Choate vegetation management project

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Thinnings in 309 acres in in northern hardwood stands, and red pine plantations would open the canopy considerably, which would result in increased understory growth of trees, shrubs, and forbs. For the same reasons listed in the preceeding paragraph the 309 acres of thinning harvest cuts should not have any direct or indirect effects on potential mollusk habitat in the project area.

The maintenance of 362 acres of upland openings will involve the hand cutting and removal of woody shrubs and some tree saplings vegetation to maintain the open condition. The work will involve handcutting of woody. Surface disturbance would not part of the opening maintenance prescription and with no bare soil,there is no chance of soil entering any of the intermittant drainages or permanent streams.

There will be 162 acres of understory scarification for natural conifer regeneration. This work is ground disturbing, many on the seedling and sapling hardwood will be removed. The litter layer will be disturbed and mixed with underlaying mineral soil to provide a seed bed for conifer seed germination and seedling establishment. None of the proposed treatment areas are within the Wild and Scenic River corridor or near any other permanent streams. By following riparian design criteria and BMPs the indirect effects of soil reaching any intermittant drainage can be mitigated and avoided.

There is six miles of new road construction associated with the modified proposed action. Only a small portion of this new constructio will impact a permanent stream and that is where FR6980-D and crosses Redlight creek. This crossing will be designed to minimize the impacts to the stream at the point of crossing to reduce potential sedimentation in the stream. All road/stream crossings woould have cross drainage structures built to insure proper drainage and reduce sediment input into the stream. This project also proposes to fix the crossing of FR 6987 over Redlight creek, by removing the set of undersized culverts, ditching and stablizing the road bed and banks, and placing a ford in the stream suitalble for ATV crossing. This work will repir the crossing, reduce the road bed erosion, and reduce the amount of sediment entering Redlight creek. This alternative will also include road maintenance, reconstruction, and road decommissioning. In conjuction with the road maintenance and road re-construction there will be 23 culvert replacements. The road work in this alternative will improve the transportation system, and reduce the sediment entering Redlight creek, and reduce potential sedimentation for the rest of the transportation system in the project area.

The impacts to potential mollusk habitat as a result of the actions in the modified proposed action are considered to be small and indirect. In the modified proposed action sedimentation is expected to decline in comparison to the no action alternative.

Cumulative effects

Cumulative effects were assesed at the project area scale

There are perhaps three sets of cumulative effects that need to be identified or acknowledged. The first set of cumulative effects are the result of actions that took place during the settlement and logging era of the late 1880 into the first few decades of the 20th century. These actions set the historical context for the conditions of the Ottawa National Forest at the time the Forest was established. The road and rail road construction, logging, use of the streams and rivers as log transport systems, the slash fires, and land clearing for settlement and agriculture created large disturbances in the ecosystems of the Ottawa National Forest. The second growth forests, large amount of sediments in some of the streams and rivers, are just a couple of the residual after effects from this period. The effects on mollusks would have been to change water quality and sedimentation, increasing each. These changes may have elinimated many populations of mollusks and reduced the remaining populations and reduced the available habitat for mollusks.

The second set of effects are those effects that can be attributed to the establishment of the Ottawa National Forest in the mid thirties to about the mid to late eighties. A period of reforestation, managing the second growth forests, and timber harvests.

The third period of cumulative effects runs from the mid 80s to the current time. This a period of timber harvesting , ecological restoration, work in threatened and endangered species protection and re-estblishement.

The contingincies of history have provided the context for the exisitng situation in the project area. The actions in the modified proposed action principally the road decommissioning and fixing the stream crossings and culvert installations would cumulatively decrease the potential for sediment to enter the streams in the modified proposed action. With the curtailment or elimination of sediment inputs from the transporation system, sediment bedload would gradually be transported out of the project and the streams would be begin to provide improved quality mollusk habitat in the project area.
General Odonata (Dragonfly) recommendations and behavioral notes

The majority of stream dwelling dragonfly larvae will be found along the margins of the stream or in backwaters. Undercut banks, snags, and soft muddy areas are the best places to look for larvae. A few species prefer gravelly areas in the mainstream channel, such as the Genus Ophiogomphus. With the possible exception of the mustached clubtail, all of the RFSS dragonflies would prefer areas of the stream with soft, organic bottoms. The mustached clubtail is a burrower and can be found in sandy areas. The main risk to larval dragonflies is the input of inorganic sediment into the stream. Increased amounts of sand and silt would cover or fill the natural hiding places of the larvae and force them into the open. This would make the larvae more susceptible to predation by fish, which are the main predators of larval dragonflies. Management practices that increase the numbers of fish, such as trout, are a potential threat to dragonfly larvae (NatureServe 2000).

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