Managing Brush for Wildlife
Many rangelands across the US have some form of brush encroachment which, depending on the landowners perceptions, can be good or bad. Brush management is a strategy that is utilized to achieve specific goals related to land use objectives. Proper brush management techniques ensure that the objectives achieve the goal. To effectively implement a brush management plan, many factors must be considered.
First, the development of a brush management strategy is to identify the property owner’s objectives. The overall plan will vary widely based on the primary uses of the land. For example, a property owner whose primary goal is to run cattle will probably be more interested in removing as much brush as possible to promote grass production. Landowners with more interest in promoting native wildlife may want to implement brush management techniques that such that brush is selectively cut in such a way as to create diverse plant communities and overall habitat diversity.
Surveying Brush Species Prior to Management Effort
After landowner objectives have been identified, an inventory or survey of brush species will need to be completed on the property. When it comes to the right brush management technique, there is no one size fits all brush control strategy. As a result, brush control for wildlife management will need to be targeted specifically to the plant species, its density and the wildlife species that brush and habitat is being managed for. A brush species inventory is essential to the selection of correct brush management techniques and will also be helpful in implementing an overall land management plan.
After brush species have been inventoried, the brush management efforts can be selected and put on the ground. Several techniques for removing brush are available to landowners including mechanical, chemical, biological and prescribed burning. Selecting the right technique or combination thereof will be based on plant species, land attributes, property location, economics and personal preference.
Brush Management for Wildlife Habitat
Although often overlooked, the evaluation of results is also an an essential part of a brush management plan, especially when it comes to wildlife habitat management. Following the implementation of management measures, the effectiveness of selected techniques must be determined. This ensures that the landowner will identify ineffective treatments and adjust the management plan accordingly. This adjustments can occur in many ways.
For example, the method of brush control can be altered, the timing can be changed or the types or amount of brush removed in an area can be rethought. Certain techniques for turkey habitat management may work great, but may not be deemed effective if a landowner is interested in developing better habitat for bedding deer or nesting black-capped vireos.
Brush Management for Success
Brush management can be quite costly and time consuming, and in order to economically achieve the desired results it is important to have a long term plan. Thinking through all of these steps prior to starting ground work will help property owners be successful with their selected brush management techniques on their property. Wildlife habitat management is never a “one and done” kind of event. Rather, it takes on-the-ground and active management to make and keep your property attractive for wildlife.