Important Bird Areas

Sumter National Forest: Andrew Pickens Ranger District

South Carolina

Located in the extreme northwestern corner of SC in Oconee County, the Andrew Pickens District of the Sumter National Forest encompasses approximately 80,000 acres of forest all within the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. Forest types include cove hardwood, upland hardwood, pine-hardwood, white pine and southern yellow pine stands. It is bordered to the west by the Wild and Scenic Chatooga River. It also contains the Ellicot Rock Wilderness Area. The Andrew Pickens District is in close proximity to other important ecological sites in the upper piedmont and mountain region of the state including Caesar's Head SP, Table Rock SP, Jones Gap SP and Jocassee Gorges. Its location as a transition between the upper piedmont and the Blue Ridge Esscarpment give it importance as a region for bird conservation in the state and the region. Several bird species, including Ruffed Grouse, the montane population of Swainson's Warbler (WatchListed) and Blackburnian Warblers and Black-throated BlueWarblers breed only in this region. Some species requiring special management attention (e.g. prescribed fire) may best be onserved on properties such as the APRD where aggressive management strategies might be employed.
Timber monies from harvests on the Andrew Pickens Ranger Distsrict provide important revenue for Oconee County. The area was known as a stronghold for the Cherokee Indians and was settled by Europeans in the late 1700's. The forest also has significant cultural areas such as the Stumphouse Tunnel, important ecologically for bats. The forest is significant socially because it provides an expansive area of forest habitat which is used by thousands of people annually for a multitude of purposes, especially recreation.
The website is http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms/.

Ornithological Summary

Andrew Pickens District of Sumter NF hosts the following WatchListed species during breeding season: Swainson's Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Worm-eating Warbler, Wood Thrush, Prairie Warbler and Red-headed Woodpecker. Swainson's Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Wood Thrush are species associated with the rare cove forest habitat.

Conservation Issues

The Andrew Pickens District of the Sumter National Forest (APDSNF) has within its boundaries the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River and the Chauga River. Both of these drainages susain heavy use by kayakers and rafters and fishermen. The headwaters of the Chattooga, which have been closed to whitewater enthusiasts, are currently under pressure for kayaking accesss. The threat of forest destsruction from pests, such as the hemlock wooly adelegid has serious implications for bird species such as Swainson's Warbler, which often nest in young speci,mens. Deforestation is a minor threat since planning prioritizes management of mature and old growth areas. Early successional habitat has been limited in the recent past as the cessation of large scale harvests have eliminated much of the habitat required by shrub-scrub species such as the Prairie Warbler and Ruffed Grouse. Feral hogs pose a potential threat. Recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding and ATV use have the potential to create adverse impacts should they not be managed aggresively.
Forest planning documents call for monitoring of management indicator species (MIS) to assess impacts of forest management activities. The impacts of various activities and scenarios are addressed in the Final EIS (R8-MB 116D). Point counts have been conducted on the forest in the past and data on species distribution and abundance needs to be assessed. Monitoring needs to continue assessing species of concern such as Prairie Warbler, Ruffed Grouse and Red-headed Woodpecker.

Ownership

Ownership is 100% USDA Forest Service.

Habitat

Outside the Chattooga Watershed, the 59,975-acre management area is located in the mountains and upper piedmont of SC within Oconee County. The dominant forest types in the uplands are Virginia and shortleaf pine and chestnut and scarlet oaks. Eastern hemlock, yellow poplar and white pine often dominate moist areas as coves and streamsides with dense understories of rhododendron and mountain laurel. The area includes portions of six watersheds including the Chauga River, Coneross Creek, Upper Lake Keowee Composite, Little River Composite, Tugaloo River Composite and the Whitewater River Composite. The APRD shares the Chattooga River Wahershed with Georgiaa (Chattahoochee-Oconee NF) and North Carolina (Nantahala NF).
APRD is home to the largest population of Black Bear (Ursa americanus) in the state, and probably increasing. Ginseng (Panax quinuefolia), is in the center of state distribution, sensitive and declining. Small-whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) and smooth coneflower (Echinacia laevigate) are sensitive, endangered planted species. Brook trout (Salvelinus frontinalis) is a rapidly declining sensitive, endangered cold water fish species.
Brook floater (Alasmidonta varicosa) is a potentially sensitive native mussel. Oconee stream crayfish (Cambarus chaugaensis) is an endemic and potentially sensitive crayfish.

Land Use

The Andrew Pickens District of the Sumter National Forest engages in forestsry but the major use of this resource is in recreation. Hiking, canoeing/kayaking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting are but a few of these activities. Sumter's extensive recreational opportunities even extend beyond the forest's official borders. The Chattooga Hiking Trail links with the trail systems of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Sumter's horse trails also link with trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest, creating an opportunity for endless equestrian adventures. But the forest's crown jewel is without a doubt the furious, magnificent Chattooga River, one of the top destinations for whitewater enthusiasts in the Southeast.
Areas of the forest are set aside for wildlife conservation.