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TUNXIS STATE FOREST
DEEP Forestry Information Page

Brought to you by David Irvin, Forester, CT DEEP

December 27, 2016

 

Hi Hartland neighbors:

Just a notice that the timber harvest on the east side  of Route 179 in Tunxis State Forest, just north of the Barkhamsted town line (see the May 11, 2015 narrative for a map of the area), has re-started.  If conditions cooperate, this hemlock salvage and selection cutting operation is expected to continue for at least the rest of the winter.  No public trails are affected here.  There are also no trail closures in place anywhere east of the Barkhamsted Reservoir in Tunxis State Forest, which is my coverage area.  If readers ever have questions about the West Hartland Block of Tunxis, as well as nearby Enders State Forest, please contact forester Fran Trafidlo, also here at the Pleasant Valley Field Office, 860-379-7085.

There is also a witchhazel harvest proceeding near the end of Pine Mountain Road, which is closed to public vehicular access at this time of year.  Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is an understory woody shrub that is a part of Connecticut’s history and culture.  It has the curious habit of flowering in the fall, and the plant was recognized by Native Americans in pre-Colonial times for its medicinal qualities.  To this day, pure and natural witchhazel is sought worldwide for medicinal and cosmetic products that are manufactured from the astringent.  Over 90% of the world’s supply of this astringent comes from native witchhazel harvested and processed right here in Connecticut!  The harvest occurring on Pine Mountain Road is part of this.  The brush is piled onto a sled in winter and pulled by a small skidder to roadside stacking areas for trucking to American Distilleries in East Hampton.  The harvest of witchhazel is sometimes planned prior to a commercial timber harvest, because removal of the shrub can make an easier and safer sawtimber harvest and assist in the forester’s tree regeneration objectives.  Any harvested witchhazel will also readily resprout and repopulate the site.   This is the third year of active witchhazel harvesting at Tunxis.  The shrub is not removed during the growing season, because green leaves contaminate the astringent.  It is only taken in dormancy, about November to April.  The harvester’s name is Ben Hall, and he was featured in a 2008 issue of Yankee Magazine for his work harvesting and gathering the plant for this unique industry.

 

Thank you, and happy New Year!!
David Irvin, 860-462-8961
David.irvin@ct.gov

 
Autumn flowering of witchhazel
Autumn flowering of witchhazel

Leaves of witchhazel shrubs
Leaves of witchhazel shrubs

May 11, 2015

Notice:

A timber harvest intended to salvage hemlock dying from elongate scale attack, and to convert more than 100 acres to uneven-aged management, will be resuming this week approximately one mile down Pine Mountain Road. This harvest was previously discussed here in another update. This work will hopefully be done by early summer. This harvest is known as “W-380”, and for public safety, the Tunxis Trail (a Blue Trail) will again be closed to all use for the remaining duration of the logging, as it was last year. The trail will be closed between Pine Mountain Road and Robert’s Brook to the northwest, so no thru-hiking will be possible now between Pine Mountain Road and Sunset Road until further notice.

In addition another harvest that includes primarily hemlock salvage and selection cutting in other areas will begin this month on the east side of Route 179 in Hartland, just north of the Barkhamsted town line and across from Sweet Wind Farm. This area is 112 acres, known as harvest # W-383 and does not include any authorized hiking trails and public use areas. Maps of both areas have been provided, and if Hartland Land Trust members and Hartland residents have any questions, you are encouraged to contact me!

The Asian insects, elongate hemlock scale and emerald ash borer are certainly providing impacts in our forests and landscapes that existing Forestry staff are finding very hard to stay ahead of. DEEP will continue to plan based on priorities that include accessibility, forest management and habitat potential, . . . and public safety above all else.

Until the next update, have a great summer!

David Irvin, DEEP Forester
Office: (860) 379-7085
Cell: (860) 462-8961

W-383 Sale Map

W-380 Sale Map

April 26, 2015

Greetings this spring to my friends and neighbors in Hartland!
I certainly owe an apology for the long delay in sending out update.  I have not been keeping you properly updated and will certainly try to be more consistent!  It seems that while our staff continues to dwindle, the issues affecting our forest environment do not, so it has been busy!

