Vines Article in Newsletter
Regarding Carl Martin's article in recent Newsletter, I agree that non-native vines are a problem and should be eradicated on woodlots whenever possible. However native species, such as fox grape, have a role to play and I don't think we should be promoting their removal from woodlots/forests in Pennsylvania. And if deer browse is such a severe problem as Carl states, preventing normal tree species recruitment, why aren't Bureau of Foresty and partners aggressively working to reduce their density in those regions?
Tioga County Pennsylvania
I forwarded your question to the author of the original article.
Here is the answer to your question provided to me from the editor of the newsletter.
Sorry for delay as Allyson was not available for a short time.
In the May 2014 issue of E-Forest Leaves, we shared an article written by Carl Martin, a PA Forest Stewards Volunteer. In his article, he lists concerns over vines to the forest canopy and structure and encourages landowners to consider vines' impacts on their woodlands. As he mentioned in his article, Carl resides in southeastern Pennsylvania, where they do have many problems with different vines. In some areas, grapevines can overrun woodlands, but we are also seeing lots of non-native oriental bittersweet vine impacting woodlands. While native, grapevines can be problematic to landowners, especially those desiring to grow their trees for timber production - as the vines do snap off limbs and change the structure of the tree. However, you are absolutely right in the importance of these native vines to wildlife. In fact, we encourage landowners who care for their land for wildlife values to keep some of the grapevine and perhaps cut the infested trees down, bringing the grapes to the forest floor for wildlife to make use of. Non-native vines are particularly aggressive, do not have great wildlife value, and can do a lot of damage, outcompeting the native vegetation. We encourage landowners to watch our for non-native vines, like oriental bittersweet, and consider removing.
In Pennsylvania, our woodlands are under many threats - some native, some not. Deer, while native to the area, have survived in populations higher than what the landscape can traditionally support. As such, there are many areas across the state where the forest regeneration does not exist or is in species that are not as desirable to deer and people. The next forest, with high species diversity, is not present. Returning the deer populations to an equilibrium with their habitat is highly desirable. There are multiple sides to this issue, though, and multiple arguments heard from the sides. From a forester's perspective, controlling the deer population to the place where the forest can recover - where we see the next forest getting established under the present, where spring ephemerals and forest floor vegetation show up (and not just ferns), where we see a diversity of species growing - is going to provide us the most resilient forest to stand in the face of all the other threats coming at them.