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Who drums for grouse, listens to nocturnal woodcock?

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By The Staff

When hiking your favorite trail in the Hoosier National Forest, have you ever noticed it was no longer muddy, or perhaps a portion of the trail had been relocated? How did the Hoosier staff know to correct the problem? It was a result of trail monitoring. Farther down the trail you cross an area and remember it had been part of a prescribed burn last year. In past years you did not notice all the different blooming flowers that you see now. These new flowers are the result of opening up the forest canopy and allowing more sunlight to reach the ground. Forest personnel are continually monitoring both the trails and other actions done in the forest to be sure completed projects are producing the results that were planned.

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Forest personnel, often with the help of cooperators, monitor many species to be sure actions taken by workers are benefiting wildlife. So far this spring and summer we have people driving routes to listen for American woodcock at dusk; drumming ruffed grouse in the morning and frogs, toads and salamanders in the evenings. We are also interested in obtaining information about bat populations, preferred travel routes and summer roosts, especially those of the endangered Indiana bat. We obtain this information by capturing them at night in mist nets. We are then able to understand the characteristics of the roost trees they prefer. This enables us to better provide this type of habitat.

The Hoosier's monitoring program is conducted to find out how well we are doing in moving the forest toward the desired condition described in our forest plan. The monitoring includes a consideration of the effects of management on the land, the resources, and the communities adjacent to or near the forest. Monitoring and evaluation ensure forest plan direction is carried out. Monitoring results may provide a reason for plan revisions. Monitoring is also designed and to meet the legal mandates in federal regulations.

Monitoring is done to see and record the results of management actions. During the planning of individual forest projects, monitoring questions and things to measure are developed and included in planning documents.

The information collected about each project answers three questions: was the management action done right, did it work and was the planning guidance used correct? By answering these questions we are able to adapt future similar projects to take advantage of the knowledge we learned from the completed monitoring.

Additional information about monitoring and monitoring reports can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/planningdocs/monitoring/monitoring.htm.

For additional information on any of these programs contact me by sending e-mail to dweigel@fs.fed.us or calling (812) 276-4774.

Weigel is forest monitoring coordinator for the Hoosier National Forest.