All harvests at Tunxis State Forest are currently on hiatus due to spring mud season.  There are some that will restart this summer when conditions dry, and new ones that have not begun at all.  I will send out official notifications when those begin.  There are currently no public trail closures due to harvest activity. 

On the busy insect news front, Emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to spread across Connecticut, and is now known to occur in 6 of 8 counties.  Late in 2014, the wood quarantine was spread to the entire state.  This means it is now legal to move firewood freely anywhere within the state of Connecticut, and the same statewide rule now applies in Massachusetts.  However, ash and firewood can still not cross state lines without a permit and compliance with laws of those states.  And within Connecticut, it is still the law that ANY time any amount of firewood is transported, there must be paperwork in the vehicle declaring the origin of the wood, its destination, and contact information of the transporter (for a ready form to use for this purpose, visit our website and download/print the form.  It can be found at:
http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/forestry/eab/firewoodtransportationselfcertifcation.pdf.  

DEEP must still advise limiting transport of firewood and keeping as local as possible, because despite the statewide quarantine, there are still always undesirable pests that you could unintentionally move. 

While EAB is not yet confirmed in Hartland, it does occur in Hartford County, and the closest occurrences within the state are probably Bristol and Litchfield.  It has also been known in Berkshire County, MA.  If you have ash trees in your yard that you would like to save, I suggest you contact a licensed arborist (one way to find such a professional is to visit http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2710&q=324266&deepNav_GID=1712%20. Then, under “Information for Individuals/Homeowners”, choose “Kelly Registration Systems” and you will be able to search for certified pesticide applicators).  Any protection of your trees must be provided before invaded by EAB, when the known occurrence and “killing front” is still a few miles away.

Meanwhile, another new invader was discovered last month for the first time in Connecticut.  The southern pine beetle (SPB) was found at Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford in March 2015.  Soon after, it was discovered in other communities all over the state, including numerous sites in northern Connecticut as close as Barkhamsted.  This is the furthest north SPB has been known.  It was discovered on Long Island last year. 

Unlike EAB and many other invasive insects of recent years, southern pine beetle (which is only 2mm long) is not from China!  It is actually from the southeast, where foresters have been managing southern yellow pines (loblolly, slash, longleaf, shortleaf pine) in the presence of SPB for many years.  Because it is native to eastern North America, it is not a government-regulated pest.  But it is a concern to natural resource managers in Connecticut because its primary hosts are “hard pines”, which include red pine, Scotch pine, and the native pitch pine.  The pitch pine sand plain is one of the most imperiled ecosystems and forest types in the state.  It is associated with approximately a dozen state threatened and endangered species.  So while the vast majority of the state’s forests are probably not threatened by this insect, it does pose a potential problem for an ecosystem already in decline, and therefore represents a concern for DEEP. 

Pitch pines grow on extremely sandy soil and ledge, some of the driest and most inhospitable sites in the state.  They have dark rough bark, and often grow in a gnarled or twisted form.  Pitch pine has THREE needles per fascicle or grouping, and have sharp spines on its cones.  Red pine normally has two needles and no spines on cones.  White pine has 5 soft needles and long, narrow cones, also with no spines.
There is early evidence that our winters may limit and control the southern pine beetle, and its success rate at reproducing in some host species is not yet fully known.  Nevertheless, it is a pest to watch and it is likely here to stay.  Although it has been known on Norway spruce, it does not prefer to attack our much more common native pine, white pine. In conclusion, spring has FINALLY arrived after one banner winter . . . but with that comes our annual spring brush fire season!  It would have been hard to believe one month ago, but local fire departments and DEEP Forestry has already responded to a number of fires around the state.  After snow melts and before green-up, the forest floor is composed of dead material that easily dries out for burning because there is not yet a forest canopy overhead to shade the ground and keep the understory moist and humid.  Typically, most brush fires in the state occur between late March and early May.  It is usually the only time of year when our environment can provide rain one day and present a “HIGH” fire danger the next.  So be careful with fire and check your local fire department for a permit before doing any open burning. 
Thank you for your time and attention, and always feel free to contact me for questions, through this website, or directly at david.irvin@ct.gov .

