Loggers pine for better weather conditions

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Logging operations have continued this winter on campus near the JSC Maintenance Facility, where crews have removed a number of hazardous trees.

In total, approximately 100 acres of land has been set to be logged at JSC. Operations started in November 2014, with a bidding process that helped narrow down the hiring process for loggers.

JSC Controller, Toby Stewart, said that with the recent cut, the risk of damage to the fleet of college vehicles has been eliminated, and that they are looking forward to new plant growth in this area starting in the spring.

Diana Frederick, Vermont state lands stewardship forester, noted that so far the crew has cut mostly white pine and said that they are now removing the hardwood in the stands they have treated.

Overall, Stewart and Frederick both agreed that progress has been relatively slow. “There has been some warm weather which means freezing in new roads for work is impossible,” said Frederick.
Stewart added that extended cold stretches are ideal and progress has been made, but the weather hasn’t fully cooperated.

“The project is moving forward. Hopefully, temperatures will stay cold and logging can continue through the rest of this winter,” said Stewart. “I feel that progress could be a little further ahead than it currently is, but weather has proved to be the biggest factor.”

Along with less-than-ideal working conditions, Frederick noted that the crew on the job has been working short days or not at all.

“The work in the woods looks good and the stand left for the future should do well after the thinning,” said Frederick. “While progress is slow, the work is good, so I guess there are some tradeoffs. Often when a crew works very fast they cut corners and create more problems.”

Stewart said that the overall financial benefit to the school with this entire operation is minimal. He said the project will enhance recreation, wildlife habitat and watershed protection.

JSC has reached almost 40 percent of the overall projected expectation of roughly $50,000 in revenue.
Frederick noted that when thinning a stand, they try to maintain a certain stocking of trees per acre. “When marking we will start with removing the over-mature trees,” said Frederick. “Then we look to clear those of poor quality or poor health.” Frederick said that in many areas, they will also remove good quality and healthy trees to reach a desired residual stocking for that specific area.

Future cutting will depend on certain stands, said Frederick. “White pine tends to grow quickly and can be thinned every 10 to 15 years, while the northern hardwood stands would be thinned every 15 to 20 years.”

Next year is the final year of the logging contract with the current logger on the job. Stewart said that he is hoping everything will be complete by the end of next winter and that JSC appreciates Frederick for taking the role as the state forester on this stand following the retirement of former state forester Ray Toolan last year.