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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. 

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Hull Forest Products Earns “Best of Houzz 2014” Design Award

wide plank curly birch wood flooring from hull forest products
Wide plank figured Birch wood flooring from Hull Forest Products.

Pomfret, CT, February 4, 2014 – Hull Forest Products  has been awarded a “Best Of Houzz” design award by Houzz.com, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family-run forestry service, sawmill, and wide plank flooring manufacturer was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users who comprise the Houzz community. This award goes to those whose work was the most popular among Houzz users, who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, and ipad/iphone/android apps.

“We work hard to make wood floors like no one else, and we are thrilled that our American-grown and manufactured wide plank floors have been so popular with the Houzz community,” said Mary Hull, co-owner of Hull Forest Products.  “People feel good about choosing our floors because they are beautiful, durable, and sustainably grown products whose use helps protect working  forests here in the United States.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify top-rated products like Hull Forest Products’s wide plank floors and find companies whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

Follow Hull Forest Products on Houzz:  http://www.houzz.com/pro/hullforest01/hull-forest-products

Remodeling and Home Design
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Local Forests Are Helping to Reduce Carbon Footprint for One New England College

The biomass heating facility at Bennington College
The biomass heating facility at Bennington College in Vermont.

Our woodland owning clients sometimes like to know where their wood is going and what it’s going to be used for after a harvest.  So today we’re telling the story of the not-so-lowly wood chip, and how it’s keeping New Englanders warm in winter.

When we at Hull Forest Products buy your timber and saw those logs at our mill, nothing is wasted. Bark is peeled off and turned into landscaping mulch. Sawdust is recycled in our biomass-powered dry kilns and also sold to wood pellet manufacturers. Slabs, edgings, and trimmings are ground into wood chips, a versatile product with uses ranging from paper production to playground surfacing to biomass heating.

One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil.

Hull Forest Products supplies mill quality as well as whole tree wood chips to New England institutions that utilize biomass heating, including Ponagansett Middle and High Schools in Rhode Island, Mt. Wachusett Community College and the Quabbin Reservoir Visitor Center in  Massachusetts, and Bennington College in Vermont.

Since its biomass heating system came online in 2008, Bennington College has reduced its annual emissions by 40 percent. The school used to burn 400,000 gallons of oil to heat the campus through the Vermont winter; now they use less than 10,000.  Bennington is committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2020, and currently their biggest liability is the 15 percent of the campus not connected to their biomass system. They are now working to extend their steam lines to all areas of the campus.

One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil, but unlike oil, wood chips are a renewable (and local) source of energy. Bennington College uses approximately 6,000 tons of wood chips each year. These chips come from trees grown in family owned working forests, and their use helps promote a healthy market for local wood.

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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.