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Arsenal AC Helps Landowner Balance Interests Of Silviculture And The Environment

Abundant turkey, quail and deer that call the forest home. Creating the perfect pine forest means achieving these two management goals. And that's exactly what Brookes Lawton, a forest landowner in Allendale, South Carolina, has accomplished.

“Here, silviculture and the environment are on equal par,” explains Lawton, a former South Carolina Tree Farmer of the Year. “I'm balancing the two.”

Lawton manages 600 acres of land that's been in his family since the 19th century. In the old days, the land stood in cotton fields. But these days, Lawton has turned to timber production and wetlands mitigation banking. A key to pine timber production is controlling the vegetation that competes with the crop trees. Invasive weeds and hardwood underbrush steal nutrients, water, soil and sunlight from the pines. Getting rid of the hardwoods gives the pines room to grow into bigger, more valuable timber.

A traditional way of removing hardwood brush is prescribed burning. As a South Carolina certified prescribed fire manager, Lawton used this method exclusively to manage his pines – until a fellow forester enlightened him about the benefits of Arsenal® herbicide Applicators Concentrate.

Like prescribed burning, Arsenal AC removes undesirable brush without damaging the pines. It allows the growth of beneficial forbs and legumes eaten by turkey, quail and deer. Once free of hardwoods, beneficial wildlife plants recolonize.

In 1999, Lawton used a skidder to apply the herbicide to 35 acres at a rate of 16 ounces per acre. On hard-to-kill hickory, Lawton applied 22 ounces per acre. “Arsenal® herbicide Applicators Concentrate eliminates the hardwood brush competing for nutrients and water,” Lawton says.

“The sweetgum is virtually gone,” he continues. “The hickory, the red maple – the herbicide eliminated all of those. But the partridge pea, legumes and blackberry have all come back wonderfully.” The results impressed Lawton so much that he tripled his next herbicide application to 100 acres in 2001.
Lawton was making good money from his trees when he read about wetlands mitigation banking, the creation of new wetland areas that are then permanently protected to offset the loss of wetlands to real estate development. As a wildlife enthusiast, he appreciated the idea of restoring lost or destroyed wildlife habitat.

With a neighboring landowner, Lawton created a wetlands mitigation bank on a section of 188 acres of land that Lawton bought from his wife's family. He now has restored invaluable wildlife habitat and makes selling wetland credits to developers a profitable venture. But the payoff has been more than monetary.

“One day I stood in one spot and watched bald eagles, wild turkeys and black winged ibises,” Lawton says. “Flora, like panicgrass and lily pads, have come back like gangbusters. I was absolutely enthralled with it.”