Crissman Camp Project

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 Crissman Camp Project Case Study

This 500+ acre property in Mifflin County had a severe fern problem and lack of understory food and cover.

Pre-harvest Condition of the Forest - Note the Ferns Coming in June

A timber stand improvement harvest was planned and conducted on 95 acres of the best growing site in the spring of 2003.

The forest was harvested using mechanized harvesting of low-grade saw logs and pulp, leaving the tops and quality acorn-producing trees in the stand.

 The picture at left shows the condition of forest prior to harvesting. Note the ferns coming up on the ground and the marked “leave tree” in the foreground.  Quality timber and mast trees were left in the stand to provide seed and feed.   It is late spring so the ferns are small.

Herbicide was applied to the fern growth prior to harvesting to make sure this invasive species did not take over the understory, preventing trees and brush from growing.

Extensive road building and a creek crossing were necessary to remove the many truckloads of material from the woods.  Roads were built to last so that future entries into the stand for cultural work would be trouble free.

Removal of unhealthy trees and increasing sunlight to the forest floor will regenerate a new forest and provide food and cover for wildlife.  Note that instead of taking the quality oaks, we leave them to grow bigger and provide seed for mast and new growth.

Access Road Building

Proper road building will ensure good permanent access to the woods for future harvesting and cultural work as well as recreational access. Note the grass seed and straw for runnoff control and seeding of disturbed areas.  Road fabric is used to keep the stone from sinking into the wet soil.

We marked the stand to leave about 40 square feet of basal area of high quality mixed oak species. These trees will feed a lot of game with their increased acorn production and make quality timber for the future. This level of stocking will allow enough sunlight to reach the forest floor to grow new trees both from the stump sprouts and seed germination, resulting in a thick, multi-species understory with fruit bearing raspberries, blueberries, browse species and young trees.  Spruce seedlings were planted throughout the cut area.

The next stage in our habitat conversion project was to create food plots on landings and overgrown 19th century farm fields. This required serious heavy machine time and soil treatments.


Field Finishing Equipment

Rough Grading with a Big Terex


During the site prep stages, the soil was tested at the Penn State Soil Analysis Lab and the appropriate amount of lime, fertilizer, plus several tons of turkey manure were applied for good organic matter and plenty of nitrogen for initial growth.

The plots were made large enough to allow growth without being demolished by deer before the plants could establish themselves. Five acres were planted. Four acres have perennial clovers and chicory along with some brome grass, and one acre will be set aside for annual brassica plantings. This acre will be planted every summer deep inside the property to attract deer during hunting season and help fatten them for winter.

These plots were made with100 horse power machines and many hours of work. You cannot do this with ATVs. The work was paid for with proceeds from the timber sale with money to spare. This was expensive to create, but, with some very inexpensive work including mowing management, frost seeding, lime and fertilizer application each year, this 5 acres will provide a perpetual annual feed of 30 tons of food each year. Typical Pennsylvania forest cover would require thousands of acres to provide this much feed.

Further, the plants used for these plots include a variety of low stem to leave ratio clovers and chicory. These plants are higher in quality and more palatable than the run of the mill clover grown for hay.

Finished Field

This project will include a deer proof fence around 25 acres of harvested forest to allow thick regeneration to successfully establish itself. We will also plant fruit bearing trees and brush along with special oaks that produce prolific acorns annually as opposed to every four or five years as our native oaks do. 


About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.