• Hull Forest Products Earns FSC Certification

    August 2009- Hull Forest Products is now certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards and we are pleased to offer our customers FSC-certified flooring and lumber from our sawmill.

    Nearly a decade ago, the Hull Forestlands were certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.  Since then public concern about the state of the world’s forests and timber resources has increased, and we’ve taken another step—FSC chain of custody certification for our sawmill— to show that our products comply with the highest social and environmental standards on the market. Hull Forest Products has been managing forests in a responsible manner for over 40 years.  But as public demand for certified wood grows, the FSC label has become an effective way to gain consumer recognition for responsible forestry practices as well as credibility with business partners and environmental organizations.

    The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment. Hull Forest Products’ FSC certifier is SCS, Scientific Certification Systems, a leading certifier of wood products manufacturers.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Champion of Youth and Wildlife Award

    February 2009-   The nonprofit organization Facts About Wildlife & Nature Society (FAWNS) has recognized Hull Forest Products for their long-time generous support of the Massachusetts Outdoor Expo (“The Big MOE”) with a special “Champion of Youth and Wildlife Award.”

    The Big MOE is an outdoor experience where families are encouraged to sample, entirely free of charge, all of the traditional outdoor sports and wildlife activities under expert supervision.  They can fish, shoot, kayak, rock-climb, mountain-bike, see and touch wildlife, and learn about recreation and conservation opportunities.  The Big MOE also provides an opportunity for youth to participate in nature-related arts and crafts, build a bird nesting box, practice calling wild turkey and waterfowl, and savor the flavor of wild game and fish.

    Hull Forest Products, of Pomfret, CT, and Russell, MA, has donated rough-cut pine for more than a thousand nesting boxes over the past several years.  Hundreds of these bird boxes are assembled and built by excited local children at the event every year, and are then brought proudly home to improve local wildlife nesting habitat.  Hull Forest Products also sponsors and presents the Forestry station at the event, teaching participants how to identify, age, and understand the management of native trees.

  • Supplying Wood Chips for Public School Renewable Energy Initiative

    September 2008- Hull Forest Products To Supply Wood Chips for Rhode Island Public School Energy Initiative

    The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $984,000 grant to Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island to develop an alternative energy laboratory and install a wood-chip fired heating system. The D.O.E. grant also includes funds for the installation of a solar panel and wind tower at the school and a hydrogen fuel-cell technology for student projects. Central to the project are biomass boilers that will heat both the Ponaganset high school and middle school for one-fourth the cost of conventional oil. Hull Forest Products, Inc. of Pomfret, Connecticut, was chosen to supply wood chips for the boilers and is proud to be part of a project that provides students first-hand experience with alternative energy.

    Ponaganset High will play a “pioneering” role in energy eduation, says Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Generations of students here can learn about alternative energy and prepare themselves for a world where alternative energy will be central to our success as an economy. It’s a very exciting moment when you can see practical progress –– lowering the cost of energy for a school system — and also see the education of young people who can take this knowledge forward to the next generation.”

  • Energy-Saving Upgrades to Our Dry Kilns

    February 2007-

    What small company wouldn’t want to save $30,000-$40,000 a year in electricity costs? When Hull Forest Products Kiln Manager John Cody approached management about installing new dry kiln controls in 2006, it was the potential savings in energy costs that generated the most excitement. Connecticut Light and Power sent out a private engineer who determined that if all four kilns were running, the annual savings in the electricity bill could be that huge.

    The new computerized kiln controls, installed in February 2007, save money by drawing less power: all four kiln fans now start up much more slowly, drawing fewer kilowatts in the process.

    But there was an additional bonus with this installation. Because the new kiln controls allow for incremental adjustments, the temperature in the kiln can be ramped up slowly, placing less stress on the lumber and resulting in less degrade. Cody likens the incremental increase in temperature to walking up a ramp instead of taking the steps: it’s a much more gradual process, and the change is almost imperceptible to the wood. As a result, there have been fewer cracks and splits in kiln dried lumber lately. The cost savings on this increased yield may well turn out to be more than the savings on electricity.

    Woodworkers have taken note of the improved color that comes with this slower drying process, particularly in Red Oak, whose prized pinkish-red hue is especially well preserved. Manufactured by Lignomat, the new controls and software make it possible for changes to be made online from any location, and according to Cody, “the accuracy is incredible.”

