
3% - Sugar Maple
2% - Oak
1% - Aspen
1% - Sassafras
1% - Elm
2% - Other Species

These trees are both crowded and overpopulated. They have competed to the point that most of them are over 85 feet tall yielding good lumber potential. 900 Trees on the South 10-acres. This includes the following:

45% - Box Elder
25% - Cherry
20% - Ash
3% - Colorado Spruce
1% - Mixed Maples
1% - Walnut
5% - Other Species

These trees are under populated. Most of the 10-acres is scrub brush and box elder. Stands of Red Pine, Colorado Spruce, Bitternut Hickory, and The lumber potential is currently very low due to a lack of competition.

Attached is a map of the property. We also have some past terramaps.

Based on Michigan’s Right to Forestry Act, to the best of our knowledge, we are in compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations and zoning laws. To assure compliance, we recently had a meeting with the Buchanan City Manager, Mike Hughes, to discuss city plans for a trail along McCoy Creek and to inform him of our continued forestry practices and intentions.

Location on the property determines the soils. Soils range from sandy on the South end to Clay and Gravel on the North and West ends. This greatly affects the forest productivity and species survival in different parts of the woods. Slope and water retention have been considered. A 6000 square foot pond was added on the Northern end of the South 10-acres to collect runoff from the neighboring neighborhood and to provide a year round water source for trees. Two creeks and the St. Joseph River provide water sources on the North, East, and South ends of the property. Erosion control measures including use of brush, grand fathering of key trees, and erosion controlling planting are used. Some Riparian maintenance has been done through the placement of gravel or riprap.

Special attention has been given to important, rare, and endangered species. The presence of Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red headed woodpeckers, Gold Finches, Great Horned Owls, Flying Squirrels, Turkey, Fox, Mink, Coyote, and possibly Badger have led to careful habitat consideration when conducting forestry practices. Specific sections of habitat have been left undisturbed to provide habitat. Specific dead trees were also left standing to provide housing for woodpeckers and flying squirrels.

Based on the tree estimates, clearly silvicultural practices are being used to discourage forest insects and disease. This year we have been removing Ash more aggressively to prevent an overabundance of food for the approaching Emerald Green Ash Borer. We also regularly check for Oak Wilt, Gypsy Moth, and other diseases.

The pruning, harvesting, and planting schedule is designed to provide continuous stand improvement. If better methods are developed and recommended, they would be seriously considered for implementation.

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Logging, Post-Harvest Evaluation and Reforestation of Eberly Woods

Our harvesting system begins after trees have been selected for removal. Donald Eberly and Richard Eberly conduct all the tree removal and have been removing and pruning trees for the past two decades. We feel we are experienced loggers. We mark the trees for removal in bi-annual cruises, fell trees thoughtfully with chainsaws and Swedish felling tools, and completely remove all of the tree in the form of logs for lumber, mushroom logs, firewood, and brush for burning or erosion control. Ash from burning is used to fertilize the sapling garden for future trees.

Donald Eberly or Richard Eberly oversees the harvest and final inspection. Since we live in this forest, evaluation of harvest is continuous. We are in the forest at least every other day.

To prevent soil disturbance and residual stand damage, felling tools are used to aim the trees during the felling process. Logs are carried by lifting implement on a wide wheeled Ford 2000 tractor out of the forest. This approach is less damaging than most skidding approaches due to the lower weight to tire surface area ratio of the tractor. If skidding is necessary, it is conducted during the winter over frozen ground to further prevent soil and fungal ground disturbance.

Sites on the North 14-acres are easily regenerated in two years or less of the harvest due to the overpopulated conditions. Sites on the South 10-acres require replanting to force regeneration in two years or less.

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Road Construction and Stream Crossings on Eberly Woods

Roads are not used in this forestry. Paths that a tractor can follow are planned and constructed with intent of minimizing loss of productive land. The paths are on the perimeter of the forest areas and through the middle of each tract to gain maximum access. These paths cannot be used in all weather conditions, so harvesting and log carrying is more dependent on the weather. To prevent degradation of the swamp if tractor access were needed, slabs of species other than Walnut are positioned to allow a greater surface area to volume ratio and lift the tractor across the swamp.

We are familiar with and implements Best Management Practices (BMPs) where applicable.

At the property entrance where roads and landings are used, drainage and seeding is implemented.

Properly sized culverts are used to collect water from the local neighborhood into our retention pond and at our entrance crossing. Otherwise, since roads are not used, culverts are not necessary.

Our stream bank grades are rocked where logging access is considered. Areas where access is unfeasible are avoided and left natural.

Wetlands are utilized for forestry and protected from run-off and erosion. Key habitats are maintained naturally in the riparian regions. These habitats support a variety of fish and bird species. Rare plants including violets, Jack in the Pulpit, Giant Red Robin Trillium, Mayapple, and Paw paw are identified and protected. Morel Mushroom patches are also protected. Spore-mass inoculation is conducted annually and a variety of mushroom species that should be in this region have been introduced. These include Lion’s Mane, Grey Morels, Yellow Morels, Hen of the woods, and Chicken of the woods.

