Lowden Miller State Forest
Prior to settlement days a visitor to the area which is now Lowden Miller State Forest would have encountered a vast oak hickory forest. As the pressure to find new farmland intensified however, many of these oak hickory areas were cleared for agriculture. Yet it was soon realized that much of this cleared area was unsuitable for farming. As a result, a significant portion was planted into pine plantations. In an attempt to return these areas back into their native oak hickory vegetation, the remaining red and white pine plantations currently found in Lowden Miller State Forest need to be manipulated.
The 2,234 acre Lowden Miller State Forest is located in the Oregon Section of the Rock River Hill Country Natural Division. This natural division is characterized by a rugged topography of sandstone bedrock, predominantly forested with an oak hickory cover type. Natural communities found at Lowden Miller State Forest include sandstone cliffs, dry upland forests, dry-mesic forests, mesic upland forests, wet floodplain forests, seep springs, sedge meadows, a high gradient creek, and a medium gradient river. The rugged topography provides a continuum of upland forest communities with associated sandstone pinnacles and cliffs, which rapidly descend to the Rock River basin.
Since the turn of the century, for approximately 75 years, the area was selectively cut for oak production. This practice essentially removed the presettlement forest with the exception of occasional remnants scattered throughout the site, especially on the more rugged, inaccessible locals. Since 1975 the implementation of forestry cultural practices, principally shelter-wood and clear cutting, have resulted in a mosaic of even-aged stands occupying approximately 30% of the site property. Many of the formerly managed areas were subsequently planted into red and white pine plantations and occasional small acreage of yellow poplar, European larch, Douglas fir, Scotch pine, etc. Native oak species are the current major component of disturbed areas that were allowed to naturally regenerate.
There are currently 9 red pine plantations occupying 80 acres on Lowden Miller. The red pine found in these areas has an average diameter of 8.5 inches. This red pine has become stagnant with the health rapidly deteriorating. The clearing of the red pine will allow the oak hickory forest to reestablish itself in these areas. In the past, when red pine plantations have been clear cut in Lowden Miller, there has been a very successful natural reintroduction of the oak hickory forest.
The white pine, with an average diameter of 13.5 inches can be found in ten plantations scattered on 185 acres. The white pine has maintained a healthy posture, therefore, management activities are designed to retain this specie in the forest composition. In order to allow for the developing oak regeneration to be successful, the white pine should be thinned. This will allow an oak-pine forest to develop. Ultimately, the remaining white pine will naturally be replaced by oak hickory forest species.
Threatened or Endangered Species: T&E species are known to exist at the forest, but all harvesting will be from pine plantations artificially established in abandoned agricultural row-crop fields. Locations of known T&E species will be avoided.
Natural Areas or Nature Preserves: As with the T&E species, areas of natural quality do not exist in the pine plantation areas where the harvest will occur.
Cultural Resources: Ground disturbing activities will be minimal. The Departments staff archaeologist has no concerns regarding impacts to these resources.
Wetlands, Ponds, and Streams: These resources will not be impacted by the timber harvest.
The Department of Natural Resources is seeking the input of the public regarding this timber harvest and forest restoration project. A draft project proposal can be obtained by contacting the Departments Division of Forestry or the District Forester at (815) 732-6184.
Written comments may be sent to:
All public meetings conducted by the Department of Natural Resources will be accessible to handicapped individuals in compliance with Executive Order No. 5 and pertinent state and federal laws, upon notification of the anticipated attendance. Handicapped persons planning to attend and needing special accommodations should inform the Department of Natural Resources at least five days prior to the meeting by telephoning or writing the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, Department of Natural Resources, One Natural Resource Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone (217) 782-7616.
Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 362-2/98