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Preserving May Brook Glen

Donation of May Brook Glen to Opacum Land Trust
Members of the Hull family stand with MA state senator Stephen Brewer and MA state Rep. Todd Smola at the dedication of May Brook Glen, a property donated to the Opacum Land Trust by the Hull family.

October 2010-

The Hull family has donated a 3.3 acre parcel in Holland, Massachusettts, comprising May Brook Glen to the Opacum Land Trust in order to see the parcel protected from development.

May Brook Glen has over 1,000 feet of frontage on May Brook, which rushes and tumbles over rapids in May Brook Glen and then flows into Holland’s greatest recreational asset, Hamilton Reservoir. The property includes a deep, cool hemlock shaded gorge with massive boulders that contour the river.

The land also holds an important piece of history for the Town of Holland. There are remains of a dam on the property built by Captain Nehemiah May (1730-1793), a signer of the petition to form the Town of Holland. Captain May also served as the first selectman for Holland in 1785.

The donation of this potentially developable parcel to Opacum preserves both scenic and historical resources, and will aid in protecting the water quality of Hamilton Reservoir, part of the Quinebaug River. For more information, visit the Opacum Land Trust online at www.opacumlt.org.

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Why It’s Good to Use Wood

The Myers Pond Forest, managed by Hull Forestlands in Union, CT
Formally managed for timber production, the Hull woodlands provide critical wildlife habitat. The property shown in the above photo offers wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl in Union, Connecticut.

The increased use of wood is one of our most important forest conservation tools. If you’re reading this blog, you may already be aware that working (i.e. managed) forests are the key to forest conservation. But, for those unconvinced, read on.

Increasing the use of wood benefits the environment, economy, and community.   The use of wood provides incentive for private landowners to maintain their forestland, and this land provides public benefits like air and water quality enhancement, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and open space preservation.  Using wood also provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.

When a life cycle cradle-to-grave analysis is performed, wood outgreens every other building material.  It takes less energy to produce than any other building material, it stores carbon throughout its service life, and when its service life is over, wood can be recycled  to produce energy.

Recognizing that the active management of working forests is in the nation’s best interest, the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service are now giving preference to domestic wood as a building material.

Here’s a nifty 90 second video put out by the Danish Wood Initiative that sings the praises of wood, the world’s most environmentally friendly raw material.

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Helping Nature Conservancy Conserve Working Forests

Myers Pond Forest, Union, CT
Formally managed for timber production for over a century, the Myers Pond Forest also provides critical wildlife habitat, including wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl.

March 2009- By conveying an easement on 450 acres of forestland it owns and manages in Union, CT, Hull Forestlands has helped the Nature Conservancy reach its 50,000 acre mark of protected forests, rivers, and coastline across the state.

The conservation easement, established with the help of a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), permanently protects Hull Forestlands’ Myers Pond Forest from development and tips the scales for the Nature Conservancy, which has now protected over 50,000 acres of forests, rivers, and coastline in Connecticut.

Located within the Quinebaug Highlands Landscape, an expanse of unbroken forests and sparkling streams in the northeast corner of the state, the Myers Pond Forest has been formally managed for timber production for over 90 years. It is home to wetlands, streams, and forest that are critical wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl. As part of the Highlands Landscape, the property also helps sustain the largest drinking water supply watershed in Connecticut, with benefits that trickle down all the way to Long Island Sound.

The Connecticut DEP Natural Diversity Database indicates an observance of Louisiana waterthrush on the Myers Pond property.  A variety of habitat types including exceptional sedge/tussock meadow, open water, and riparian and upland habitats are capable of supporting many additional waterfowl and migratory bird species including:  black duck, wood duck, hooded merganser, American bittern, sora, American woodcock, marsh wren and Cerulean warbler.  Cerulean warbler is considered among the rarest of breeding warblers in Connecticut requiring large blocks of interior forest such as those located on the Myers Pond property.  The streams and water bodies of the Myers Pond parcel, including Bigelow Brook, are part of the State of Connecticut DEP designated Natchaug River Greenway.

Hull Forestlands, sister company to Hull Forest Products, the largest hardwood sawmill in the tri-state region, will still own and pay taxes on the property and continue to practice responsible forest management, growing and harvesting timber to meet the needs of society.  “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Nature Conservancy,” says Bill Hull, General Partner of Hull Forestlands. “Unlike some environmental organizations, the Conservancy recognizes that land can be used for multiple purposes—one use is not necessarily exclusive of all others—and they are willing to forge win/win relationships to achieve their goals.”

Hull Forestlands owns several thousand acres of forests in western Massachusetts that have earned certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, and selectively harvested wood from these forests is turned into woody biomass, wood chips, lumber, timbers, and flooring. These private forests also provide public benefits that make them important to the region as a whole, including wildlife habitat, enhanced air and water quality, carbon sequestration, and their contribution the rural character of the New England.

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Old Growth Forest Identified and Preserved

Old growth hemlock and pine, Ashfield, MA
Core samples taken in 2003 revealed this stand of eastern hemlock and white pine to then range from 183-250 years old.

June 2003- A Glimpse of the Precolonial Forest in Ashfield, Massachusetts

When our family land trust, Hull Forestlands, purchased the Sears Meadow Forest in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 2000, we realized there was a very old stand of eastern hemlock and white pine on the property. Tall and stately with deeply furrowed bark, these trees stand straight and solemn, their long trunks free of low branches and their canopy darkening the forest floor.

Intrigued by the possibility that this could be old growth, we invited eastern old growth forest expert Bob Leverett and Harvard University Forest Ecologist David Orwig to measure the trees in the stand. Leverett found pines with circumferences ranging from 7.6 to 11.7 feet and heights ranging from 117-131.9 feet, with an average of 260 square foot/acre basal area. One of the biggest pines was estimated to have 3,500 board feet of volume. After conducting ring counts, David Orwig estimated one of the hemlocks could be as old as 250, while the white pines ranged between 183-217 years in age. Orwig also found the pines had very good growth early on, averaging 5-8 rings per inch. His estimates are conservative, and he feels the trees could be much older, but since many were rotten at the core, it was difficult to get an accurate core sample.

According to Leverett, these trees offer a glimpse of the forests of North America prior to settlement by European colonists. And their longevity is remarkable as they are as convenient to access as any old growth in New England.

Hull Forestlands has pledged to protect this stand of old growth and we placed the property under conservation restriction with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in 2003.