Why the ‘Let the Sun Shine In’ Program is Helping Indiana’s Woodland Owners Produce More Oak and Hickory Trees

[[{“value”:”Coordinators with the Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association (IFWOA) and the Let the Sun Shine In program share with Indiana woodland owners how to identify oak trees from the acorns and leaves. Photo courtesy of the Let the Sun Shine In program.

 

You may not know that Indiana is home to nearly five million acres of forestland. However, there is a greater need for more oak and hickory trees to populate our forests throughout the state.

“If you look up, you see a lot of mature oak trees, but if you look at the forest floor, there aren’t very many oak trees regenerating,” according to Judi Brown, coordinator of a new program in Indiana called Let the Sun Shine In.

“The program is working with private landowners to encourage them to manage their forests to allow sunshine to reach the forest floor so oak trees can thrive,” says Brown. “Oak and hickory trees need a lot of sunshine to grow, so foresters are encouraging landowners to manage their forests using practices that allow enough sunshine to reach the forest floor to allow oak trees to regenerate.”

She says that without new oak and hickory trees replacing those that have been harvested or naturally replacing those in woodlands that fall due to storms and age, Indiana’s wildlife and ecosystem will be thrown off balance.

“Oak trees have at least 900 different types of insects and caterpillars that live among the leaves and the branches of the oak trees,” according to Brown. “Birds will come because it’s a food source. When a bird is raising a nest, it needs a lot of protein from those caterpillars and insects to feed their babies for them to grow.”

Brown adds that many wildlife animals are dependent upon Indiana’s oak trees for survival.

“Oak trees also produce acorns which is a hard mast crop which supports a whole different suite of wildlife like deer, foxes, and squirrels. They’ll be eating the mast from the oak trees too, so the oak trees support such a diversity of wildlife.”

Click HERE for more information about the Let the Sun Shine In program.

Click HERE for more information about the Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owner’s Association (IFWOA).

Click below to hear C.J. Miller’s full interview with Judi Brown with the Let the Sun Shine In program—as she talks about the importance of regenerating new oak and hickory trees throughout Indiana’s woodlands and forests.

A young oak tree regenerates after a prescribed fire and shelterwood treatments allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor at the Hoosier National Forest. Photo courtesy of the Let the Sun Shine In program.“}]]