Two Trees Forestry
Monmouth begins managing its town woodlot
Herb Whittier, Monmouth's Director of Public Works, began thinking about managing the Town's 70-acre boat-launch property after seeing the wind fell several large and vigorous white pines. An enlarged parking area at the boat launch on Cobbossee Lake was expanded and apparently created new wind patterns, causing one pine to fall into another, toppling both. "I looked at the waste of those fallen trees, and thought that this could be happening at other places on the parcel." His thinking prompted him to contact the Maine Forest Service about its Project Canopy program, which provides technical expertise and competitive grants for developing forest management projects on municipally-owned land.
Project Canopy officials suggested that Whittier first develop goals for what he wanted to happen on the land. Herb developed a list of objectives, which included long-term forest management, periodic income, low-impact public recreation, and outdoor education opportunities for students, teachers, and residents. The selectmen and the Maine Forest Service approved his proposal. Ultimately, Two Trees Forestry was awarded a competitively-bid contract to draft a forest management plan and implement a timber sale.
In preparing the management plan, forester Harold Burnett noted several distinct timber stands, including areas dominated by 100-foot tall white pines, others where oaks and maples had regenerated following a 1950s-era clearcut, and several blocks of white and red pine, which had been planted in the 1960s on abandoned farm fields. To achieve the multiple-use goals, Burnett divided the parcel into three distinct areas: two sections will be harvested and one will be reserved. Harvesting will be alternated through the former areas every 10 years. The 20-year cutting cycle will encourage growth of multi-aged, multi-species timber stands. With the two harvest blocks on opposite sides of the access road, the alternating cutting will minimize the disturbance, while striving to maintain a fairly consistent appearance; an important consideration for an area that already receives much public attention.
During the fall of 2008, Burnett marked trees-to-be-cut in the area north of the road, buffered streams and wetlands, and auctioned the stumpage. With demand for some forest products at record levels, many loggers bid well for the contract; the Town will likely earn upwards of $20,000. Winning logger David Swift of Litchfield, began work in late November and has progressed steadily into the winter. The cold and snowy winter has created very favorable conditions for logging.
So as Monmouth's first timber sale nears the mid-point Whittier couldn't be happier. "I think it's great," said Herb when asked about the Project Canopy process and hiring a professional forester to manage the lands. "My crew has way too much to do, and this way we have someone with expertise who knows the people." Herb hopes to see interest from the school teachers and scout leaders, as the potential for this land evolves. There are plans to establish sample plots for long-term measurements and tracking of tree growth, and potential to develop a trail system for easier access to the forest stands.