Restoration plan for the northwestern portion of Raven Rock State Park, Harnett County, NC

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The restoration tract, the 630-acre Raven Rock State Park Northwest, is located in the Coastal Plain near the Fall Line. The tract is bordered to the south by the Cape Fear River, to the north by Mill Creek, and to the east by Avents Creek, a tributary to the Cape Fear. It is currently forested with four natural community types: Dry Oak-Hickory Forest, Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Piedmont Subtype), Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, and Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest, as well as an old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantation. No longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is present. The management objective of Raven Rock State Park is to restore the tract to the pre-colonization landscape as best as can be determined by natural history, soil, topography, hydrology, and succession, and to establish the Piedmont Longleaf Pine Forest on the landscape wherever appropriate. Until 2002, Raven Rock State Park Northwest was under timber management by Bradley Lumber Company, Willamette, and then Weyerhaeuser. Management units are grouped by natural community evidence, especially species composition, and prior management. The management regime of Unit 1 – Piedmont Longleaf Pine Forest – includes pre-harvest burning, clearcutting, planting containerized longleaf at 7 x 10 spacing, herbicide control of hardwood competition, and burning every 1-4 years after longleaf reaches the canopy in order to restore longleaf to the landscape. In the Dry Oak-Hickory Forest, the stands of existing oak-hickory overstory or understory include recommendations for prescribed burns to control the hardwood understory in Stand 6 and imazapyr application during the growing season in Stands 2 and 8. All loblolly pine should be girdled over a period of 10 years, except within a 100-foot buffer zone of the equestrian trail where it should be harvested. Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) should be retained for the red-cockaded woodpecker. In Stands 12 and 14, which have a loblolly-dominated overstory and oak-hickory understory, the loblolly should be girdled and the hardwood treated with triclopyr. Burning is recommended for wherever longleaf volunteers in from Stand 1. In the Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Piedmont Subtype), the main recommendation in all stands is to girdle all loblolly over a 10-year period because it is not a natural component of this forest type. The 100-foot buffer of the equestrian trail applies here as well. For Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, the recommendations include reduction of the loblolly to 8 percent of the total basal area (Braun, 1950), since the species is naturally found in this community but not in its current numbers. Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) and Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum) exist in both the bottomland and levee forests. The recommendation is to control the invasive vegetation with aquatic glyphosate with surfactant during dry periods to release herbaceous and woody vegetation. The recommendation for the Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest is the same as in the Bottomland Forest: control the invasive plants and release the native understory. Hydrilla (Hydrilla spp.) should be treated annually with fluridone. Best Management Practices and protection of Streamside Management Zones should be adhered to conform to North Carolina Forest Practices Guidelines during all forest management operations.