Claremont Thins Trees On City Land

Work Being Done on Parcel Adjacent to Moody Park

Claremont — Those who frequent the trail network in and around Moody Park certainly will have noticed changes to the landscape in one section during the past few weeks.

As outlined under the city’s 2008 forestry management plan, red and white pines and hemlocks are being harvested on a city-owned parcel that abuts the park to the west.

“It is best described as a thinning,” according Dennis McKenney, a consulting forester and land surveyor with New England Forestry and Consultants of Bennington, N.H.,.

The trees have been cut into logs then transported and stacked in the old ball field near the park access road where they are trucked out for use as pulp or lumber. North Country Lumber of Littleton, N.H., is harvesting the trees on this parcel and should finish in about a week and a half, McKenney said.

McKenney is supervising the work, and in the video shot last week, he explains the reasons for the harvest and why some trees are being removed and others left behind.

He said in an interview this weekend that he came up with the idea for a video to combat claims that a “clear-cut” was being done in the park.

“We identified the best trees and kept those and thinned out the trees that are ready to harvest or wouldn’t survive 15 or 20 years when we cut again,” he said. “There are a lot of good trees left.”

McKenney estimates many of the trees are about 60 years old and were planted in the early 1940s after the last harvest occurred on the property.

“We are trying to balance out recreational use and responsible management of the city’s forest land,” McKenney narrates in the video.

The trees that are left have been marked with a blue stripe.

“There is a nice white pine tree that we want to save for future harvest,” McKenney notes on the video.

During a tour of the property October 2011, Chris Cox, also with New England Forestry Consultants, said it is not only what you take that matters with a forestry plan.

“You look at what you leave behind, trees that will continue to grow and be there for a future harvest,” Cox said at the time. “It makes for a healthier forest.”

Thinning out stands of trees allows for more light and better growth, Cox added.

Several trees are marked with a “W,” meaning they have an obvious benefit to wildlife.

“We hang on to those,” McKenney says in the video.

He describes one tree with lower cavities that could be used by a fisher cat or porcupine for a den and upper cavities for bird nesting.

For those not familiar with modern logging operations, the 27-minute video, which had been viewed 37 times as of last night, includes several moments of footage of the machine that takes down the trees and cuts them up.

“It is just a very expensive axe and saw,” McKenney tells viewers describing the “processor.”

Though the cab looks similar to other heavy machinery, the tree-cutting attachment is anything but ordinary.

In one clip , the operator clamps on to a tall hemlock , cuts it at the bottom, swings the tree around to a clearing area and rotates it horizontal. Large rollers with spikes strip off branches then the trunk is cut into eight-foot logs that will be used for pulp.

“With that machine, the two-man crew can cut more in a week than a whole crew (of about 4) could do before in a winter,” McKenney said this weekend.

The net revenue the city receives for the trees depends on a few factors, including the quality of species and the operational costs. White pine fetches the most per board foot followed by red pine and hemlock, McKenney said, adding that he expects they will harvest several hundred thousand board feet when finished in another week or week and a half.

“It is what landowners do to responsibly manage land,” McKenney said. “They balance out the finances with biology.”

During the October 2011 tour, McKenney said the tall white pines along the road near the front of the park are not marked for removal, except those that are damaged or present a hazard.

Logging inside the park may or may not take place this winter, but one area slated for thinning blocks the view of Mt. Ascutney from the picnic area at the top of the access road. McKenney said his mother-in-law recalled being able to see the mountain when she visited the park years ago.

“We’ll see if that can come true again,” McKenney said.

The YouTube video link for McKenney’s video is: