Just as the local food movement cuts down on carbon emissions from food transportation and supports the local economy, the local wood movement is gaining traction in Western Massachusetts.
Melissa Patterson of Franklin Land Trust and the Massachusetts Woodland Institute, tells us that “using local wood benefits woodland landowners, wildlife and our local economy. In Massachusetts, we import 98% of our wood products, so every foot of local wood we use can make a big difference.”
The statewide program “Foresters for the Birds,” a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Mass Audubon, and Massachusetts Woodlands Institute, seeks to enhance habitat for birds with declining populations through careful forest management.
In addition to improving bird habitat, this timber harvest will produce wood products for local use. The land trust will open a 5-10-acre forest gap to encourage the growth of small shrubs and saplings which provide important early successional forest habitat for Golden-winged Warblers, American Woodcock, Eastern Towhee, and many other bird species.
Studies have shown that every resident in Massachusetts uses the equivalent of one 18” wide, 100’ tall tree each year. Trees need to be cut somewhere to fill this need. If trees are cut in a local area, milled locally, and used in a local project, then the carbon footprint is significantly decreased.
Hilltown Land Trust is also working with local sawmills to ensure that much of the wood harvested from the Stevens Property is milled locally.
Sally Loomis, Executive Director of Hilltown Land Trust, says that “Hilltown Land Trust is currently reaching out to local organizations to see if the wood from Stevens can be used in local building projects.” Hemlock wood from a previous harvest at this property was used to build the post-and-beam entryway at the River Valley Market in Northampton.
The clearing will also have the benefit of creating a view from Mount Pisgah along the 4-mile hiking trail on the property.