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You are here: Home Information Materials Habitat Restoration and Management Vegetation Management: Cutting and Removal of Woody Plants

Vegetation Management: Cutting and Removal of Woody Plants

Methods for the removal of woody vegetation in bog turtle habitat that may vary depending upon the target plant species. Methods include both mechanical or manual techniques.

Cutting and Removal of Woody Vegetation

The extent of woody vegetation control will vary based on site conditions. At some sites, woody vegetation is just beginning to encroach into the wetland, so the control of this vegetation will only affect a small portion of the wetland and control could be done with light equipment (e.g., chainsaw). In other cases, woody vegetation has overtaken the wetland, resulting in almost full canopy closure. Control measures at those sites may affect the entire wetland over a period of a few years.

To control woody vegetation in wetlands, project proponents will use either use hand-held equipment (e.g., chainsaw, ax, saw) and enter the wetland on foot, or use heavy equipment such as a skid steer with a forestry mulcher, rotary cutter, or tree shear attachment. In some cases, both types of equipment may be used.

Treatment area
No more than 50 percent of the wetland will be subject to woody vegetation cutting and removal in any one-year period. Refer also to treatment area limitations under Implementation of Multiple Restoration Practices, page 33 of this document.

Retention of woody vegetation
Approximately 10-20 percent of the native tree and shrub cover in “mucky areas” in both the emergent and forested parts of the wetland will be retained (i.e., not treated), especially alder, red maple and poison sumac located in or near seeps, springs, rivulets and mucky areas. These areas will be clearly mapped, and marked or flagged to avoid treatment.

Seasonal restrictions
Heavy equipment will only be used in the wetland (i.e., non-mucky areas of the wetland) between November 1 and March 31. Cutting and removal of woody vegetation <3 inches d.b.h. is permissible using light equipment between April 1 and September 30.

Felling woody vegetation
Whenever possible, woody vegetation ≥ 4 inches d.b.h will be felled into adjacent uplands or into non-mucky areas of the wetland.

Mucky area restrictions
Mucky areas of the wetland will only be entered on foot. Any felling of woody vegetation will be done using light equipment (e.g., chainsaw, ax). Heavy equipment will not be driven through, or used to cut or remove woody vegetation from mucky areas. Woody vegetation ≥ 4 inches d.b.h will not be dragged through mucky areas of the wetland, unless there is sufficient frozen ground or snow/ice cover to prevent disturbance to wetland soils. Rather, the vegetation will be left in place, or cut into pieces small enough to remove by hand and then processed or placed in an upland area. If the monitoring biologist determines that large-diameter woody debris would result in adverse hydrological changes to the wetland (e.g., by blocking water flow), or would be so abundant that it would impede bog turtle movement, the woody debris will be removed to avoid or minimize this effect. To avoid displacement of hibernating turtles and potential destruction of hibernacula, woody vegetation will not be pulled out by its roots in mucky areas.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. (2010). Biological Opinion: Effects of the Implementation of Habitat Restoration Practices by the Natural Resources Conservation Service on the Northern Population of the Bog Turtle. Prepared by Region, 5.

- Jason Tesauro, March 2021