The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation owns and manages over 7,000 acres of land. We manage these properties to diversify wildlife habitats in many ways, from forestry stewardship to wetland creation. We also proudly manage for several endangered species and we work very hard to develop and sustain our conservation model. We partner with local, state, and federal landowners and organizations.
The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation considers the 7,000+ acres of forestlands managed on foundation properties essential to the survival of a diverse community of plants and animals living there. Mature oak/hickory hardwoods, and stands of short-leaf and loblolly pines, either provide or protect those elements essential to all life – clean air, pure water, food, shelter, and space.
Animals are linked to trees environmentally; humans environmentally and economically. The root systems of these large, vascular plants curb soil erosion which, in turn, protects water quality. Shade from hardwood trees growing in riparian zones help maintain a range of water temperatures acceptable to particular species of aquatic life. As the planet’s breathing apparatus, tree leaves absorb carbon dioxide and, with assistance from sunlight, release life-sustaining oxygen molecules back into the atmosphere. Trees provide food, shelter, and nesting facilities for a multitude of animal species; and stands of conifers provide thermal protection for wildlife during inclement, winter weather. Even dead trees, referred to as snags, are an important component of a healthy, living forest. Not to be overlooked, edge habitat (where the forest meets the field) offers environmental advantages to both predators and prey.
Humans require trees for many of the same reasons wildlife needs them – air and water quality, food, and shelter. That is where forestry stewardship comes into play. Let’s call it tree conservation! The planting and harvesting of trees is a renewable cycle beneficial to both the environment and the economy. In fact, you cannot maintain a healthy environment without a healthy economy (the value of forestry-related products shipped in the United States during 2017 exceeded 280 billion dollars). And synthetics substituted for natural wood products are far more detrimental to the environment’s wellbeing.
The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation practices quality land management, which protects valuable topsoil and water. Certain tracts of mature oak/hickory hardwoods are preserved for wildlife with specific habitat requirements. Pine forests are periodically enhanced by prescribed burns, which removes competitive plant growth and promotes tree growth. Based upon a long-term forestry stewardship plan, such stands are either thinned or harvested to generate revenue used for habitat enhancement on foundation properties. In replanted areas, natural plant succession provides habitat for ground nesting birds and protective cover for small mammals. As the trees reach a particular height, these areas are utilized by another community of animal life that require distinct levels of plant succession.
WBWF properties serve as a model for educating the public about natural resource conservation. Our forestry template is the direct result of methods developed, proven, and shared by state and private forestry organizations, such as the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) and the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF).
Photos below show a prescribed burn. Click here to see what it looks like a year after the burn.
Click on the links below for further information about WBWF activities.
Site release is one method used to manage pine forests.
Loblolly Pine Site Prep and Site Release video.
Creating Property Access Roads
Part of the WBWF’s forestry stewardship plan includes reclamation of loading decks – heavily disturbed sites where loggers mechanically transport harvested trees for loading onto trucks. Upon completion of the timber harvest operation, these barren spaces are converted into productive wildlife habitat.