VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN LADY SLIPPER SCENIC Lady Slipper Scenic Byway Vegetation Management Plan...

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Transcript of VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN LADY SLIPPER SCENIC Lady Slipper Scenic Byway Vegetation Management Plan...

  • VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN

    LADY SLIPPER SCENIC BYWAY

    BY

    GEORGE-ANN MAXSON

    CONSULTING BOTANIST

    BEMIDJI, MN

    AUGUST 2010

    For

    LADY SLIPPER SCENIC BYWAY COMMITTEE

    CHIPPEWA NATIONAL FOREST, US FOREST SERVICE

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Introduction

    I. Geological, Historical, and Ecological Setting of the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway

    Soils………………………………………………………………….1

    Vegetation…………………………………………………………....1

    History……………………………………………………………….3

    Landscape…………………………………………………………....4

    II. Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Plan for the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway

    Overview……………………………………………………………. 9

    Recommendations for Reconstruction of the Byway………………..9

    Vegetation Management within theROW…..………………………10

    Seed Mixtures……………………………………….………..11

    Maintenance of Seed Mixtures……………………………….14

    Orchid Management……………………………………………..….16

    Other Management Considerations………………………………....18

    Future Maintenance of the Byway………………………………….20

    Visual Quality Management………………………………………..21

    Resources for Private Landowners…………………………………23

  • III. Noteworthy Features of the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway

    Interpretive Pullouts, Rest Facilities…………………………………23

    Seasonal Highlights…………………………………………………..24

    Conclusion

    IV. Resources pages 26-28

    Agencies and Organizations

    Websites

    Publications and Reports

    Appendix A

    Descriptions and Crosswalk for Native Plant Communities,

    Ecological Landtype Phases, Forest Cover Types, Wetland Types 6 pages

    Appendix B

    Native MN Trees and Shrubs Appropriate for Roadside Planting 6 pages

    Appendix C

    Milepost Descriptions of the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway 2 pages

    Section 1 Knutson Dam to US 2, Miles 0 to 5 5 pages

    Section 2 Pennington to Knutson Dam, Miles 5 to 8 5 pages

    Section 3 Pimushe Access to Pennington & Power Dam Road 7 pages

    Section 4 Benjamin Lake to Pimushe Access, Miles 13 to 20 9 pages

    Section 5 Blackduck to Benjamin Lake, Miles 20 to 26.6 6 pages

  • Introduction

    Charge from the 2005 Corridor Management Plan for the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway:

    “Develop a comprehensive corridor vegetation management plan for the Scenic Highway corridor involving agencies and private land owners that own or manage land along the byway to create visual and habitat variety.”

    “Maintain and enhance the mix of open and closed tree canopy along the Scenic Highway.”

    Three years later, a successful grant application to the National Scenic Byways Program titled “Vegetation Plan & Ladyslipper Transplant Program” (March 2008) stated that:

    “This project will create a vegetative management plan that would focus on strategies to conserve and manage vegetation within a 200 foot corridor along the byway including the showy lady’s slipper. The lady’s slipper is the Minnesota State Flower, adopted in 1902. The Chippewa NF and state are concerned with protection and management because lady’s slippers grow slowly; taking up to 16 years to produce their first flowers and its habitat is in bogs, swamps and damp woods. The flowers are also the brand for the byway and an attraction for travelers. The completed plan would identify specific measures to maintain the scenic, vegetative and biologic values important to the byway traveler.”

    This vegetation management plan offers recommendations and resources for preserving and enhancing the special natural qualities of the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway.

    The foremost goal is to maintain the flourishing populations of Showy Lady Slippers, the state flower of Minnesota. Much of the Byway supports large numbers of Lady Slippers in the road right of way and adjacent wetlands.

    Another goal is to retain the Northwoods character along the roadside as the phased road reconstruction proceeds.

    A third goal is to develop the Byway’s resources for an enjoyable and memorable visitor experience.

    I express deep appreciation to the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway Committee and to the staff of the Chippewa National Forest for their support of the project.

