The Working Forest

The Working Forest Criterion

The "working forest" criterion is a goal that has been adopted for all the Yale Forests. It also clearly identifies the School's forest policy of economic self-sufficiency as being a more realistic example of forest management to private forest landowners as compared to other university forests which are considerably subsidized, have their own endowments, or are primarily research forests. The "working forest" as defined promotes all operations that follow normal business and legal constraints for private non-industrial forest owners who seek multiple benefits from their lands. Whenever possible the management of the forest aims to avoid employing special legal exemptions and unusual financial benefits given to universities or organizations of our type so that management experiences on our land are applicable to other ownership's. This means that the Yale Forests should serve as an example of sustainable and multiple-use management that is in the long term financially independent of the School. Costs incurred by the Yale Forests (town taxes; road, bridge, and gate maintenance; property boundaries; buildings; equipment purchase and maintenance; student intern salaries; forest manager stipends) are therefore no greater than the income generated from the School Forests. This policy stipulates long-term because unusual circumstances may occur, particularly involving short-lived market conditions for certain products that merit capturing income at periodic intervals. This means selling products and services when stumpage markets are high and deferring sales when prices are low, rather than generating income on a continuous basis irrespective of market conditions. Expenses for maintaining the Yale Forests amount to $100,000 per annum, which can be divided evenly three ways between student salaries, facilities, and taxes. Income is generated almost entirely through the sale of timber and non-timber forest products.

The specific objectives for Yale Forests require regeneration and post-establishment treatments to the forest. For the next twenty years and beyond, the treatments for the Yale Forests aim to create a variety of stand conditions across a range of topographic and soil conditions. To meet these stand structures across the whole forest, area regulation was adopted in 1991. In the past the management of the forest had used volume regulation using a continuous forest inventory system (CFI) that was started in 1956 and has since been conducted on a ten year cycle. To construct silvicultural guidelines for area regulation of the Yale School Forests the most recent analysis of the CFI plots was used. The Landscape Management System developed by McCarter et al. (2000) helps to continually evaluate our management guidelines and our landscape zoning for the School Forest System. We use a variety of silvicultural treatments given the specific circumstances of the site ecology and product market. The treatments are too variable to pigeonhole here but the different forests do have general guidelines to meet the goals and specific objectives of the School Forests. The majority of the silvicultural prescriptions seek to maintain the complex mixtures of New England hardwoods using our knowledge of stand dynamics and the importance of securing advance regeneration. There are exceptions where management purposefully aims to suppress regeneration or eradicate advance regeneration to create other kinds of habitats - most relate to maintaining early seral species of wildlife and vegetation.

The forest has had positive net annual growth, at least for the last few decades, not only because of cutting less than the estimated allowable cut, but also because of the age structure. Most forest stands fall within a rather narrow range because of the history of the land use before Yale ownership. Current stands that have not been regenerated in these last few years are relatively young (60-80 years) and therefore are continuing to grow fast. The current annual increment for the forests therefore exceeds the mean annual increment. One would expect the annual growth to exceed the long-term allowable cut at this age but as the forest increases in age annual increment will decrease.

Timber Operations

An area- and volume-based harvest schedule for the Yale Myers Forest has been generated from data collected in the continuous forest inventory (CFI). Currently, the guidelines for Yale Myers prescribe thinning 100 to 200 acres and using regeneration cuttings (various kinds of shelterwood for the hardwoods; seed tree/shelterwood for the pine) on 100 to 200 acres a year; for the regeneration cuttings, approximately half the acreage represents initial silvicultural treatments for regeneration establishment and the remainder are the actual treatments for release of established regeneration.

Acres Silvicultural Prescription MBf
100-200 Low, crown and free form thinnings, crop tree management, timber stand improvement, firewood cuts
50-100 Preparatory cut of a two cut shelterwood/seed tree
50-100 Overstory removal of a two cut shelterwood/seed tree and various irregular 2- and multi-age class systems; occasional one-cut shelterwoods and patch clearcuts. 150

These figures of about 300 acres and between 450 and 500 MBF cut annually yields an estimated annual income generated from timber sales at around $70,000-80,000. This timber harvest schedule for Yale Myers Forest was adopted in 1994, at the same time that the seven-year rotation of division inventories was established. Each division comprises about 1000 acres. Prior to this, sales were dotted across the property in a more haphazard fashion, depending on the needs of individual stands and the interests of the forest director, manager, and crew.

The Yale Toumey Forest follows a similar protocol to Yale Myers. The following volumes and areas should be marked annually:

Acres Silvicultural Prescription MBf
50-100 Low, crown and free form thinnings, crop tree management, timber stand improvement, firewood cuts
25-50 Preparatory or final cut of a two cut shelterwood/seed tree and/or variants of irregular seed tree and shelterwood; some patch clearcuts; some intensive plantations; some selection systems. 50-10

These figures of about 100 acres and between 100 and 150 MBF cut annually yields an estimated annual timber income of $20,000-30,000. The Yale Toumey forest works on a five-year rotation of divisions (approximately 500 acres per division) and includes Dummerston and Goss Woods. The remaining three forests (Bowen, Cross and Crowell Ravine) have separate management plans approved by the state of Vermont.

Using volume regulation, an annual allowable cut for the entirety of the Yale Forests has been calculated at one million board feet (MMBf). However, only on several occasions has the annual cut ever approached or exceeded this one million board feet and has on certain instances barely obtained half of that. When calculated on a ten-year basis the mean annual cut for the period 1981-1990 was 800 thousand board feet (MBf). For the current period 1991 - 2000 mean annual cut has been calculated as 600 MBf. This level of annual cut will remain under one million board feet in the future because of the other goals that have been identified for the management of the School Forests.

Timber harvests at the Yale Myers Forest are conducted by one fully-certified and skilled operator who is widely regarded as one of Southern New England's exceptional loggers. Though whole-tree chipping and tree-length skidding operations have been conducted under exceptional circumstances, virtually all harvesting operations are now performed using a TIMBCO harvester and forwarder, which is a combination of logging equipment that offers a number of benefits:

1. Low soil compaction during harvesting and forwarding.

2. High maneuverability with a 360-degree rotation and a 15 meter reach that provides superior operational ability in partial cuts.

3. Ability to operate around embedded reserves and protected areas.

4. Utilization of pre-planned, permanent skid trail networks.

5. Cut-to-length processor head allows even distribution of slash within the harvest area.

6. Ability to create artificial snags.

7. Ability to spatially arrange artificial debris structures.

Harvests at Yale's northern forests are generally awarded by competitive bid to any of several skilled, high-quality logging contractors in the region.

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