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MOFGA Low-Impact Forestry
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Dan and forwarder
Apprentice Andy McEnvoy holds the reins of Dan, while John Plowden (right) and Forest Tripp (left) eye the woodlot at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center. English photo.


Articles

Entries for 'MOFGApedia Editor'

Most folks see only the swath of forest along the Pine Road on their way into or out of the Common Ground Country Fair. The Low-Impact Forestry Project (LIF) at MOFGA has been working within sight of the Pine Road at various times over the past decade. If you’ve been this way, you’ll have noticed that the south side of the road abutting the railroad tracks is dense, dark and generally growing poorly. That area was intentionally left unmanaged for comparison.

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Winter loggingImplementing best management practices can always help forest practitioners reduce the known harmful impacts of logging. Soil health is the foundation for healthy, productive forests, and good tools and practices can reduce damage done to soils by compaction and rutting.

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Sam BrownLow impact forestry (LIF) is about balance – of ecological systems and human society; nutrient richness and capital investment; timber stand improvement and human infrastructure. Humans need forest resources for heat, building material, paper, tools and more, but we also need to conserve, or at least limit, extraction so that the resource is available for years to come.

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In this Internet age, all information is only a click away. Or so they say. Plenty of information, however, cannot be digitized, photographed, filmed or otherwise captured outside of personal experience. Videos abound with “professionals” demonstrating the proper methods for felling and processing trees, operating logging equipment, and even for using draft animals in the woods. Often few or no credentials support the instructors’ “professional” status other than the fact that they are featured in an online video.

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Setting long-term goals can be difficult. Setting goals for the next 100 years or more might seem impossible, or at least impractical. Yet good forestry requires such foresight and intention.

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The Low Impact Forestry (LIF) Project was formed in the early 1990s by a small group of central Maine loggers, foresters, scientists and landowners concerned about effects that then-current forest harvesting practices were having on Maine’s soils, waters, plants and humans. The LIF Project was committed to finding examples of excellent forestry, analyzing why they were successful, and communicating results to the public.

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MOFGA Red BarnFor some, the Common Ground Country Fair marks a turn from cultivating the field to cultivating the forest. With garden put to bed, compost turned, barns swamped out, cellars full and pastures dressed for winter, many of us turn to the woods to feed other appetites: a few cords of firewood, mulch for raised beds, logs for next summer’s building or the chance of venison. For the growing Low Impact Forestry (LIF) community, the Fair feels like opening day of woodlot season.

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Dan and forwarderTwo articles report on recent activities of MOFGA's Low-Impact Forestry group: Winter Harvest 2010 by Ken Lamson, and From Logs to Lumber by Eli Berry.

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LIF at MOFGAThe 2009 Low-Impact Forestry harvest at the MOFGA woodlot was a great success. At its height over 20 people participated in the logging event along with 14 horses, two oxen and assorted, appropriate, low-impact machinery.

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Cartload of logsA wet but wonderful November workshop at the woodlot in Unity concluded the 2008 season of MOFGA’s Low Impact Forestry (LIF) group.

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Logging crewJason Glick brought his horse Dan and his chainsaw from Appleton, and cutter Jim Ostergard also came from that little town. Nick Zandstra drove from Vermont with his saws and axes. John Cullen brought his saw from Topsham, as did Joel Tripp from Saco.

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MOFGA woodlotThe circle of MOFGA members who are active in the Low Impact Forestry (LIF) program continued to widen in 2007, and the LIF steering committee sent many hours organizing the 2007 LIF Workshop, planning the future of the program and addressing challenges facing woodland owners and forest managers.

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MOFGA will host the Ninth Annual Low-Impact Forestry (LIF) Workshop at the Common Ground Education Center in Unity on November 16-17, 2007.

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Over the last year the volunteer ad-hoc steering committee of MOFGA’s Low Impact Forestry (LIF) project has met frequently to address the needs of MOFGA’s membership and of over 400 folks who have attended the annual fall LIF workshops.

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To some, forests are an extension of the farm, but they grow wood and fiber rather than food. Desirable trees are "crops," other plants are "weeds," and organisms that might feed on crop trees are "pests." This viewpoint is formalized within the government – the Forest Service is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In reaction to farm metaphor, Aldo Leopold, in "The Land Ethic," wrote, "to grow trees like cabbages, with cellulose as the basic forest commodity," puts the forester in the conqueror role – which is ultimately self defeating, he believed.

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Belgian gelding NickThe woods are full of horses. A team of Suffolks pulls up to the landing with a load of logs, as a team of Percherons leaves with an empty scoot. Soft bells announce the arrival of a single Belgian, twitching out another log to be bucked into 8-foot lengths and forwarded to the pulp yard. In moments when the chainsaws fall silent, leaving only the sound of bells and hooves and the calls of teamsters, this could be a forest scene from a hundred years ago.

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When consulting forester Barrie Brusila of Mid-Maine Forestry of Warren, Maine, set out to develop a management plan for MOFGA’s woodlot in 1999, she faced unique challenges. Using the woodlot for education and demonstrations was as important to MOFGA as timber production and improving the timber stand. Also, MOFGA’s 89-acre woodlot isn’t just one lot, but a series of areas surrounding the open part of the fairgrounds.

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Paul BirdsallOn a few cool days in November last year, the fourth Low Impact Forestry Workshop brought together nearly six dozen people at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center to investigate the myriad facets of working a woodlot with animals and light machinery. This workshop is becoming a favorite annual gathering for forestry workers interested in sustainable methods, largely because it is spread over three days and covers in detail (and repetition) lots of information.

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• Low Impact Forestry Program Enhances Fair and Fairgrounds
• Barbara Brusila – MOFGA’s Consulting Forester
• Generations of Low Impact Forestry
• 1999 Stewardship Education Grant

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