MODELING SILVICULTURAL PRACTICES TO PROMOTE HABITAT FOR RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER A LANDSCAPE PERSPECTIVE Trey Schillie, Master of Environmental Management Candidate. Megan Mattox, Master of Forest Science Candidate. Dr. Chad Oliver, Pinchot Professor of Forestry, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 370 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511.
Eglin Air Force Base, located outside of Pensacola, Florida, manages over 500,000 acres of land for a diverse set of objectives. The primary objective is to maintain suitable forest structures and open spaces to support the military mission. Following the mandates of the Endangered Species Act to create and adhere to habitat management plans for listed species is a significant secondary objective. The base currently supports fewer then 300 breeding pairs of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis). This species requires open, park-like stands of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) that historically dominated the landscape and were maintained by frequent, light fires. Fire suppression policies designed to promote Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) resulted in new species composition and stand structure unsuitable to the specific habitat needs of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Using Landscape Management Systems (LMS) in concert with Geographical Information Systems (GIS), land managers can project current forest inventories through a variety of management alternatives. Stand attribute tables generated by LMS can then be referenced against Red-cockaded Woodpecker Habitat Suitability Indices (HSI) to determine the extent of suitable habitat under different forestry practices. Current forest policy on Eglin Air Force Base is to mimic the historical fire regime of light, frequent burns with prescribed burning to promote the conversion of the Sand Pine stands to Longleaf Pine stands. Landscape Management Systems, working with GIS, provides the land manager with a predictive, spatially explicit tool that provides valuable insight to increasing the range of habitat for nesting sites and an optimal population of 500 breeding pairs.