Northwest Portage County Woodland Plan
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry has developed a broad, area-wide woodland plan for northwest Portage County with collaborative help from local partners, natural resource professionals, and public input.
- City of Aurora
- City of Streetsboro
- Freedom Township
- Hiram Township
- Mantua Township
- Shalersville Township
Coordinated Woodland Management
The plan provides a framework for voluntary coordinated woodland management across property boundaries of all ownership types. Increased coordinated management among woodlot owners would help address issues stemming from increased forest fragmentation and land division. Two demonstration sites are being developed on locally protected lands within the plan area to display how you can complete recommended woodlot practices on your property and encourage woodland management across boundaries.
Participation is voluntary and open to all landowners however, the focus of the plan is on small woodlot owners. The overall goal of the plan is to maintain healthy woodlands in the area by providing information and natural resource professional assistance to landowners.
Recommendations for Northwest Portage County
Tree Planting: Approximately 38% of the land in northwest Portage County is wooded. While this is higher than the state average, continued loss of woodland cover is a major concern in northwest Portage County due to its proximity to large urban areas like Akron and Cleveland. To offset potential losses in woodland cover, a main goal of the plan is to expand woodlands. The quickest way to expand woodlands is by planting trees.
- Plant trees in unused patches of yard and field.
- Plant trees adjacent to existing woodland patches.
- Plant trees to connect separate woodland patches.
- Plant trees along streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
- Allow unused fields to naturally revert to woodlands by not mowing these areas.
It is important to plant with a diversity of native tree species. A diverse woodlot is better able to handle unforeseen insect pest outbreaks. Also, native trees provide high quality wildlife habitat.
Riparian Woodlots: Northwest Portage County has an abundance of water resources. The region is dotted with glacial lakes, bogs, fens, ponds, and wetlands. Three major rivers traverse the area with two sections designated as state scenic rivers — Aurora branch of the Chagrin and the Upper Cuyahoga River.
In northwest Portage County, approximately 54% of all riparian land is forested. To maintain high water quality and stormwater protection, it is vital to keep these wooded areas and expand them when possible.
- Maintain all existing riparian woodlands and keep them healthy.
- Restore stream bank vegetation and trees in non-forested riparian areas.
- Expand the width of riparian woodlands when possible along streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
Wildlife Habitat: Several rare and high-priority wildlife species found in the plan area are at risk, primarily due to loss of woodland habitat. For example, rare fish and invertebrates found in the area require high water quality; this is supported by woodland habitat along streams and rivers. Woodland habitats are also needed by all of the high priority bird species found in the area. Studies show that cerulean warblers prefer larger patches of forest for breeding habitat, and wood thrush nest success is higher in larger forest patches. Also, prothonotary warbler and Acadian flycatcher make extensive use of riparian forests.
Significant loss of woodland habitat and/or increased fragmentation would likely have a negative impact on wildlife in the area. The diversity of wildlife in northwest Portage County is also threatened by non-native invasive plants. Invasive plants outcompete many of our native plants and form a plant monoculture, which provides minimal wildlife benefits.
- Maintain existing woodlands and keep them healthy.
- Expand and connect woodlands when possible with native and diverse tree plantings.
- Use native plants in landscapes.
- Control non-native invasive plants.
Non-Native Insect Pests & Diseases: The most significant and problematic non-native insect pests and diseases that threaten NW Portage County woodlands are
- Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) – currently not known to exist in the plan area, but ALB was discovered in southwest Ohio in 2011.
- Beech Bark Disease (BBD) – the beech scale has been found in Portage County and one of the associated fungi has been found in Lake County. BBD is an interaction between a non-native beech scale and either one of 2 Nectria fungi.
- Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) – known to exist throughout most of Ohio and in Portage County
- Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) – currently not known to exist in the plan area, but HWA was discovered in southern Ohio in 2012.
- Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) – not known to exist in Ohio yet, but the twig beetles that carry this disease were discovered in southwest Ohio in 2012.
- Viburnum Leaf Beetle – known to exist in Portage County.
- Know how to identify non-native insect pests and diseases.
- Be on the lookout for new suspect infestations, especially of ALB, HWA, and TCD.
- Notify us or the Ohio Department of Agriculture if you suspect a new infestation.
Native Plants/Invasive Plant Control: Northwest Portage County’s native woodland habitat is not only threatened by land-use change and development but also by non-native invasive plants. Some of the most common and problematic non-native invasive plants found in northwest Portage County are
- Maintain diverse native plant communities by planting native trees, shrubs, and plants in your landscapes.
- Work to control the spread of invasive plants by removing invasive plants on your property.