Falmouth forest harvest plan in place

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FALMOUTH — A plan is in place for harvesting portions of the Blackstrap Hill Community Forest beginning in the winter of 2016.

The plan, which was recommended by the Land Management Acquisition Committee and adopted by the Town Council on April 13, has two goals.

The first, according to plan documents, is to thin the forest by removing “existing mature quaking aspen, white pine, red maple, and red oak trees, and stunted, diseased or damaged trees to create more regeneration and thus more age and species diversity in the target area.”

The second is to create more young forest habitat along the margins of the existing hayfield and power line.

The harvest area will be confined to roughly 60 acres, and just about half of that will likely be harvested. Bob Shafto, the town’s open space ombudsman, told the Town Council he “wouldn’t be surprised if (the harvest) is less than 30 acres.”

Shafto also said the intent is not to cut down the entire forest, but instead to create more openings, while ensuring visitors still know they are in a forest.

Councilors rejected a harvesting plan for Blackstrap last November, which would have called for harvesting up to 60 acres over three different lots in the forest. The Council voted 4-1 on April 13 in favor of the new plan, with Councilor Russell Anderson opposed; Councilor Claudia King abstained and Councilor Charlie McBrady was absent.

The same equipment that was used in this year’s harvest of the Woods Road Community Forest, including a processor to cut the trees and a forwarder to bring the wood to the landing yard, will be used in this harvest. Limbs and branches will be left on the forest floor “to provide habitat for ground dwelling species, and to enrich the soil as they decay over time.”

The forester for the Blackstrap harvest will be Paul Larrivee, who was also the forester for the Woods Road forest.

The landing area will be at the far west end of the hayfield and wood will be trucked from the site via an existing entrance road off Hurricane Road.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.