David Irvin, DEEP Forester

In response to southern pine beetle attack, trees defend themselves by exuding pitch tubes that eventually dry and harden into cream-colored resin blobs that look like popcorn all over the tree. This is frequently a successful defense, as many of the “popcorns” will actually contain a beetle trapped inside, literally entrapped and ejected from the tree.

Common sign of emerald ash borer infestation is a heavy stripping of bark from the tree by woodpeckers, going after the larvae. This “blonding” appearance can be patchy or encompass nearly an entire tree. This is a common sight now in parts of Prospect and Naugatuck, where the insect invaded first.

July 24, 2014

DEEP Forestry timber harvest update at Tunxis State Forest:
The 18-acre harvest previously announced in the May 29 update has been completed.  This is the area west of the junction of Walnut Hill Road and Pine Street, off Old Route 20 in the Emmons Grove area.  As a result, Tunxis Trail between Old Route 20 and Morey’s Brook has been reopened to the public.   

Meanwhile, there are now two operations concurrently on Pine Mountain Road, including Don Moon Logging 1-1/2 miles down, and Nate Woodger (Rockwood Ridge Farm) has resumed his 109-acre selection cut/hemlock salvage one mile down, near the junction with the Spur Road.  Neither of these harvests are anything new to the Pine Mountain area, but Woodger was on hiatus from this area for 1-1/2 years. 

As in the other recent logging, an approximate one-mile section of Tunxis Trail will be closed to the public until further notice.  The entire Blue-blazed Trail stretch between Pine Mountain Road and Roberts Brook is now closed.  In addition, Pine Mountain Road itself, which is normally open to the public at this time of year, will likely remain closed for public safety due to log truck traffic until at least mid-September, when the department hopes to be able to reopen the gate for hunting seasons. 

If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact myself at any time!
David Irvin, 860-379-7085. david.irvin@ct.gov

May 29, 2014

A new timber harvest for DEEP Forestry begins on May 29 at Tunxis State Forest.  This harvest is accessed via the so-called Emmons Grove Road, which is also Tunxis Trail, out to Old Route 20 (Walnut Hill Road), due west of East Hartland Center. 

The cutting will occur on 18 acres, for hemlock salvage and conversion to uneven-aged management (single-tree/group selection).  Most of the hemlock is dying from attack by the Asian elongate hemlock scale.  The area will be cut again every 25 years, to produce a diverse stand with at least 3 distinctly separate age classes over time. 

The harvest is being operated by Adam Cross (Lower Berkshire Land Development) of Granville, MA, and the duration is expected to be 3-4 weeks, weather pending. 

During the harvest, as in the case of another harvest that used the same access a couple years ago, the section of Tunxis Trail between Morey’s Brook and Old Route 20 will be closed to the public.  Old Route 20 will also be closed, and signs are in place at the site.  CFPA has been asked to post a notice of trail closure on their website.  In addition, the Hartland town hall has been notified of this operation. 

Meanwhile, Don Moon Logging continues to thin an oak and mixed hardwood area 1-1/2 miles down Pine Mountain Road.  The majority of this harvest is done but is not currently in operation due to wet ground conditions at this site. 

December 2, 2012

Greetings, from your neighborhood DEEP forester!  My apologies to all for the long delay in submitting another update on the “Good To Know” site for Land Trust members and Hartland residents.  It has been a busy and eventful year for us in the Department.  Besides damage by recent Hurricane Sandy, we have been dealing with a storm of another kind, on six legs:  the subject of my last invasive insect report in February was the elongate hemlock scale, but since then, emerald ash borer (EAB) has been discovered in Connecticut.  It was found in July in 4 towns, Prospect, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, and Bethany, and was more recently found in Waterbury.  While this was not unexpected, the sobering realities still seem hard to accept.

