On Dec. 16, Yale Foresters Unveil ‘Man Plans’ to Connecticut Landowners

On Dec. 16, Yale Foresters Unveil ‘Man Plans’ to Connecticut Landowners

From late September to early November, my classmates and I have spent some of nearly every weekend in the forests of northeast Connecticut. We are learning by doing – writing management plans for community members who own land around the Yale-Myers Forest.

All students begin their time at F&ES learning to measure trees at Yale-Myers Forest. This fall, 14 of my classmates and I have seen this come full circle. My team of three identified and measured over 1,500 trees on the 120-acre property we were assigned. We also practiced interpreting the landscape by “reading” the soils, rocks, plants and hydrology. This forms the baseline for the recommendations we will make.

The clients we work with have a strong connection to their land. Some have lived there for nearly their whole lives. Others have ambitious goals for creating a silvipastoral system or planting fruit trees. Our landowner cares particularly for wildlife. On our first visit, he showed us several beaver dams with pride. When asked which animals he wanted us to manage for, he replied, “All of them.”

Management Plans for Protected Areas or Man Plans, as we call it, teaches us about practicing forestry in the context of ecology, history and community. We begin by honing our detective skills—
learning to look up title deeds in the town clerk’s office, identifying what we see in the landscape and tying it back to the dynamics of an ever-changing forest. The social element is never missing. We quickly learn first-hand about land use conflicts as we talk with our landowners, interact with their neighbors, hunters and even trespassers on the property.

With our boots on the ground, we marked the building blocks of our management plan. These are called “stands” – management units of trees that share similar characteristics and land-use history. We collected data on the species, diameters, and ages of the trees in each stand. We looked for invasive plants, pests and diseases, and valuable habitat structures for wildlife. Finally, we will interpret this information, write recommendations on thinning, protecting or harvesting trees, and present our plans to the landowners.

After days spent in the forest counting saplings, marking stonewalls and digging soil pits, we too feel a certain attachment to this land and these properties. I look forward to delivering a management plan that we are proud of, one that will achieve the goals our landowner has set. You are invited to come and hear our presentations at the Union Town Hall in Union, Connecticut from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16.