As for protection of special sites, the old mill and waterwheel site is maintained through mowing and use of gravel to prevent erosion. No other special sites are known.

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Product Utilization and Aesthetics of Eberly Woods

Efforts are made to achieve good utilization through the use of band mills and chainsaw mills. Logs are end-coated after bucking to prevent cracking. Logs of all sizes and qualities are milled. Stumps are also cut into bowl turning stock. Boards and blanks are then air-dried on covered racks, and finally kiln dried in a fully solar kiln. Firewood is also dried and utilized for heating fuel and pottery kiln firing. Slab wood and planing chips are used for path construction while milling sawdust is inoculated with mushroom spawn for food production. Excess sawdust, planing chips, and brush ash is plowed under in the sapling garden for sapling fertilization. Saplings have also been sold a local landscaping company.

Carrying capacity and production goals are balanced, yet the forest itself is not in balance. Tree removal is currently inadequate on the North 14-acres while planting efforts and pruning will need to be continued on the South 10-acres.

Allowances have been made for appearance. The forest is immaculate in some areas as it appears as a German forest. To remove fire hazard, entire acres have been cleared of all fallen branches and brush. The goal is to establish the conditions of a mature forest more rapidly.

Clearcuts are never used.

Recreation and wildlife trails are free of debris. Some of these paths are utilized for forestry cruises. Waterways are left with naturally fallen trees and brush as it provided habitat and shelter for spawning Salmon, Trout, and Walleye.

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Chemical Utilization on Eberly Woods

Chemicals are used most sparingly if at all. Only Round-up has been hand applied on poison ivy and manufacturer’s guidelines are followed. No more than 2 liters has been used in a single year. This is far within compliance with all state and federal regulations. Records of chemical applications will be maintained when round up is hand sprayed if necessary.

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Community and Social Relations

Recognition is given to public interests. The city manager has been assisted with contacts at DEQ and the Galien Soil Conservation Agency for the new McCoy Creek trail. Use of these contacts should ensure clean water and wildlife habitat. As for Eberly Woods, clean air, forest products, clean water, and wildlife habitat are clearly priorities.

Our management objectives have been discussed with all our adjacent landowners. To our knowledge, all of them have approved of our ideas and practices. Some of our neighbors even give us logs when urban trees are cut. We return their generous offers with boards and free saplings.

Communication and participation with public, forestry, landowner and community organizations have also occurred and will continue. A recent example was the planting of Redbud trees, the city tree, along the parkway adjacent to our woods. The city manager requested we assist in this endeavor. He will be writing us a formal request, but we have already begun the planting process.

Another example of community involvement is our ongoing arrangements with New Buffalo High School. Students in the Advanced Placement Biology classes take nature walks in our woods. We also conduct urban timber harvesting to with the building trades program. These logs are transported from New Buffalo building trades sites. They are milled, kilned, and then delivered to the site for use in the hardwood base and trim of the homes they build.

We also have arrangements with some of the local neighborhood hunters for hunting rights to the property to assist in control of the unchecked deer population.

To the best of our knowledge Native American sites are not present.

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Chemical Utilization on Eberly Woods

Since we do not have an understanding of timber tax, land tax, accounting, records, and forestry accounting practices, Yoko Eberly is currently taking accounting classes. We will also be contacting Dr. Karen Potter-Witter at Michigan State University Department of Forestry.

Mushrooms as an income from alternative forest products have been considered. Hunting and fishing rights have also been considered, but liability has prevented any of these from being viable.

A balance between productivity and natural diversity has been recognized and partially achieved, especially considering the damage that occurred to this land as cornfields in the past. Farming not only disrupts the visible flora and fauna, but it also disrupts the mycology. Natural diversity has partially recovered over the past 5 decades. Our present harvesting practices actually need to be accelerated to reach a true balance with the biomass production of these woods.

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Record Keeping and Tracking of Eberly Woods

Good records have not been kept in the past, but as we become better informed of forestry accounting practices and of our forest inventory, records become clearly more meaningful. Our records will be maintained, reviewed, reconciled and updated on an annual basis. Tree planting and pruning will be maintained only in the first quarter while tree removal will be maintained on a quarterly basis.

These records will confirm that above harvest and silvicultural activities meet our management plan objectives.

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Commitment to Sustainability of Eberly Woods

Since our forest growth far exceeds our current harvest, sustained yield forestry concepts are clearly followed. We already accept responsibility as the ultimate steward of the land as demonstrated in our conversion of cornfields into forest over the past 50 years. We want to continue this stewardship and find that participation in programs fostering sustainability may help to protect our woods since we have similar priorities and goals.