By Jeanne Siviski

     A pre-harvest tour of China’s Thurston Park last weekend inspired questions by attending woodland owners and town residents.  A timber harvest will take place this summer on a portion of the nearly 400-acre town forest, which also boasts areas reserved for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, wildlife habitat, and preservation of historic landmarks. “It’s rare that you have one objective,” Harold Burnett of Two Trees Foresty said.  Woodland owners often have several objectives, and China polled the town to determine uses for the forest. Burnett designed the management plan for the property. Here are four questions about the harvest posed during the tour.

How do you determine which trees to cut?

     This is a complex question to answer and involves landowner input, but Burnett shared what he calls the “hole in the donut approach.” Taking out a large tree in the middle leaves greater opportunity for access to water, nutrients and sunlight for trees in the ‘donut part.”  Burnett also considers equipment access  and movement when deciding which trees will be cut, then marks them for the logger with blue paint.

Why Blue?

It turns out that very few people have blue-yellow color blindness.  Red-green color blindness is much more common.  Blue is also easy to spot as it’s not a natural color in the forest. Plus, blue paint is cheaper.

Guess what? There’s a computer in there. 

     The logger's in-woods processor was already on-site.  Burnett answered the question on everyone’s mind as to how it operates.  It strips the tree of limbs and bucks it into logs.  A setting in the computer can be adjusted to match the tree’s diameter.  The processor moves on tracks, which creates less soil disturbance.

Where’s the water?

     This was Burnett’s question, which he said is the first thing he asks and investigates when considering a timber harvest.  The group walked by an area cordoned off with pink flagging, to warn the logger of a wetland.  Within the wetland area, cinnamon fern, a favorite food of hummingbirds, happened to be in bloom.

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