Harvest Tour Held at Holt Research Forest

ARROWSIC, Maine – Maine Timber Research and Environmental Education (Maine TREE) hosted tours at their Holt Research Forest on Saturday, November 7, 2020, to exhibit an ongoing timber harvest. Thirty participants heard from consulting forester Barrie Brusila, harvest loggers Will and Don Cole of Trees, Ltd., and longtime UMaine Research Scientist Jack Witham about the benefits of having a timber harvest both economically and for continuing research efforts. 

The tour leaders guided participants through the log yard, a harvested area, an area not yet harvested, and to see a temporary stream crossing installed to protect water quality during the operation. The tour concluded with a demonstration from Don Cole and how he uses a processor to fell, limb, and cut trees to length in one smooth process throughout the harvest. 

Participants ranged from local townspeople to woodland owners around Maine and natural resource professionals. Topics discussed included maintaining the forest’s ecological integrity by managing water resources and considering forest health issues such as invasive plants and insects and climate change. 

According to research scientist Jack Witham, the last harvest on the property was in 1988. “As far as I know, that was the last commercial harvest in the town of Arrowsic,” said Witham. He continued, “It’s a new and exciting thing for the town of Arrowsic. Most people are pretty supportive of it.” Following the harvest, Maine TREE will look to invest in research that will explore the impacts of its management decisions on herbaceous plants, trees, and wildlife. 

Forester and Maine TREE Board member Barrie Brusila expressed the importance of demonstration forestry. “Virtually all landowners I work with manage [their land] for a multitude of objectives,” said Brusila, “It’s usually a mix of recreation, timber production for income, but the basic thing most people seem to want to focus on having a healthy forest.”

Logger Will Cole, who is also on Maine TREE’s Board of Directors, stressed the importance of sustainable wood product markets. He says, “industry is why we can do forestry, if you take the industry out of forestry then everything we do becomes a service, and it is impractical to apply. We have to maintain [commercial] infrastructure, or we could not do what we are showing you today.”

Maine TREE owns the 350-acre Holt Research Forest in Arrowsic, the site of a long-term forest ecosystem study conducted through a contract it funds with the University of Maine. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) holds a conservation easement on approximately 285 acres of the Holt Research Forest. The current harvest is happening on 125 acres of the forest and will provide researchers insights into timber harvesting impacts, especially on small family-owned forests. 

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