Forest Management at Preston Pond Conservation Area in Bolton

 

 

Forest management activities at Preston Pond Conservation Area (PPCA), a conserved forested parcel owned by the Town of Bolton, have commenced. The forest management activities will consist of a timber harvest supervised and marked by Chittenden County Forester Ethan Tapper, with harvesting conducted by Bolton logger Kyle Pratt, who lives across Stage Road from the PPCA. This harvesting will be done in accordance with the PPCA’s Forest Management Plan (FMP), written by former Chittenden County Forester Keith Thompson and approved by the Bolton Select Board as part of the PPCA’s comprehensive management plan in October 2017.

The harvesting prescribed in the FMP is mostly “uneven-age management,” which seeks to encourage the growth of a diverse array of tree sizes and ages. This is called “structural diversity.” A forest with high structural diversity provides a wide range of different habitat conditions for wildlife, is generally more resilient to disturbances like wind and ice damage, and will be better equipped to deal with the effects of climate change. 

“The main purposes of this harvest are to create improved wildlife habitat and to improve the health and resilience of the forest,” says Tapper, who assists in the management of about a dozen municipal forests in Chittenden County. “We can do this by harvesting in a way that promotes species diversity and structural diversity.”

Promoting biological diversity in the PPCA is in keeping with one of its primary objectives, as stated in the FMP: “to conserve and protect biological diversity, wildlife habitats, unfragmented forest, natural communities, riparian buffers and native flora and fauna.”

Ali Kosiba, the Town of Bolton’s Preston Pond Forest Steward and a Bolton Conservation Commission Member, agrees: "This timber harvest meets a number of important goals we have for the [PPCA]: increase the health and resiliency of the forest, add diverse wildlife habitat, and maintain this important resource for multiple uses.”

Besides providing wildlife habitat, increased diversity, and improved forest health, this harvest will produce hardwood logs and firewood, a portion of which will go to Bolton residents for free or for a small fee.

“The Town of Bolton is offering a firewood lottery to residents as a way to give back." Says Kosiba.

The forest management will also have educational benefits. 

“I hope that this harvest will raise the awareness of the benefits of sustainable timber harvesting, and demonstrate what responsible forestry can look like,” says Tapper.

The PPCA is a 403.2-acre forested parcel, owned by the town of Bolton and located between Stage Road and Notch Road, near the village of West Bolton. The property features beaver ponds and wetlands, cliffs, and a large amount of upland forest. The property is protected from subdivision and development by a conservation easement, held by the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB).

The PPCA was acquired by the Town of Bolton in 2004, with funding from a variety of sources, including VHCB. The management of this area was governed by a management plan written in 2003 until a new public management planning process commenced in 2012. This planning process was finally concluded with the adoption of the current management plan by the Bolton Select Board in October 2017. This management plan prescribes specific timber harvesting “treatments” as part of a holistic, sustainable forest management system for the property.

The Management Plan for the PPCA can be found on the Bolton Town Website at

http://boltonvt.com