The Forest Society is conducting a timber harvest this summer on our Black Mountain Forest, which straddles the Sutton-Warner town line, and contains one of the hiking trails to the summit of Mount Kearsarge. The land is permanently conserved and was acquired in 2010 by the Forest Society with help from numerous individuals, state agencies, and town partners. An addition to the property was protected in 2016.
Planning for this harvest began in 2012, when an extensive inventory of the property’s natural resources took place and a forest management plan was written by licensed forester Jeff Smith of Butternut Hollow Forestry. This harvest follows the recommendations outlined in the plan for the northeast portion of the property.
The harvest will thin some areas to remove suppressed, crooked, or otherwise undesirable trees and benefit healthier, better quality ones. Other areas with uniformly poor quality trees will be cut using patch cuts (think small clearcuts) up to five acres in size. Still other spots contain a dense understory of young saplings from a harvest under a prior owner, and the remaining overstory trees will be removed in these areas to benefit this younger desirable cohort. Streams and sensitive areas have been mapped and will be protected during the harvesting. Best Management Practices will be followed to protect water quality and prevent soil degradation. The Forest Society has recently done water quality and habitat improvement work on a stream that runs through this forest, adding in-stream wood for brook trout and replacing a washed-out culvert with an upgraded truck/hiker bridge.
The harvest will increase the structural diversity of the forest and of the landscape by increasing its young forest component. After the harvest, patch cuts will quickly grow in with berry-producing shrubs and tree seedlings. Many species of wildlife rely on these areas for food, including moose, black bear, and many species of songbirds. Standing dead or dying trees, and those that have already fallen, are important habitat components, and we aim to retain or increase the prevalence of these features on the landscape where feasible.
The Forest Society is proud to host the Lincoln Trail on our property, which is popular especially for local users seeking a longer, more secluded trail up Kearsarge. During the harvest, the access road portion of the Lincoln Trail will be used for trucking wood out, and we will be putting up signage to alert hikers to this fact. We hope to be able to keep the trail open for most of the harvest, but will likely need to close it for some periods when harvesting nearby would present a safety issue for hikers. After the harvest is complete, we will work to remedy any disruption or impact to the trail that may occur during the harvest.
We have communicated directly with many user groups to make them aware of our goals for this timber harvest. Education about sustainable forestry is a core part of our mission as a non-profit organization, and we are more than happy to talk with folks about this harvest, or any others we conduct on our land. Gabe Roxby is a field forester for the Forest Society, and can be reached at email@example.com or at (603) 224-9945 x 357.