This post is part of a series that highlights the making of our forest management plan for Otter Point Woods.
We were fortunate to expand the footprint of Otter Point Woods this fall, adding another 12 acres for a total of about 30 acres.
As I update the forest management plan, I’m realizing that I don’t have a good sense of the size of the property. I want to know the acreage of the different parts of the property, which led me to creating new property maps.
I’m using a free software package called QGIS, which has been fun to learn. I haven’t used geographic information system (the ‘GIS’ in QGIS) software in forever, and was happy to dust off skills that I haven’t used since teaching a community college GIS course more than a decade ago.
If you read the earlier post on the history of Otter Point Woods, you may remember how the property is someone unique because much of the property is a peninsula surrounded by lake. And that much of the land (the west half) didn’t exist in the early 1900s and was created by sediment deposition. This still blows my mind!
I often describe the property as a mix of woods and wetlands, which is true. The new parcel adds an old, abandoned field to the mix, and I’m working to re-brand this area as “the meadow” to differentiate if from “the field” that we already had. And it really is a meadow with a ton of wildflowers: milkweed, Canada goldenrod, asters, and lots of things I need to learn to identify.
The mapped property acreage comes to 30 acres. This is comparable to the surveyed values, which makes me feel good given that it’s hard to determine where the many squishy wetlands become more wet (water) than land. This is broken down into the following cover types:
- Bottomland hardwood forest = 17.4 ac
- Field/Edge = 0.9 ac
- Meadow = 4.5 ac
- Lawn/Grass = 1.7 ac
- Wetlands = 5.5 ac
Of course, this is really still an approximation. The bottomland hardwood forest includes a wide range of habitat types, including lots of tag alder wetland in low areas and along the shorelines. And the lawn/grass category includes everything from an actual mowed lawn around our cottage to tall patches of weeds that resemble the plant communities in the meadow.
But these general areas do delineate different units or zones that will dictate our management actions, and I’m excited to move onto that stage of planning! Stay tuned for more details on what we have planned for each area…