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Managing Town Forests

Town forests are often legacies of the past, when the land helped feed and employ indigent residents. Now towns manage their lands for recreation, sustainable forestry, and income.

Can we practice forestry on the land, while maintaining our recreational uses?

Many towns do. Successful programs involve public outreach and education about the forestry activities. A portion of a town parcel may be reserved from timber harvesting to protect sensitive sites. Harvesting rarely occurs on each acre more than once every 15 to 20 years.

How can we fund the cost of a management plan?

Most towns we work with utilize cost-share assistance from the Maine Forest Service’s Project Canopy matching grants. A local group, often the Conservation Commission or Tree Board, shepherds a town’s application through the Project Canopy process and pledges to match the grant funds with other income or donated labor or materials.

Can we guarantee timber sale income will be available for other conservation projects?

Maybe. Many towns maintain a unique Town Forest account, through which finances are saved and disbursed. We schedule timber sales to periodically replenish such accounts.

Can local loggers and mills harvest the timber?

To avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, we auction municipal timber by inviting local loggers and mills to view the marked timber and bid on the harvest contract. Generally, since the logging community in any one town is small, we invite honest and skilled loggers from surrounding towns to participate.