Year One of a three-year timbering project on State Game Lands 314 near West Springfield has left some clear marks on the Pennsylvania Game Commission-managed land. The Audubon Society, which has designated the property as an Important Bird Area, indicates that Aspen, American Beech, White Oak, Sugar Maple, Silky Dogwood and Red maple and Silver maple are found on the land.
The 700-acre habitat improvement project is meant to upgrade “early successional habitat” for American woodcock, among other species of birds, on the huntable land roughly bordered by Route 5, Lake Erie and the Ohio State line.
By clearing 17 cuts, the commission means to restart the forestation process, leading initially to habitat in which woodcock can thrive.
That doesn’t mean it’s all that pretty to look at these days, especially on tracts that less than a year ago were heavily forested. Downed trees line the roads and brush piles are heaped in the cuts. Wood chips betray work done since the project started late in summer 2011.
At a glance, the cleared land will both attract and allow easy viewing of migrating birds, especially warblers, that regularly stop at the site but which have been all but invisible to drive-by birders. And there’s still plenty to do at 314 — fishing, hiking, eagle watching, picnicking … it’s an interesting place to tour, particularly for a first-time visitor.
Childs Road has reopened after its closure in 2011. A new drain pipe was laid under the bridge where Childs meets Rudd Road, the main entrance to the game lands, presumably so it could bear the weight of the heavy machinery at work.
However, Elmwood Road, an eastern spur entrance, is closed at Route 5.