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Forest Management Plan Keeps Avon-Owned Forests Healthy

By selectively harvesting sick or troublesome trees, the long-term health and vibrancy of Avon's public forests are assured.

The Town of Avon owns 722 acres of forest land, the management of which is conducted under the Natural Resouces Inventory and Management Plan.

The properties covered under the plan range from the largest — the Huckleberry Hill Conservation Area covering 282 acres — to the smallest — Hazen Park at just under 52 acres. The scope of the plan is to use selective cutting of timber for the maximum benefit of the conservation of the trees and wildlife, according to Director of Planning Steven Kushner.

By targeting specific trees for logging, the town generates income used exclusively for improvements to the parks. The selection of trees includes those that may be damaged or diseased, or whose presence becomes harmful to other trees around them. Left to mature naturally, trees compete for natural resources, sunlight, and nutrients in the soil. Through a forestry technique known as silviculture, the plan calls for pro-active management of the trees and vegetation to achieve long-term forest health.

"By selectively thinning, harvesting the trees that are not as valuable, other trees in the forests are able to grow larger and healthier for the long term improvement of the forest as a whole," said Kushner.

Kushner noted that only a tiny fraction of the total trees are identified for cutting, since the plan is a conservation-based undertaking, not a commercial logging venture. The current plan, written in 2009, is the third in a series of 10-year forest management plans. A forest resource inventory of the properties was conducted by Ferrucci & Walicki, LLC.

"Overall our inventory revealed that the forests are generally healthy with many good quality trees that, if properly managed, will produce valuable saw logs at regular intervals for many years. Most of the forests are dominated by broadleaf, deciduous trees, with some scattered conifers found throughout," the plan reads.

The plan describes several invasive species including Japanese Honeyshuckle, Oriental Bittersweet Vine, and Autumn Olive as well as recommendations for the control and removal of troublesome plants.

There is little to no impact on animal wildlife from the tree thinning, according to Kushner. Some animals thrive in this kind of "edge" habitat, he said, benefiting from the more manicured nature of the forests.

Special care is taken to minimize impact on the wetlands areas contained within the town-owned forests. Public works and tree cutting crews will sometimes make use of temporary crossings, but make sure to protect the valuable wetlands resources. There is a 5-foot setback for any tree removal from designated wetlands areas, and any trees felled over wetlands are to be promptly removed according to the plan guidelines.

Kushner credited former Department of Public Works Director Rudy Fromm with being the chief proponent of the Forestry Plan. Fromm, who held a college degree in forestry, was passionately involved in maintaining the plan, and assuring that not only were the forest resources maximized, but the integrity of the forests maintained.

The town owned properties have many hiking trails and recreational resources available to the public.

More information on the properties as well as a full copy of the plan may be viewed at the following link.

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