Plum Creek Timber Company and The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have signed an agreement for management of winter habitat for white-tailed deer. Commissioner Roland D. Martin and Paul Davis, General Manager of Plum Creek's Northeast Region, signed the agreement on Thursday, January 4, 2007.
"We are very pleased to have cooperatively developed this partnership with Plum Creek," said Commissioner Martin, "This is a very important step forward and a milestone for the long-term winter habitat management for deer in this region."
The Long-Term Deer Wintering Area Agreement recognizes the importance of proper forest management to sustainable wildlife populations and ensures that important deer wintering areas ("deer yards") will be conserved and cooperatively managed for both sustainable timber resources and critical deer winter habitat.
This Deer Wintering Area Management Agreement with Plum Creek covers over 32,000 acres of forested land in Somerset, Franklin and Piscataquis Counties. The agreement allows Plum Creek to harvest softwood and hardwood while maintaining coniferous canopy cover for wintering deer. Areas opened up through timber harvesting will contribute immediate forage from the tops of felled trees, and sunlit areas for new tree growth, and yearlong browsing.
"Plum Creek is pleased to participate in this voluntary agreement that will benefit the deer herd, wildlife enthusiasts and the sporting community while providing jobs for our employees and a sustainable supply of timber to the many forest products mills in the area" said Paul Davis, General Manager for Plum Creek.
Wildlife biologists consider quality deer winter shelter the major limiting factor in sustaining deer populations in Maine. In addition, properly managed softwood stands provide habitat for a variety of upland wildlife species.
Healthy deer populations in Maine depend on wintering areas that provide shelter and open space at the same time. Evergreen canopies keep snow depth underneath to a minimum and allow deer easy mobility while they conserve energy. Open areas within the shelter portions provide winter forage on which deer depend to survive. Maintaining a strong deer population over time depends on protecting large stands of mature hemlocks, spruce and fir to shelter deer from cold, wind, and deep snow. The agreement allows the company to have a continuous supply of pulp and sawlogs, while maintaining the stands that provide shelter for wintering deer. This is ensured by providing that the wintering area complex is composed of mature, close-canopy softwood stands to provide shelter. The remainder of the yard can be in younger conifer age-classes to provide browse for feeding, and eventually future shelter.
"Plum Creek has voluntarily added two very important ingredients to this agreement that we have not encountered with other major forest landowners," said Gene Dumont, Wildlife Management Section Supervisor with IFW, "One, Plum Creek has turned the land management decisions of the Deer Wintering Areas over to their Biological Staff, and second, Plum Creek has initiated a plan to transfer this agreement to the next landowner in the future. These are very significant initiatives, that highlight Plum Creek's commitment to the agreement."