The EAB is an exotic insect accidentally introduced from China, likely through wood packing materials that were untreated, in the same way that Asian longhorn beetle was brought here.  The insect first escaped into our environment in Michigan over a decade ago.  Since then, it has killed millions of ash trees in the Midwest and has spread to 18 states.  Although the insect flies and spreads readily on its own, most of the rapid geographic spread is attributed to new “satellite” populations introduced by human transport of firewood (therefore the campaign in recent years to stop movement of firewood).  Until 2012, the closest to Connecticut that EAB was found was west of the Hudson River in New York state. 

EAB feeds on all species of true ash (genus Fraxinus) and usually kills trees within 2-3 years.  It is an elusive insect that can work without detection, considering most signs and symptoms of EAB overlap with ash yellows and ash decline, a disease and phenomenon respectively that is already causing the decline of many ash throughout Connecticut.  The damage is done by the larvae, which bore through the living cambium of the tree, between the inner bark and outer layer of wood, creating galleries that eventually girdle the tree and cut off its nutrient supply.

Emerald Ash Borer is small, only 1/3-1/2” long

Emerald Ash Borer is small, only 1/3-1/2” long

Example of typical EAB larval galleries, which are distinctly serpentine in form.

Example of typical EAB larval galleries, which are distinctly serpentine in form.
While the objective in managing the Asian longhorn beetle (which has occurred in Massachusetts and N.Y., but not Connecticut yet) is complete eradication, the program for managing EAB is one of “Slow the Spread”.  It is an unfortunate inevitability that EAB will spread across the entire state and likely kill at least most of our state’s ash trees.  However, the states and federal government are imposing new regulations and quarantines to slow and control this rate of spread in order to spread out the costs associated with this crisis for the sake of citizens and municipalities, and to postpone the insects’ destruction long enough so that perhaps more effective biological controls can be discovered and introduced.  At present, although there are native wasps and woodpeckers that prey upon the insect, these controls are ineffective for reducing EAB’s growth and spread.
New Haven County is under quarantine as a result of the EAB findings in 5 towns.  This means that no ash logs or products, or firewood of any species, can legally be taken out of New Haven County unless by permit from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, certifying that the wood has been heat treated, chemically treated, chipped to less than 1” in two dimensions, or all bark and at least ½” of wood removed.  In addition, although Hartland is part of Hartford County and not currently affected by a quarantine, there are new firewood regulations that impact movement of wood anywhere in the state.  Transport of firewood now requires some verification of the wood origins and destination.  While this sounds imposing, it’s a self-issued verification process that can easily be done by anyone in several minutes.  To make it easier, D.E.E.P. has provided a form entitled “In-State Firewood Transportation Self Issued Certificate of Origin”, which is available upon request or directly from our website, right on the home page of emerald ash borer information (see details in paragraph below).  Just fill out your contact information, the wood’s source, where it’s headed, and keep with you whenever transporting wood.  This is now law and expected of all, whether it’s a log truck or a local homeowner hauling a little firewood in a pickup across the same town. 

EAB larva chewing its way through the cambium.

EAB larva chewing its way through the cambium.

In 2013, DEEP Forestry and the Ag Station hope to initiate an extensive “delimiting” survey to determine the extent of the infestation to date.  This survey will involve the felling and removal of sample ash trees and the removal of bark from the bolts to search for EAB larvae and galleries. 

What should you do?  Don’t move firewood, whenever possible!  If camping, don’t bring your wood with you from another town or state.  Buy as locally as you can.  The less transport of wood, the better.  And be on the lookout for ash trees in decline and the normal, if cryptic, signs—the bark splits, galleries under bark, D-shaped exit holes, abundant woodpecker damage on ash, witches’ brooms, top dieback of trees—all of which are discussed on our website:  Simply go to www.ct.gov/deep , and there is a link on the home page for “emerald ash borer” that provides an abundance of information, including visual, and contacts for reporting suspicion of infestations.  I suggest that you report any findings directly to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, at (203) 974-8474, or e-mail CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov .  They prefer that you send digital photos of insects/evidence if at all possible. NEVER transport suspicious insects or potentially infested wood.  Send only photos and invitations for further on-site investigation.