    It has been a win-win situation for Hull Forest Products and evidence that investment in new technology continues to pay off for this manufacturer.

  • 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.

  • Waste Not, Want Not: Recovering Optimum Value from Every Board

    How the edger views a board
    This photo shows how our edger views a board as it approaches the saw box. The computer models the 3D data collected by a scanner and analyzes the geometric limitations of the NHLA grade rules across several grades, combined with relative values, to obtain the optimum solution based on human-entered variables combining appearance, grade, and recovery. At a cost of $1 million, the computer-optimized edger system gives us a recovery value of 97-99 percent from each board.  

    January 2004-Hull Forest Products Installs First-of-Its-Kind Edger

    In 2004, Hull Forest Products installed and began running a new computer-optimized edger system that was the first of its kind in North America.

    An edger is a machine that saws the round edges off boards from the saw carriage. This may sound like a simple task, but with thousands of boards sawn each day, even the best trained human operators can only be expected to perform at about 75 to 80 percent of optimal. Small errors in edging of 1/16 or 1/8 inch per board add up to significant lost profits.

    With our new system, we have the ability to consistently saw products to within a couple of thousandths of an inch, yielding 97 to 99 percent of the optimal value recovery from each board. We can also saw fixed width, random width, and specialty products, as well as edge different thicknesses to different parameters, all in the same production run. This system has enabled HFP to provide more customized and value-added products to its customers, which benefits not only manufacturers and end users, but also landowners, who may receive more money for a given quantity of timber due to the increased value of a product that is manufactured using computer optimization.

    The new edger cost over $1 million and is essentially a production rip saw that incorporates the latest in laser scanning and computer processing technology. In contrast with the traditional method of manually operating an edger (which requires extensive grading and math skills utilized in just a short moment to make the best decision on how to edge each individual board, at thousands of pieces each day), the new edger can process a day’s production and achieve the highest value solution on every board from the first to the last.

    With minimal human input to identify grade zones and defects on the lumber, the edger scanners collect a high density 3D profile of each board within one foot of travel. As the board continues toward the saw box, the computer models the 3D data collected by the scanner and analyzes the geometric limitations of the NHLA grade rules across several grades, combined with relative values, to obtain the optimum solution based on human-entered variables combining appearance, grade, and recovery. The optimizer can evaluate over 20,000 independent solutions for each board in only tenths of a second. As the board approaches the saws, the computer finalizes its decision and directs the hydraulic system to position the saws at the correct angle and spacing. As the saws enter the cut, they slew at a rate defined by the angle and speed of the board. As the board exits the machine, it is pushed out onto the lumber deck, while the edgings are dropped into the by-product system.

    The edger machine hardware was produced by Timber Machine Technologies (TMT) of Tualatin, Oregon. The scanning and software package was produced by Inovec of Eugene, Oregon. Inovec is a division of GE Infrastructure. The two companies have a history of working well together on sawmill optimization projects.

    Our new edger installation was featured in The Timberline Magazine.

  • Cowls Sells Timbers Business to HFP

    January 2010-

    Hull Forest Products announces the addition of pine timbers to its existing spruce and hardwood timbers line, following its purchase of W.D. Cowls’ pine timbers business. Included in the purchase was the Cowls company timber sizer, which enables Hull Forest Products to surface timbers 16” tall and up to 24” wide—huge pieces of wood—on four sides in one pass.

    “We are sorry to see the closing of the Cowls sawmill,” said Bill Hull, founder and CEO of Hull Forest Products. “We’ve been friends with the Cowls for many decades, and we’re thankful that we’re in a position to assist them with this transition.  In these tough economic times, our purchase of Cowls’ pine timber business represents a continuing consolidation within the industry and adds another niche to our existing hardwood timber frame business. We look forward to servicing all of Cowls former customers.”

    Hull Forest Products offers framers a variety of softwood and hardwood timbers, along with options such as NELMA grade stamping, FSC-certified timbers, timber lengths to 26 feet, and surfacing—all from a single supplier.   The company’s land base of largely FSC-certified woodlands in New England also plays a key role in timber procurement, providing a sound resource for the sawmill.

    “We are a large landowner in southern New England, as is Cowls, and we harvest timber in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York,” says Hull.  “Because we handle a huge volume of softwood material, the bulk of which does not go to any mills in New England, we have a huge internal resource with which to meet our customer’s needs.”