By their nature, and by the nature of their work, foresters oftimes spend their days alone and in the woods. That’s not a problem; foresters like wandering and either talking to themselves or to the trees. There isn’t much need of a loud voice unless some absent-minded bear lopes by or they’re getting multiple stings after stepping on a hornet’s nest. And there isn’t usually an audience to these musings, although these days I suppose one could easily end up on Facebook after unknowingly tripping a game camera. What happens though, when a forester is requested to tell their story or the story of forestry? At the Forest Society we call what happens an opportunity to sing our song.
I’m finding that a lot of people are very interested in what we do, but most of the time they don’t want to be the silly one who asks the strange question. Because ours is a strange profession! We have to know and do a lot of stuff that is outside many people’s comfort zone. Walking alone in the woods, working around large pieces of equipment, understanding plenty of science, measuring things, snow, cold, rain, bugs, bugs, and oh yeah, black flies, mosquitos, ticks and more bugs.
Earlier this spring we hosted the 21st class of land stewards at a two day training session on the shoulder of Cardigan Mountain in Alexandria. As part of their training, land stewards have to listen to Wendy and I talk about forest management at the Forest Society. We provide this primer because we know that at some time in the future the property to which they will become attached will host a timber harvest. We‘re a forestry organization and we practice what, in these opportunities, we preach.
Wendy begins the forestry section with a slide presentation (the newer digital kind) about our program which tries to answer the questions we know will be coming as we head to the field to look over a recent or active timber harvest. I get to do the fun part which is leading the group to places in the field where we can stand and look at a harvest area and talk about the subject very dear to foresters, the future. We answer all kinds of questions as the discussion begins and minds start churning over what is being seen, heard, and felt.
Now for the good part, you don’t have to become a land steward to hear this song of forest management. All you have to do is to sign up to come along on one of our timber tours. These special events are scheduled throughout the harvest season and provide our members, and potential members, their opportunity to hear our message and talk to all the folks who get the work done on our reservations during an active timber harvesting operation.
We try to have at least two tours annually, one in the summer/fall and one in the fall/winter in two different parts of the state. If you register to take a timber tour you have to be ready to hike over some rough ground, but you’ll learn about sorting the various products being harvested, you’ll talk to the foresters about how the sale is designed, how the trees are selected for cutting, how the roads and trails are constructed, protected and put to bed afterwards. You’ll get to talk to the operators of the sale and learn about their equipment, their professionalism, and their pride in the good work they do. I can guarantee you’ll have a great time and you’ll come away with a much better idea of the lyrics to the exciting song of Forest Society forestry.