From a management perspective, the strategy that state land foresters hope to adopt is NOT to cut as much ash as possible prior to the invasion of EAB, and we are recommending that private land owners and land trusts do the same.  Research by the USDA over the past few years shows that preemptive removal of stands of ash can increase the rate of spread of this insect geographically.  The adults can and do fly, up to a mile a day if necessary, and removing large volumes of ash simply means they fly further to find food.  What is known and suggested by the USDA Forest Service, is that larger trees seem to be more attractive and useful as EAB nurseries, so it is suggested that removal of a few of these large trees with greater “phloem surface areas” while retaining a scattering of smaller trees throughout the forest, might assist in slowing their population growth and spread.

Thank you for your attention, and always feel free to contact me if you have any questions:  david.irvin@ct.gov, office (860) 379-7085.

The author (baseball cap) assisting with bark peeling of ash bolts in Middlebury, during recent attempt to survey for EAB larvae at state park campgrounds, where introduction of the insect through firewood has a higher potential.  Note already-peeled bolts in background.

The author (baseball cap) assisting with bark peeling of ash bolts in Middlebury, during recent attempt to survey for EAB larvae at state park campgrounds, where introduction of the insect through firewood has a higher potential.  Note already-peeled bolts in background.
     

 

Links

CT DEEP Forestry Division
Ask Dave, Burlington Land Trust
 

Past Entries

December 27, 2016
May 11, 2015
April 26, 2015
July 24, 2014
May 29, 2014
December 2, 2012
February 14, 2012
February 9, 2012
April 30, 2011

 

 

February 14, 2012

Hello once again, Hartland residents, friends, fellow outdoor enthusiasts and Land Trust members!  It was just days ago that I finally posted my second entry on the DEEP Forestry Division information page here on the HLT site.  And now I have another announcement to make.  There is a second state forest timber harvest beginning at Tunxis later this week.  This one is at the end of the Pine Mountain Spur Road.  For those of you who may not know the forest roads so well, Pine Mountain Road begins at the state forest wooden shield sign on Route 179 in Barkhamsted.  The Spur Road forks to the right off this main forest road about one mile down.  The Spur Road is dead end, and that’s where the harvest is taking place, on 41 acres of mixed forest. 

 

The objective of this harvest is to salvage hemlock dying from elongate hemlock scale attack and to thin other areas in what I am calling a “pre-shelterwood thinning”.  This will be the last time any thinning takes place in this stand (a “stand” is a grouping of trees of similar character, such as same age or similar species composition), composed of hemlock, white pine and mixed hardwoods.  The next time Forestry actively manages the same area, the objective will be regeneration of a new even-aged stand for the next generation of trees.  A “shelterwood” system does this in two or three phases over a period of a few years.  The first cut removes all of the understory smaller trees to open up the forest floor to full sunlight, which the regeneration needs to become established and survive.  As much as half the overstory canopy of larger trees is removed for sunlight, and some overstory is left strategically to provide both a seed source and partial shade for the seedlings.  This system works particularly well to regenerate oak.  The final phase of harvesting under the shelterwood system removes the remaining overstory trees to fully release the young regeneration, which by then should be over head height and stocked at hundreds of stems per acre. 

 

Elongate Hemlock Scale

Elongate Hemlock Scale

This regeneration will get an early head-start in this phase of cutting due to the heavier than hoped hemlock salvage, however.  Unfortunately, the elongate hemlock scale is taking hold in the Hartland area and has begun to cause the decline of hemlock in numerous areas of Tunxis State Forest.  Like the better-publicized hemlock woolly adelgid, the scale is an exotic insect from Asia.  You can find the tiny insects by looking on the underside of flattened hemlock needles.  The scale will appear as tiny tan or brown elongated flecks.  Some needles can host more than a half-dozen of the insects, which is a sign of heavy infestation.  Even during the height of hemlock losses to adelgid a few years ago, the worst damage was in areas of both scale and adelgid attack.  But only recently has scale seemingly been killing trees in nearly complete absence of adelgid.  Woolly adelgid is now difficult to find at Tunxis, as the insect will be repeatedly “killed back” during cold winter spells where the temperature drops at or below zero Fahrenheit, something relatively common in this area.  But scale has no such winter limitations and few predators of any effectiveness.

