We Need More Trees!

We face TWO issues with regard to trees. The first must be addressed by individual landowners as they own most of the land in the watershed. The second is in the process of being addressed by the City of Baltimore who owns the land immediately surrounding the Prettyboy Reservoir. 

First Issue:

The watershed is currently about 34% forested. That may seem like a lot but it is way too low.  For "excellent" stream health a watershed should be at least 51% forested. A level of 34% is only considered "fair".  Landowners can "up the numbers" by planting more trees on their own property.  As most of the land is in private hands this approach will have the greatest effect on the overall numbers. We encourage you to consider using some of your property for trees.

Second issue:

This deals with the acres and acres of pines that were planted on the City owned land in the 1940's. To address the looming problem this created, a three year study has been initiated to see what happens to 10 acres of forest in the Prettyboy watershed when trees are thinned and deer are kept away (hover over photo at right). The results of the study will measure the forest's ability to regenerate naturally and could become a model for a forest management program for the entire watershed.

Who is doing it:  The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service and Baltimore City's Department of Public Works.

The current situation:  The Prettyboy contains thousands of acres of pines nearing the end of their lives (see photo below).  The pines were planted in the 1940’s and are now so dense that little sunlight reaches the forest floor. Sunlight is necessary for new tree emergence so the next generation forest still exists only as a seed bed under the soil. Those few trees that do manage to start growing are often eaten by deer or engulfed by invasive plant species. As these "same age" pines die, large areas will be left barren.

The study:  Three, 3 acre plots were chosen. One contains white pines that have been thinned; one consists of an oak stand that has been thinned; and the third consists of Virginia pines that were all removed but any hardwoods present were left standing. In each section a tenth of an acre was surrounded by an eight-foot deer fence so the results of deer grazing can be seen.  Look at the photo on the right in the sidebar - deer are excluded from the area on the left side of the fence and a proliferation of oaks and hickory are found.  On the right - well you can see for yourself.

Potential issues affecting regeneration:  Deer browse and proliferation of invasive species crowding out the emergent hardwoods. The results of the study should reveal this impact.