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Students Study Sustainability at Hull Forest Products

Seniors from Pomfret School’s Environmental Studies class tour Hull Forest Products.

Each year hundreds of students from local elementary schools, high schools, and colleges tour the Hull Forest Products sawmill in Pomfret, CT to learn about forestry and wood products manufacturing. 2017 school groups included students from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Burrillville High School in Rhode Island, and the advanced environmental studies class from nearby Pomfret Preparatory School, where teacher Annie O’Sullivan has been bringing her students to the Hull sawmill for several years now. We asked Ms. O’Sullivan to describe what role Hull Forest Products plays in her students’ learning:

“Our students have had a fantastic time touring Hull each fall for the past couple of years. I first took a tour as a grad school at Yale Forestry, so was eager to connect once I started working at Pomfret. In the fall we have a unit on Forest Ecology, so the students spend time in the Pomfret [School] forest learning their trees and about forest ecosystems in general. They then learn a bit about forestry management and why landowners might cut trees to encourage growth.

I have them think about where their wood products come from (they don’t know, except from Ikea), so that’s why we take the trip to Hull Forest Products. It’s there that the students really grasp for the first time how this natural resource they are so familiar with (red oaks) are turned into the flooring we see towards the end of the tour. They are usually pretty into the debarker and seeing the saws operating with the lasers.

My course is really about educating students about sustainability. Thus, I am trying to get them to understand that we use natural resources like water and food and trees, and that’s okay – being an environmentalist is not about rejecting all commodities. It’s really about how we grow and use them that determines what our future will look like. Hull is an amazing place for the kids to see that process right in front of their eyes.”

-Annie O’Sullivan, Environmental Science Faculty, Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticut

Burrillville High School students tour an active timber harvest with Hull forester Chris Casadei to learn how and why woodlands are managed.

In the fall of 2017 students from Burrillville High School had the opportunity to tour an active timber harvest with Hull forester Chris Casadei, seeing how and why particular trees are marked for harvest. The students also toured the Hull sawmill to observe the manufacture of forest products from local logs. Students were able to see the entire process – forests being managed sustainably for the production of timber, the breaking down of logs on on a band head rig, the flow of boards through the sawmill and its dry kilns, and even the secondary manufacturing of flooring from some of this lumber.

Students tour the wood flooring shop at Hull Forest Products to watch as lumber is turned into custom wide plank wood flooring.

Public outreach is an important part of every forester’s job – and we encourage our entire team to help educate the public about the vital role that forests ad forest products  play in our ecosystem and economy.

Want to learn more? You can visit Hull Forest Products at these upcoming events:

March 17, 2018: Connecticut Land Conservation Conference, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
March 22-25: Architectural Digest Home Design Show, Pier 94, NYC
March 23-24: JLC Show, Providence, RI Convention Center
March 27-29: New England Society of American Foresters winter meeting, Nashua, NH: New England Forest Stories – The People – The Management – The Technical Knowledge
July 10-12: NWFA Intermediate Wood Flooring Installation, NYC

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How Landowners Can Enhance Wildlife Habitat Through Forest Management

Black throated blue warbler, photographed in Hull Forestland’s Connecticut woodland during a bird habitat assessment by Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation at CT Audubon. This warbler prefers mixed woodlands with thick undergrowth, especially mountain laurel.

Did you know that you can enhance wildlife diversity on your own property through woodland management?  Read on to learn how you and your forester can create greater biodiversity through silvicultural practices.

“Forest” is the largest land category in Connecticut, with approximately 60 percent of the state covered in forest.  Since the statistic began being tracked in 1952, Connecticut’s net growth of trees has exceeded removals, and today the ratio of growth to removals is more than 2:1.

However, there is a noticeable lack of diversity in the age classes of Connecticut forests (and southern New England forests in general).  Connecticut’s forests consist of 69 percent mature stands, 25 percent intermediate stands, and just 6 percent regenerating stands.

There is a critical loss of young forest habitat (also known as early successional habitat)  in the state. When there are not enough young forest stands, then species that prefer low-lying vegetation are fewer in number. A diverse mix of forest age classes is beneficial because it provides the maximum range of wildlife habitat. Forest management is one way that landowners can  influence the future composition of Connecticut’s forests.

Woodland Management Can Diversify Habitat

Forests change constantly, with or without human intervention, and over time a new tree species comes to dominate another through a cycle called succession. Some people oppose intervention because they fear it might harm wildlife, but in the long run, doing nothing can lead to conditions that are unfavorable for the very wildlife they want to help. Woodland owners have an important opportunity to influence the type and quality of wildlife habitat on their land through active forest management.

Openings within a forest create edge habitat. “Edge” is the term for where plant communities meet, or where successional stages or vegetative conditions within communities come together. This is often the richest area in a forest in terms of wildlife abundance and diversity. Having a variety of habitat cover types and timber age classes is beneficial for many species of wildlife, including birds, because of the abundance of edges they create.

Working with a licensed forester, landowners can plan for timber harvests that not only provide income, but also create the desired timber age classes and habitat conditions favored by wildlife species.  If the landowner’s neighbors also own forestland and have similar goals, then the habitat management can be implemented on an even larger scale.

Check out this handy Foresters For the Birds guide produced by Vermont Audubon to see how you as a landowner can work with a forester to  promote habitat for specific bird species in your woodland.

Habitat Case Study: The Myers Pond Forest

In 2014 scientists from Connecticut Audubon and the CT Agriculture Experiment Station conducted bird habitat assessments on over 25 woodland properties in Connecticut. One of the most intensively managed properties they visited was Hull Forestlands’ own Myers Pond Forest in Union, CT, which has been actively managed for timber production since 1900, with a recent focus on hemlock removals and white pine regeneration.

Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation for CT Audubon, personally photographed a wide variety of birds and habitats on the land, including sedge/tussock meadow, open water, riparian, and upland bird habitats. Comins hailed the property as “One of the crown jewels of forestland in Connecticut.”

Jeffrey Ward, Chief Scientist at the Dept. of Forestry and Horticulture at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment station, said the Myers Pond Forest was the “best managed property he had seen” in their bird habitat assessments. In addition to a wide variety of birds, the Myers Pond Forest is home to many of the common woodland mammals of eastern North American, including white tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, coyote, bobcat, and beaver.

The Myers Pond Forest is an excellent example of how intensively managed forests provide a wealth of wildlife habitat while at the same time producing timber to meet the needs of society. For more information on Hull Forestlands’ Myers Pond Forest, you can access the forest history here: Myers-Pond-Forest-History-2020

Learn more about woodland management for your property. Check out our youtube channel for  videos on our award-winning forestry and timber harvesting services, as well as our lumber and wood products manufacturing (utilizing sustainably harvested local timber).  See where  harvested wood goes and how it is utilized in a zero-waste operation to make products that store carbon throughout their service lives as well as by-products that reduce reliance on fossil fuels.  

Read reviews from clients who have used our forest management, logging, and timber harvesting services. 

Contact the Hull Forest Products forestry department today for a free no-obligation consultation. (860) 974-0127 extension 4.