 

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

One predator that is known to feed voraciously on the exotic scale insect is the twice-stabbed ladybug.  These are the size of the better-known red and black ladybugs, but have a jet black shell with two small orange or red spots, one on each wing.  If you see one of these beetles in your backyard, let it go to continue being the valiant little warrior for our forests! 

U.S. Forest Service research has shown that salvage of trees dying from attack can slow the progress and rate of spread of the scale insect.  In addition, the sooner these trees are harvested, the sooner a new forest can begin to occupy their space, as hemlock chemically inhibits growth in their understory. 

This operation is beginning in mid-February and will probably go on hiatus for spring mud season.  It is expected to resume to completion in mid-summer.  It is the first of a series of efforts to salvage those areas of hemlock that are beyond survivability at Tunxis.  Pine Mountain Road is closed to the public in winter due to snow and ice, but if venturing down the road later in the year, all are advised to avoid the Spur Road while the harvest and trucking is in progress, for safety. 

 

Twice-stabbed Ladybug

Twice-stabbed Ladybug

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

David Irvin, DEEP Forestry Division

 

February 9, 2012

Happy winter to all Hartland Land Trust members and Hartland residents!  Sure looks different from this time last year, doesn’t it? 

It’s been a long time since I posted my introductory entry for the HLT website to launch what was supposed to be “regular” updates.  But it was a busy and unpredictable year in the Forestry Division, as it was for most of state government.  In fact, Forestry is now part of an all-new merged department.  D.E.P. is now D.E.E.P., the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  But our mission in Forestry to manage and protect our native forest resources continues.  In State Lands Management, D.E.E.P. foresters have the objective of managing state forests to produce a diversity of native ecosystems, which includes a diversity of wildlife habitat, forest cover types and age classes across the landscape.  Diversity helps protect our forest resources from severe damage that can result from catastrophic storms, insects and disease.  The results of these impacts in a forest that is roughly the same type and same age is far more devastating, and therefore the goal of breaking up this “monoculture”.  Although not everyone in Hartland saw the worst impacts in backyard woods, it is doubtful that few can argue the potential for damage in the wake of 2011’s Irene, followed by the October snowstorm.
  
It is also our mission to sustainably  provide a source of local Connecticut Grown wood products for our economy as a by-product of forest management activities.  Besides the recreation and positive benefits of watershed protection we all enjoy, our local state forests also serve as places for a wide variety of research on forestry techniques, plant and wildlife species, and many other environmental parameters that can vary from insect life cycles to global climate change effects.  The serve as demonstration areas for forestry that can be practiced elsewhere in Connecticut and beyond.  And they serve to protect culturally and naturally significant sites, rare ecosystems, and endangered, threatened and special concern species on both the state and federal levels.

For more information on our state forests and the services the Forestry Division has to offer, you are encouraged to visit our website at www.ct.gov/deep, and go to the “Environmental Protection” side of the website, or you can try the link provided at the side of this page.

