What is timber thinning?
Timber thinning is the process of cutting or removing a selection of trees from a stand to regulate the density, quality, and distribution of remaining trees.
Why is Charlotte County timbering?
Timbering Charlotte County’s environmental lands will:
reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire damaging surrounding homes
will make prescribed burning more manageable and safe
will help to increase the overall plant and wildlife diversity
Is the County going to pay for the timbering?
No, the County will not be paying for the timbering. The profit from the sale of the timber will first go to pay the contractor and the Florida Division of Forestry, and then any remaining profit will go back into the management of the properties.
Will there be any profit from the sale of the timber?
It is expected that the timbering will break even. The profits are market driven and first go to pay the contractor and the Florida Division of Forestry for work done. Any remaining profit will be minimal and will go into additional management of the properties.
Did the County put this project out to bid?
No, the timbering project is a joint partnership with the Florida Division of Forestry (DOF). The DOF solicited and awarded the bid for this project.
Is there a ballpark figure of timber to be harvested from each property?
Is it true that the timbering contractor is going to be “let loose” on the properties?
No. County staff, along with the Florida Division of Forestry will be overseeing the contractor.
Will the parks be clear cut?
No. This is not clear cutting. This is selective timbering. The goal of this timber thinning is to reduce stand density in a mosaic fashion to promote the establishment of a naturally occurring under-story vegetative community.
Have surveys been done to determine which trees will be harvested?
It is a work in progress. Each park will be evaluated individually, staff will be mapping out what trees are to be thinned in order to avoid certain communities and restore or enhance the pine flatwoods community.
What is basal area of trees? How many trees per acre is that?
Basal area is the area of a given section of land that is occupied by the cross-section of tree trunks and stems at their base. Total basal area is measured by determining the area of individual trees, measured at chest height in the stand and adding the measurements together. The calculation of basal area is not comparable to trees per acre since the size of the trees in any given stand can vary significantly. The diameter of remaining trees will determine the trees per acre and this will be different in each case.
Some citizens agree thinning is needed, but are concerned about degree of thinning after seeing the work done at Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve and the Myakka Rive State Park.
There are no appropriate comparisons with Charlotte County’s environmental lands. Each park is reviewed on a case by case basis to determine specific goals and the most appropriate timbering activities and locations. Charlotte County’s environmental lands are significantly smaller than both the Carlton and Myakka River and have vastly different site conditions including: different watersheds, coastal v. inland, mesic flatwoods v. hydric flatwoods, topography and site hydrology.
The expected re-growth from timbering at the Myakka River State Park may have been affected by ground water issues. Have any studies been done on the ground water studies, could the ground water be affected by timbering?
Charlotte County’s environmental lands, including Cedar Point are in a different water shed from Myakka River State Park, have different hydrology, water uptake process are affected differently by proximity to large water bodies and by freshwater (Myakka) and salt water (Cedar Point).
Why would Charlotte County want to go back to the 1940’s site conditions?
The final goal is not the same site conditions that existed in the 1940’s. Staff uses a variety of criteria to determine how much to timber, including the historical site conditions. Criteria evaluated includes:
various historical data
scientific definitions of what healthy pine flatwoods should look like
fire history and suppression
Charlotte County is timbering 4 areas in roughly the same time how will the vegetation recovery and food supply for wildlife be affected?
Under story vegetation recovers fairly quickly, usually within a year.
Will the wooded area be gone?
The timbered area will look different. There will be fewer trees and initially it will not look very aesthetically pleasing. Similar to the removal of Brazilian Pepper and Australian pine that made other parts of the park look initially unattractive, the end result now looks good and has greater diversity of plants and birds.
Are palmettos going to be removed?
No, they will be flattened by the machinery as a by-product. Many of the impacts from machinery will be similar to fire opening up areas for additional herbaceous cover on a small scale and will also make prescribed burning safer.
Will felled trees and logs be taken out of the parks?
Most logs will be taken out, but some will be left to decompose for nutrients.
Will there be planting after the timbering?
The need for any plantings after timbering will be reviewed individually at each park.
Why can’t the environmental lands be managed with “a hands off attitude” or passive management?
Because natural processes, such as fire, have been altered, the density of trees and palmettos are higher than normal for a healthy pine flatwoods community. A passive management approach would result in significant overgrowth with the vegetation communities strangling itself and being overrun with exotic species such as Brazilian Pepper, Cogon grass, and Australian pine.
Will the Florida Scrub-jays at Amberjack be affected?
No, the mitigation area to be timbered is currently not occupied by Scrub-jays. Removing the trees in the mitigation area will improve the habitat for Scrub-jays by removing predator perch trees and make it more attractive to the jays.
Will other listed species be affected, such as bald eagles or red-cockaded woodpeckers?
No, the goal is to improve habitat conditions for listed species. No timbering will be conducted at Cedar Point during eagle nesting season and follow the National Bald Eagle Guidelines. There will be no impacts to red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) from the timbering at Charlotte Flatwoods. There have been no confirmed sightings of RCWs at Charlotte Flatwoods since the 1990’s and they are no longer using cavity trees on the units.
Florida Communities Trust (FCT) contributed to the acquisition of these properties; do they review the timbering plans?
No, timbering is an accepted land management practice and will help Charlotte County to meet FCT management requirements. Information of the timbering project will be reported in the Annual Stewardship Report.
Is there a start and a stop date?
Charlotte Flatwoods begin: early 2010
Amberjack begin: after Charlotte Flatwoods is completed
Oyster Creek begin: after school is out in May 2010
Cedar Point: begin after bald eagle breeding season May 2010
Each park will take approximately 2 weeks to complete.
Will park functions be affected?
Yes, each park will be closed for approximately 2 weeks.
How will the equipment enter the properties?
Charlotte Flatwoods has two gate access points, one on U.S. 41 and one on Zemel Road.
Amberjack has two gate access points, one to the east of the parking lot and one at the south end of park.
Oyster Creek has a gate access point on Shadow Lane.
Cedar Point has a gate access point on Pine Street.
Will there be public hearings?
No, land management does not require public hearings. Workshops have occurred to inform the public and receive input and feedback.
Charlotte County Natural Resources is looking for input and suggestions, such as to leave trees along the trails to provide shade.