Northwood Meadows Timber Harvest

May 2017 Update

The Division of Forest and Lands is in the planning stages to harvest timber and improve wildlife habitat on 81 acres at Northwood Meadows State Park during the late summer and fall of 2017. This project is located in the area west of Dashingdown Road.

When a harvest on state lands is being considered, there are several steps that must occur – this process is far from hasty. First, a forester from the Division of Forests and Lands performs what is called a “prescription cruise.” In this process, the forester measures a sample of trees throughout the woods, while also making note of the health and quality of the forest, sensitive features on the landscape such as wetlands, streams, and cellar holes, and wildlife habitat features such as large down logs and trees with cavities (holes where an animal could nest). During and after the prescription cruise, a plan is developed for how best to treat the forest. This depends on many factors, including health, age, and form of the trees, soil characteristics, insect and disease considerations, and wildlife values. Possible treatments range from selecting individual trees for harvest, to large clearcuts, to leaving the woods alone. Once a treatment is developed, it is presented for review and comment by several state agencies, including the Fish and Game Department, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Bureau, Trails Bureau, and the Department of Cultural Resources. Following this review process, the forester implements the “layout” of the sale, choosing how best to arrange skid roads and harvest areas to minimize impacts on streams and wetlands, while having the most benefit for timber and wildlife goals.

(1) Small stand of sapling-pole sized trees, approximately 40 years old. Trees this size/age make up around 19% of the entire property. Trees smaller and younger than this only occur on about 1% of Northwood Meadows State Park, and represent an important habitat that is lacking on this landscape. (2) Mature eastern white pine stand with hemlock understory. Group selection can promote softwood species such as these for wildlife benefits and timber production.

In this timber sale, groups of trees ¼ - 2 acres in size will be harvested, totaling approximately 19 acres. The forest canopy gaps created by this harvest will allow light to reach the forest floor, helping to establish the seedling trees that will grow into the next generation of forest. Not only is this an important management tool for regenerating certain tree species, but the shrubby habitat structure that develops in the years following such a harvest provides food and cover for a suite of wildlife species.

(3) Porcupine marks on American beech tree. This is one of the more common wildlife signs at Northwood Meadows. (4) Large snag tree in the project area. Features like this are valuable for wildlife and will be retained whenever possible.

This technique, called “group selection,” results in a patchwork of size and age classes across the project area, which serves two main functions. First, groups are selected in a manner that ensures that we will not be harvesting more than can be sustainably grown over time. Second, the structural diversity resulting from these cuts is valuable for wildlife – essentially, if the forest is uniformly composed of older age classes, fewer species can utilize the habitat. Additionally, the area between groups will be thinned, removing some trees to give the remaining trees more space, light, and nutrients to improve their growth and make them less susceptible to insect and disease issues.

For more information on this this project and timber harvesting in State Parks and State Forests, contact Regional Forester, Scott Rolfe at 603-227-8741 or Project Forester, Samuel Taylor at 603-227-8735.