I would like to announce that a timber harvest that was on hiatus for the past year will be resuming approximately Tuesday Feb. 14.  This operation may continue through the remainder of this winter and most of the summer before concluding.  It is located off the north side of Walnut Hill Road and the Old Route 20.  Most of the cutting and hauling of wood will now come from Old Route 20, which begins just past the intersection of Pine Street and Walnut Hill Road.  Therefore residents may find that this old road (which now only accesses state forest and MDC property) will soon be posted as closed while the timber harvest is in progress, for public safety.  Logs will be hauled out of the woods up part of this old road on a machine called a forwarder and hauled away by truck.  The forwarder will be making its way out of the woods on the old roadbed known as Emmons Grove Road, which connects to Old Route 20.  Emmons Grove is also Tunxis Trail, a Blue-blazed Trail managed by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA).  This section of trail will be posted as closed to the public while harvesting is in progress for the next few months, and residents and visitors are strongly recommended to abide by this closure for your own safety.  This closure notice is also posted on the CFPA website.  The section that will be closed starts at Old Route 20 and goes north about 3,000 feet to Morey’s Brook, before the Balance Rock Road area.  We realize that this is an inconvenience to anyone wishing to “thru-hike” the area, but want everyone to just be safe and realize that this harvest is a temporary inconvenience that will be over this year.  Then the area is likely to be left alone for years to come.

The objective of this harvest is to regenerate 85 acres into a young mixed forest, with as much white pine and hemlock as possible in the new stand.  This is the final phase of the multi-phase regeneration harvest that began a decade ago.  The operation has been on hold for a long time, first due to the deep snow last winter which made safe logging difficult.  Then most of 2011 and early this winter has provided an abundance of rainfall and unusually muddy ground conditions, which also have not been conducive to harvest work.  The timber harvest is being operated by Carl Clavette Logging of Harwinton, which utilizes mechanized harvest equipment that operates more efficiently and safely to harvest trees, and generally does so with less impact to the soils, residual trees and regeneration.  Commercial timber harvests on state land are put up to competitive bid among approved and certified Supervising Forest Products Harvesters and Foresters that may represent themselves or companies such as lumber mills.  Loggers, as well as foresters in Connecticut, must be certified by the state and only certified practitioners can bid on state timber sales.  Certification entails passing a written examination and maintaining professional standards of conduct, as well as obtaining regular Continuing Education classes and workshops relating to the profession.

All timber harvests like the one off Walnut Hill are specifically prescribed in long-term forest management plans developed by D.E.E.P. foresters.  The first step is to design a forest inventory of an entire state forest or major block of the forest, and collect a wide variety of data at numerous random sample points throughout the forest.  “Stands” are delineated to divide up the forest into smaller parts based on common cover types, age classes or other characteristics that make some areas distinctly different from others.  Data collected in each stand, such as density and overall health, is “weighed” against the same information collected in the other stands, and priorities are determined as part of the planning process.  For example, some areas may have many trees in decline from insect attack, and this would be an area that deserves more immediate attention.  A stand may have many healthy, quality young trees but it’s too crowded and needs to be thinned.  Those areas that need attention the most would be prescribed for work in the next 10 or 20 years under the long-term management plan.  Harvests that you see in our state forests are not at all arbitrary.  Usually, the work was planned years ago, and in some cases perhaps a couple decades ago.  Stands may be managed in a cutting cycle of work that involves regular harvests every 20 years, and there are stands in our state forest system that have been managed for more than a century. 

Thank you for your attention today, and if you have any questions about the ongoing timber harvest or anything else discussed in this entry, please feel free to contact me!  As always, you can reach me at the Pleasant Valley Field Office, 117 W. River Road, PO Box 161, Pleasant Valley, CT  06063-0161, phone (860) 379-7085, e-mail david.irvin@ct.gov  .  Unless, of course, I’m out in the forest somewhere.

See you in the woods,
David Irvin, EP Forester I

 

April 30, 2011

Welcome to a new regular posting on the HLT website presented by the DEEP Division of Forestry. My name is David Irvin and I am the forester responsible for management of the majority of Tunxis State Forest, which at nearly 10,000 acres, has a prominent place in the landscape of Hartland. I want to thank the Hartland Land Trust for providing this opportunity, as I spend a great deal of time working in the woods of your community, and I think of everyone in Hartland as mine and DEEP’s neighbors.

