Private landowners often want to learn about and see specific management techniques. LSSI is creating demonstration sites as an effort to provide those opportunities. The goal is to create four demonstration sites in southern Illinois and to have at least one demonstration site within a short drive for most landowners.
Trail of Tears State Forest (established 2017)
This 926-acre demonstration site is in the northern part of the forest and has interpretive signage that allows for a self-guided tour. Foresters are implementing prescribed burns and thinning treatments on the site that mimic natural disturbances. A major goal of this effort is to examine whether prescribed fires should come before or after tree thinning.
There are two control sites and two experimental areas.
Burn First: This area will use two-to-three burns before possibly thinning some canopy trees to increase sunlight reaching the ground.
Thin First: This area will begin with selective thinning to remove up to 40% of the trees. After that, prescribed fires will be used to create space for hickory and oaks.
Control: Two sites are designated as control areas, where no management actions are taken.