Valuable town forests overseen by dedicated volunteers

This year has included quite considerable work on town-owned lands, with a timber sale recently concluded on Litchfield’s Smithfield Plantation, management plans updated for Readfield’s Town Farm and Forest and Monmouth’s Whittier Woods, a recreational trail feasibility study prepared for Chelsea’s Kennebec River property, and a timber sale on Manchester’s Fairbanks Pond property.

As is our policy, timber sold from municipal woodlots is generally sold to the highest/best bidder, as was the case in Litchfield and Manchester, where Richard Taylor and Brown & Brown Trucking were awarded work on those respective woodlots. While on site Taylor hosted several woodlot tours for local school-age children, including demonstrations of logging and portable sawmilling, so that the kids saw how trees are transformed into building materials. The Browns have already improved access to the Manchester lot and are now underway on the gravelly and well-drained property, perfect for the often wet fall-into-winter weather.

Both Readfield and Monmouth continue managing their woodlots for recreation, wildlife, and periodic income, though unfortunately each support growing populations of invasive shrubs and vines, including honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, and Asiatic bittersweet. We prepared control options for each lot, though eradicating such aggressive invaders is challenging. Repeated combinations of mechanical and chemical controls are generally necessary, with monitoring always important to verify whether they return/resprout. Though Chelsea had hoped to develop a walking trail along the Kennebec’s shore, it ultimately proved unfeasible, due to lack of fee-owned access and parking and the often wet terrain.

And so these town-owned lands remain valuable local assets, which are often over seen by groups of dedicated volunteers. It remains a privilege to help these folks protect and manage their historic parcels.