I was working on an invasive species herbicide project along the new Dominion pipeline up in the big woods last month when I drove past this well site way back in the woods. Yikes! What a waste of a nice forest opening! The site had probably been planted with some grass but aggressive goldenrod has taken over the site, providing zero food or cover for wildlife – unless you want bees and butterflys.
Well sites like this one provide large forest openings that are otherwise rare in the big woods region. Since there is no agriculture, any area that has palatable forage in this region will be a big draw to deer and turkeys. It is unlikely that deer or turkeys will use this field – it is too thick for turkeys to walk through and there is nothing to eat for deer.
The cost of creating a forest opening of this size would be huge, but the well site has been opened up for the landowner for free. Some herbicide treatment, cultivation and soul amendments and this spot could be a tremendous draw for the local deer herd and provide several tons of good forage.
There will be thousands of well sites in Pennsylvania in the coming years. When all the wells are drilled, they will have to be retired and the ground restored to close to its original state. The limestone brought in to hold up the equipment will sweeten the soil underneath. I see this as a great opportunity to create wildlife openings where they are needed and increase the quality of habitat in the big woods regions.
If you have an old well pad or if you are getting a new one or a pipeline on your property, and you want to create a quality wildlife opening by controlling what grows in them, call me for discussion and suggestions on how to go about restoring these areas properly to attract and hold wildlife on your land.
Forage, shrubs, Native Warm Season Grasses can all be planted on these sites to the benefit of the wildlife.
Stephen A. Chilcote, Wildlife Biologist, Forester. 814-360-4510 firstname.lastname@example.org