Wednesday, January 22

10E2311: History of Forestry in Vermont: 1909-1959

Reading this report on the first 50 years of active forestry management in Vermont, and amongst a lot of numbers and committee appointee info are some great nuggets (and fantastic sans serif headings throughout);
"Many [land] owners were willing to have their forests cut selectively and the mill owners preferred to buy logs from such an operation. However the logger or jobber still insists on cutting every tree in site."
The fact was, fire was a much bigger eater of trees than the axe. "It was estimated that at the height of use Vermont railroads burned annually over 500,000 cords of firewood." As well, the railroads of the time were responsible for some of the massive forest fires. 1,000 acre fires were common leading to an appointment of town forest fire wardens – and the creation of trails, with the Green Mountain Club, on ridges to mountaintop lookout stations. The tower on Stratton Mountain was set up in 1913 for example.
"There must be a change in National attitude. Our industries, our land owners, our farmers, all our citizens must learn to treat our forests as a crop to be used but also to be renewed. We must learn to tend our woodlands as carefully as we tend our farms." - President Coolidge [Vermont's son], 1925.
I had always wondered about which stage of growth we see in the Green Mountains - this quote illuminates that a bit;
"Of the land area of Vermont 62.5% or 3,711,100 acres arc covered with forest growth. The forest areas have been cut over several times without too much regard for the next crop. Up until the last twenty-five years chiefly softwoods were taken.  Some areas were cut very lightly, if at all, until the Second World War. Beginning then everything was taken to fill our war needs. 
The result today is a forest area (1) of much timber of the less desirable species, (2) of stands with an insufficient number of trues per acre, (3) with a growth rate of 1/2 to 1/3 of what it should be, (4) with a large volume of timber in the lower diameter class, and (5) with cull timber left from cutting only high quality trees."
Read it all here.

See also my select annotated bibliography of logging in New England.