Management Moment: Brush Piles
Have you ever wondered what to do with those branches that are in your yard from the last windstorm, or the cut limbs off of log used for firewood? Consider making a brush pile! These no-cost, simple structures are an effective way to provide habitat for wildlife. Brush piles can be created in any landscape; a forested setting, recently reset grassland, fence row or your own backyard.
There are many benefits to creating brush piles; they provide cover for small mammal and bird species, act as a safe haven from aerial and ground predators, are a good cover during harsh weather events and provide food and nesting opportunities for mammals and birds. Many amphibian and reptile species will also use them for cover.
Brush piles are an easy way to get rid of any excess wood or branches that you may have laying around, and are easy to create! They consist of two parts; the base and top. The base will normally be larger logs, stones or branches laid parallel or in a maze fashion, which will allow animals to enter the pile and provide escape routes if needed. The top consists of finer branches that are laid across the base at different angles and intertwine to thwart off aerial predators and make it harder for larger predators to make an entrance. There's no wrong way to construct a brush pile, get creative with it. Stack a brush pile 10ft. tall or construct a pile that is 100ft. long. As long as you provide ample top cover, it's a beneficial for wildlife.
To maintain the pile, continue to add branches to the top and if you think a pile is getting to big, start a new one! There are many online resources for constructing brush piles online. But do not feel pressured to follow any guidelines, you simply can’t mess one up!