It is my hope that this site will become a place that land trust members, local outdoor enthusiasts, and curious neighbors can turn to find out the latest happenings and plans regarding Tunxis State Forest in their backyards. As a forester in the State Lands Management program, my primary duties are writing and implementing long-term forest management plans for state forests, which includes collection of extensive forest inventory data, maintenance of property boundaries, firewood permitting, and administration of timber sales on state land. There are likely few in the community that are not already aware of the fact that DEEP carries out timber harvests in different parts of the state forest on a regular basis, but few may understand or realize the reasoning and objectives behind this work that has proceeded on a sustainable basis for decades. I hope to help by providing a broad understanding of the goals of DEEP in actively managing forest land, as well as discussing specific objectives of each harvest that begins at Tunxis in the future. This will be a place to check for notifications of harvests starting and concluding, and for any trail closures that may be a direct result, for public safety. Any Blue-blazed Trail closures or cautionary advisories will also be posted on the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s (CFPA) website at www.ctwoodlands.org.

DEEP Forestry hopes to manage forests to produce a greater diversity of healthy, native forests and native ecosystems across the landscape. This means promotion of a variety of forest types, tree species, age classes, and a greater diversity of wildlife habitat, from closed canopy mature forest to early successional habitat such as grass and saplings/brush. It follows that this entails a wide variety of management techniques and harvests, from doing “nothing”, to selection cutting to prescribed fire and clearcutting. Many harvests artificially mimic natural disturbances that have historically helped maintain a diverse landscape. Careful management of natural resources today is increasingly more important as a larger population places greater and greater demands on a limited state forest resource, and development pressures continually reduce the area of unfragmented natural environment that can provide for representative native ecosystems. For example, early successional habitat is a type most lacking in Connecticut as most of our forests have matured in the past century, something that the state’s Forestry and Wildlife Divisions are both well aware of. In addition, oak forests are not regenerating on a wide basis and are predicted to decline dramatically in acreage in the next century due to a lack of management to sustain them. Oaks are very shade intolerant and disturbance-dependent, and without the heavier types of harvests that favor their regeneration, current oak stands are gradually giving way to birch/red maple/beech forests. For more information on oak management concerns, visit the Ask Dave section of the Burlington Land Trust website.

At present, there are two active timber harvests taking place on the East side of the reservoir, but both are on “hiatus” due to spring mud season. Both involve trail closures during at least part of their duration. One harvest is an 85-acre regeneration cut off Walnut Hill Road, intended to grow a new forest. DEEP hopes to regenerate a mixed stand of trees that include mostly conifers (white pine and hemlock), but with some acres primarily in deciduous trees (hardwoods). This harvest should be done during summer or fall 2011 if conditions prove to be reasonably dry. The portion of Tunxis Trail (a Blue-blazed Trail) that heads north from Walnut Hill Road (Old Route 20) through the so-called Emmons Grove area will be closed for public safety beginning sometime this summer if all goes as planned. It will be closed between Walnut Hill and Morey’s Brook to the north.

Another harvest off Route 20 north of East Hartland Center (behind the DOT facility and roadside parking area for the Blue Trail) is taking place to convert 21 acres to uneven-aged management through selection cutting. This area will be harvested every 25 years to produce a mix of 3 or more distinct age classes of trees and a truly diverse forest that is attractive to wildlife which takes advantages of the smaller canopy openings and small-scale disturbances prevalent in this system. In this operation, approximately 600 feet of Tunxis Trail beginning at the Route 20 parking area is currently closed and will remain that way until the conclusion of the logging later this year.

There are plans for other harvests in the near future, which can be discussed during future entries, mostly including thinning work in the forest and hemlock salvage. Hemlock is a very prominent part of Tunxis State Forest, but unfortunately, the nonnative elongate hemlock scale is causing the decline and demise of hemlock is a few areas. Many of these hemlocks fared well during the hemlock woolly adelgid onslaught, but are succumbing to the scale insect that may prove to be even more damaging on a widespread basis in areas of New England where the cold winters limit adelgid but not scale. More of this may be discussed in the future!

I want to thank you for your attention and look forward to our future chats. Note that you may contact me directly at any time for questions or comments at david.irvin (at) ct (dot) gov, call my office at 860-379-7085, or write to us at DEEP Forestry, PO Box 161, Pleasant Valley, CT 06063.