Clearcut: Immediately After
Figure 1: This forest stand was clearcut in the fall of 2004 at Pootatuck State Forest. Photo was taken in April 2005 before leaf-out. Note the rock with the crease in it on the right side of the photo.
There is a lack of age class diversity in this State Forest. Most of the forest is generally 80-100 years old. This 8-acre clearcut was recommended by DEEP Wildlife Biologists to connect two seedling/sapling stands that had been created a few years earlier. All stems two inches and greater were cut to increase sunlight to the forest floor. The harvest will reset the ecological clock on this area and regrow into a new, younger, fast growing forest. This will enhance the age and species diversity of the Forest and make it more resilient to damages from insects, diseases, and storm events. The area will regenerate with trees that grow best with full sun conditions, such as oak, aspen, birch, sassafras and cherry. The next forest will come from stump sprouts, seeds already in the soil, seeds deposited by birds, and seeds that blow in from nearby mature trees. There is no need to plant trees. Mother Nature will provide them!
Clearcut: 15 Years After Harvest
Figure 2: The same clearcut 15 years after the harvest. The photo was taken in November 2020. Note the rock with the crease on the right side of the photo. This stand has regrown and is now in the sapling size class. There are black birch, oak, aspen, cherry and sassafras with an understory of mountain laurel and low bush blueberry.
This stand is regenerating well to native trees and shrubs. The 8 acres of young trees adds habitat diversity to the Forest. The thickets provide important and uncommon habitat conditions to many kinds of wildlife, including eastern box turtle, eastern towhee, New England cottontail, American woodcock, ruffed grouse, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, and golden-winged warbler. Young forests, because they grow in open sunlight, attract more insects, and are used for brood rearing and feeding by many migratory songbirds that nest in mature, closed canopy forests adjacent to thickets. This young stand will be resilient to storm events, such as hurricanes and heavy winds, but may be more susceptible to ice damage than older forest stands. Three years after the harvest, low bush blueberry shrubs grew vigorously on site from the increase in sunlight. Local residents, along with the local wildlife, enjoyed picking and eating blueberries that benefited from this type of harvest.
Content last updated December 2020.