Dispel the Myths
Help dispel the myths about White Township's proposed timbering project of the White's Woods Nature Center.
MYTH: There is no benefit in an “older growth” forest (80–100 years old) like the WWNC.
MYTH: Everyone knows that "old growth" forests provide essential benefits for the region - and for the whole world! However, only 7 percent of American forests can be classified as “old growth.”Experts agree that we pretty desperately need old growth forests—particularly for carbon sequestration.
Beyond Old Growth—Older Forests in a Changing World A synthesis of findings from five regional workshops - National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry
MYTH: Logging is necessary for a healthy forest
Many old growth forests are healthy without timbering, in fact they are healthy because timbering is prohibited.
Learn more about the benefits of avoiding timbering.
MYTH: Dead trees need to be removed
The facts: Dead trees are an important part of the ecology of the forest, providing habitat to mammals and birds and restoring nutrients to the soil.
Dead trees can play an important role. In fact, they should be left in the forest.
MYTH: If you know how to manage one forest, you know how to manage them all!
There is quite the difference between managing a forest for commercial timber growth and managing a forest for…..well, a host of different management goals. Management plans depend on management goals, such as:
preserving a natural areas,
promoting visits by humans,
promoting songbird or wildlife habitat,
promoting older growth,
maximizing carbon sequestration, or
trying to maximize the long-term growth of commercial timber.
Because most western Pennsylvania landowners have, for the last century, managed woods for commercial timbering, the erroneous belief that there is only one way to managing a natural area forest is not uncommon. But it’s a myth!
See more information:
National Natural Areas Association
Family Forest Carbon Project
MYTH: Opening the canopy to allow sunlight to get to the floor of the forest, is necessary for a healthy forest.
The Facts: This is simply not true. Appalachian Forestry Consultant Mike Wolf explains in his June 24, 2021 and his July 2, 2020 assessments of the WWNC and the Township draft stewardship plan:
“Whatever you add light to is what you will grow... ‘if you want to know exactly what will grow back after a timber harvest it is quite simple—just look at what is on the forest floor before the harvest and you can know for sure. If there are invasives, you will grow invasives. If there are competing plants, you will grow competing plants. If there is nothing, you will make the perfect environment for increased invasives. Even if you kill all the invasive and competing plants first, you should definitely not add any light until you have an abundance of desirable, protected seedlings in place. The reason is simple . . . .the invasives will come back much faster than any desirable native plant that is a target for deer.” And to add to this, if you plant wildflower seed and then add light, you will get both wildflowers (temporarily) and invasives resprouting or germinating. The invasives will dominate after a short term . . .
. . . Millstone’s plan was written to apply to all of White Township properties, and therefore this review (below) can apply to all locations. However, White’s Woods is obviously at greatest risk for catastrophic results.”
MYTH: White Township’s Plans for the White’s Woods Nature Center have “never been about timbering.”
For all three now-rejected White Township plans (1995, 2007–08, 2020–2021), health of the forest is a stated goal, but the repeated quotation of timber valuation reveals the true purpose of each of these plans. All three plans were rejected because they called for excessive timbering (the first time by White Township citizens; the last two times by DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation). The most recent plan is also problematic because of the incompleteness of the plan (as pointed out in the DCNR Bureau of Forestry technical review, March 23, 2021) and the unscientific, unsupported methods for proposed for management of the forest See a detailed synopsis of the proposed harvest for each of these plan—or read each of the plans for yourself
MYTH: White Township didn't really want to “rototill” White’s Woods.
Yes, they did!
The Township forester explained his plan in a Hawkeye interview (6/14/2020). And the White Township Draft Stewardship Plan makes this clear, as well! (see pp. 18 and 23 for plan for “mechanical treatment” of the WWNC; erosion and sedimentation plan for “rototilling;” p.73.)
MYTH: White Township didn't really plan to take 30 to 50 percent of the WWNC forest.
Yes! That is what the White Township Draft Stewardship plan called for. And the documents on which this plan is based make their plan to timber as much as 50% of the WWNC even more evident. See the documents for yourself.
Check back soon! The list of “myths dispelled” will get longer in weeks to come.