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WMRHS Natural Resources students visit logging operations

WMRHS Natural teacher Jenn Barton-Scarinza, left, WMRHS students Dakota Lurvey and Matt Huntington, licensed forester Walt Winturri, WMRHS para-educator Rick Bedell, WMRHS students Forrest McCabe, Rebeka Kenison, Scott Huntington, Eli Walters, and Joe Patenaude spent Thursday, Feb. 20, on a CTE field trip visiting two logging jobs within the District: in Jefferson on the Randolph Community Forest; and a field reclamation project and selective hardwood cut in Dalton on Sandy and Jim Dannis' acreage. Five students, 2 from WMRHS and 3 from Littleton High School, opted not to go. No machinery was operating when the photo was taken. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
February 26, 2014
JEFFERSON & DALTON — Seven of the 12 students in Natural Resources teacher Jenn Barton-Scarinza's double-period CTE class at WMRHS took a field trip on Thursday, Feb. 20, to two active logging sites in the WMR School District. They lucked out on the weather: bright sunshine, little-to-no wind, and temperatures in the 30s.

First, on the Randolph Community Forest (RCF) licensed forester Walt Winturri, who spent his career in the Androscoggin Ranger District of the WMNF, talked with the students about some of the factors that go into developing a 10-year forest management plan that guides what he does on the ground when he lays out a timber harvest to ensure that it is sustainable.

The acreage in the 10,000-acre RCF, he explained, has been commercially harvested for over 100 years, first by the Brown Lumber Co. of Whitefield and then by the Brown Company of Berlin and its successors.

The Boston-Mass.-based Hancock Timber Resource Group (HTRG) bought the property some 20 years ago when the pulp-and-paper mill owners severed the manufacturing end of papermaking from growing and harvesting trees for fiber.

After the ice storm of 1998, HTRG decided to sell the property and concerted efforts at the local, state, and federal level resulted in the town of Randolph with a population of just over 300 people owning the largest "working" town forest in the East, all subject to a conservation easement, with no cutting over 2,500 feet in elevation. Some 1,100 acres are in Jefferson.

When Winturri asked the students what the word "sustainable" meant to them, one replied, "doing it right," and another, "to make it so it lasts."

"Trees put on new growth every summer, increasing both their height and diameter, increasing the timber volume per acre," he explained. "We only want to capture that growth and no more so the forest will be harvestable years into the future. Wood is a renewable resource, but we don't want to cut too much of the annual growth." He also emphasized the importance of other forest resources, including aquatic habitat to support fish and other aquatic species, soils, and wildlife habitat.

Barton-Scarinza explained that logging contractors working on the town-owned property use Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Winturri, working with John Severance and Elise Lawson of Watershed to Wildlife of Whitefield, worked on the first management plan once Randolph acquired the forest. The team's second 10-year management plan was just accepted by the Randolph Forest Commission in Dec. 2013 and is awaiting state approval.

"By working on the forest and preparing several timber sales, I gathered more information than the first time around — many nuances and a greater understanding of the variables on these stands," the forester said.

Forrest Hicks of Hicks Logging in Jefferson submitted the high bid for the project and won the contract. Hicks, in turn, employed SDS Logging, also of Jefferson, to do the work.

The wood chips hauled from the on-site chipper have gone the short distance to Whitefield Power and Light, owned by Korea East-West Power, with a few loads heading to Pinetree Power in Bethlehem, owned by GDF Suez, Paris, France. Pulpwood has been hauled to the paper mill in Skowhegan, Me., as well as the chip plant of R. J. Chipping Enterprises, Inc. in Shelburne, to be readied for shipping to the paper mill in Rumford.

Sawlogs are hauled to a concentration yard in Colebrook, ready to be exported to a buyer in Canada where they are processed. Some dimensional lumber will likely will be shipped south to the U.S., others across the continent in a train and be shipped cross the Pacific Ocean to China. This timber sale will provide 410 thousand board feet of sawlogs, primarily sugar maple, and 3,500 tons of pulpwood, which translates to 85 tractor-trailer loads of sawlogs and 155 loads of chips and pulpwood.

From there the WMRHS students, plus Barton-Scarinza and Bedell, traveled to south to Dalton to a project that Aaron Packard of Packard Logging & Chipping LLC, is doing for private landowners Sandy and Jim Dannis, who describe themselves as "the current stewards of the early 1800s Tenney-Blakslee farm" and adjoining lands, now managed for timber and hay, that runs from the Connecticut River east to Dalton Mountain.

"What a gorgeous property." Barton-Scarinza said in an e-mail exchange. "And what a great example of private landowners carrying out a long-term plan. They're doing some reclaiming of fields that have not been open in probably 40 years, and also some selective tree-cutting in some small mixed hardwood stands. "You can just feel the history of this place that includes 12 pre-Civil War homesteads. From this beautiful spot at the end of Wallace Road, we hiked down to see the shear working and also the cable skidders, transferring wood a mile down to a log landing.

"Both employees stopped to talk to the students about their jobs and to show them their equipment," she continued. "Then we hiked back out and drove down to the landing to meet Packard. We watched the de-limber at work and the skidders come in with loads. Packard was running the crane and slasher, sorting the logs and pulp. In addition, firewood was being loaded onto a log truck.

"Since entrepreneurship is part of our curriculum, Packard talked about his logging business as well as what it was like to be a WMRHS Forestry student 20 years ago when boys cut wood much of the winter," Barton-Scarinza explained. "The competencies for Career and Technical Education (CTE) are much broader today than was the case years ago."

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