When done carefully, logging can provide great benefits to wildlife in a forest by creating food and successional habitat. Dana Hazen found clear evidence of this when he stopped by Reading, VT to check on a tree-harvesting job being carried out at the Meccawe trout club by logger Dave Goodhouse. While there, Dana jumped a yearling moose from a two-acre patch cut created the week before. He noticed three moose beds and several sets of moose tracks in the patch cut as well. What attracted moose to this particular spot? A menu of delicious and readily available browse.
The sound of logging is a dinner bell for resident moose. On average, a moose will consume 3% of its weight in food per day during the summer, and half of that during the winter. That means a 1000 lb. moose needs to consume 30 lbs. of browse per day in the summer, and 15lbs during the winter. The tree tops left during the Meccawe timber harvest are providing a great source of food not just for moose, but for deer and other wildlife, as you can see from the browsed twig in the photo.
The harvest that Dave is conducting for the landowner will cover approximately 100 acres of hardwood forest. Most of the area is being cut using single-tree and small group selection. At the same time, Dave is implementing three patch cuts ranging from 1-2 acres to create early successional habitat for songbirds, browsing mammals such as deer and moose. The patch cuts will also establish a new generation of young trees to create more stand structure and build resilience should a major wind or ice storm strike the area.
Dave is logging using a cut-to-length system, in which the trees are felled using a harvester, cut to length, and forwarded out of the woods instead of being dragged behind a skidder. Dave and his equipment are a good fit for this landowner and site. The job will result in the harvest of valuable wood while increasing habitat value and improving the quality of the forest over the long-term, for the benefit of the landowner and the wildlife that lives there.