Economy and Land Use

Current land cover in the basin is 89 percent forest land, 10 percent agricultural land, and 1 percent residential development.

The principal land-use activity on both Federal and private land is timber production. Other land-use activities in the basin include cattle grazing, row-crop farming, road networks, rural residences, and recreation. The only discernible shift in land use during the past 30 years has been the conversion of some farm land into forest land.

The residential population of the basin has remained relatively stable since the HBN station was established, although recreational use, particularly hunting, has increased significantly during the past 10 years. Forest management policies of the National Forest are directed at maintaining the health and abundance of the major pine species and providing habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Pines are harvested on an 80- to 120-year rotation with some intermediate thinning at 20 to 30 years. Tractor logging is the sole harvest method in the basin. Most cuts in the Conecuh National Forest range from 2 to 30 ha in size and are primarily shelterwood or seedtree cuts, although clearcutting was more prevalent in the past. Clearcutting is the most common harvesting method used on private land, and cuts may exceed 200 ha in size. (USGS)