Here in Woodstock we are blessed with beautiful forests. Forests serve as a home for wildlife and provide recreational opportunities. They also help clean our air and water. They do all this, and help keep our taxes low. You might ask, "How can this be, when forested land is taxed at a lower rate than developed lands?" Well, forests just don't spend much of the Town's money -- a little for road maintenance, fire protection, and maybe a bit of recordkeeping at the Town Hall - that's all. In fact, for every tax dollar the Town takes in from forested lands, more than half is profit for the Town. This helps offset the cost for services demanded for developed land. That said, how can we help protect and preserve our forests?
The Conservation Commission has tried to address this issue in its Plan of Open Space and Conservation.
Here in Woodstock we have many local resources ready and able to help forest landowners learn how to best manage their forest. Starting at the local level, you can contact:
Wildlife and Timber management approaches that will enhance wildlife habitat.
FOREST THINNING: Thinning certain trees from a stand maintains a healthy forest by:
FOREST CLEAR CUTS: Openings scattered throughout a forest create diversity, ideal for attracting a wide variety of wildlife. Irregularly shaped openings, arranged to receive maximum sunlight, are best. Different types of openings further increase habitat diversity.
CONIFER PLANTING: Scattered clumps of conifers provide cover to wildlife species. This is especially beneficial during winter months. Deer will browse on young conifers in the winter, as some birds will use them as nesting sites. Thinning hardwoods from an area where conifers exist will allow conifers to expand. Conifer plantings are beneficial in certain areas, such as openings at field edges.
EDGE EFFECT: Creating an edge, where two or more habitat types meet, is valuable wildlife habitat. Conversion from grass to brush to forest composed of existing or planted species is beneficial wildlife habitat, as it provides food, cover and nesting cover. Food plots, shrubs, and conifers can be planted to create an attractive edge. A natural, brushy edge can be produced by cutting all the trees twenty to thirty feet into the forest from the field edge.
SNAG/DEN TREES: A snag tree is a standing dead or nearly dead tree. A den tree is one with its trunk and/or limbs hollowed out (this includes some snags). Den trees are often alive and may continue to produce mast. Snag/den trees provide food (insects attracted to decaying trees), and living quarters for a wide variety of birds and mammals. An average of seven snag/den trees should be left per acre, evenly distributed throughout the property.
These practices give landowners an idea of how they can improve/manage their land for wildlife. If active management does take place, a State of Connecticut wildlife biologist can provide more specific assistance. Contact the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, Regional Headquarters, 209 Hebron Road, Marlborough, CT 06447, (860) 295-9523.
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