  • 1

    Lady Slipper Scenic Byway Vegetation Management Plan I. Geological, Historical, and Ecological Setting of the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway

    Underneath a blanket of glacial gravel, sand, silt, and clay, lies the basement foundation of northern MN, the roots of the ancient Laurentian mountain range. Over two billion years ago a lofty range as high as the Rocky Mountains towered over northern MN and southern Canada. All mountains eventually erode to grains of sand and are washed to the sea, and in this case even the remaining basement rock has disappeared under glacial deposits and is only visible along the Canadian border and northeastern MN. After the latest period of glaciation, the landscape between Blackduck and Cass Lake resembled the debris piles left after snow banks melt in the spring. It was a bleak, cold and empty landscape, a blank canvas for plants and animals to colonize over the following 10,000 years. Soils Soils develop over thousands of years in a complex interaction among the original glacial deposits, the successive plant communities that colonized the sand, silt, and clays, and the life forms within the soil, ranging from bacteria to fungi to nematodes to pocket gophers and tiger salamanders. The soils along the Byway range from excessively drained sands and gravel south of the Mississippi River and northwest of Gilstad Lake to sandy loams north of Lookout Tower Rd and between the Mississippi River and CCC Camp Rabideau to poorly drained muck underlying the Nushka sedge fen and the many shallow wetlands adjacent to the road. The Chippewa National Forest (CNF) has mapped the soil units into “phases” which recognize the association between a plant community and a particular soil type. (Appendix A) Vegetation Pollen cores taken from bogs and wetlands in northern MN indicate the successive forest types that developed on the post glacial terrain. Pioneering spruces, willows, lichens and mosses began to cover the freshly deposited sands and gravels in the cold, arctic-like open vistas of kames, eskers, and vast wetlands. Moderating climate fostered establishment of pines and aspen. During the subsequent 10,000 years, warm dry spells favored oaks while intermittent cool moist periods encouraged conifers. For the past thousand years, mesic mixed forests of northern hardwoods and boreal conifers have dominated this region. Conditions were ideal for growth of large red and white pines that sprouted after fires. Decades of forest growth were periodically interrupted by catastrophic forest fires and more frequent light spring burns that reduced litter accumulation. Windstorm events created sunlit gaps that allowed understory saplings to reach canopy height. Pre-European Vegetation Management Native Americans have been an integral element of this landscape since the glacial ice melted. We know that they routinely initiated fires to clear the forest understory, invigorate fruit bearing shrubs like cherries and plums, and perhaps to maintain forest openings in order to concentrate deer and elk. As the Ojibwe expanded into MN in the 1700s, they seeded lakes and river backwaters with wild rice. European Settlement and Changes in Vegetation Northern MN was settled rather late, compared to the other Midwestern states. The Public Land Survey didn’t begin in Beltrami County until the mid 1870s. The first landholders were the timber companies which immediately claimed the pine stands and began harvesting the large old growth white pines. Both short railroad spurs and horse-drawn sleds hauled out millions of board feet of timber to the network of

  • 2

    lakes and rivers or to major railroads, transporting the timber to mills in Bemidji, Brainerd, Little Falls, Grand Rapids and down to the Twin Cities. By the 1920s, the initial logging had petered out and homesteaders settled in the forest. With handsaws and horsepower the settlers cleared fields in the forest for livestock and crops. The open fields visible along the Byway date from this era. Post-logging fires cleared even more of the landscape, to the extent that most of the forest we see today is less than 100 years old. Dominant tree species are early to mid- successional species like trembling aspen, balsam fir, paper birch, and sugar maples and basswoods. Durable, charred stumps of the old growth white pines hint at the grandeur of the presettlement forest. Construction of Highway 39/10 The Scenic Highway is one of the oldest roads in the county. Deep beneath the bumpy stretches through wetlands you’ll find the original corduroy road bed constructed on timbers laid crosswise. Major reconstruction of the Byway began in the 1950s, with regular surface maintenance continuing to the