The first time my wife and I had logging work done on our land, we made all the classic mistakes: we were away when the work was done; we had no contract with the logger; and we didn't mark or have someone else mark the pines to be sold.
When we returned, we were very discouraged at what we saw, and thanked heaven that we hadn't let him loose in the hardwoods. Our sole consolation was that we had sent some of the pine to be milled for our use and I trimmed the doors and windows of our new house with it.
In the years since, I've learned a lot about forest management, but the most important lesson was realizing the need for the services of a forester. Our land now has a forest management plan, developed by a consulting forester who spent the time to walk in the woods with us and discuss strategies for encouraging grouse in one stand and growing nice maple in another. We began the first phase of the plan and had a logger in to thin the hardwoods last summer. His work was excellent and the sugar maples will benefit from the room they've been given to grow.
I've written an outdoor column for a newspaper for the last four years, and have felt incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to write about a subject that means so much to me. I look at my time in the outdoors as nothing less than lessons about life. For me, Vermont Woodlands is a further reason, a further opportunity, to continue learning.
Lucky for you, this magazine isn't my idea alone. You will benefit, as I have, from the fact that my partner knows an awful lot more about the woods than I do. Virginia Barlow is my neighbor in Corinth, a forester who relishes teaching others about forestry and natural history. You'll hear from her in this space next time.
In this issue, you'll find Virginia's article on portable sawmills, her compilation of short subjects called “Knots and Bolts,” a look at the yellow birch, and, from under the microscope, an examination of the maple leaf cutter.
We've included my profile of a longterm forest steward, a look at last winter's effect on Vermont wildlife, and a story on what a landowner can expect from a logging job.
We also have a poem by Sydney Lea and a light-hearted look at the history of log drives by Mary Hays. Jay Rossier and James Wilkinson review books, and Thom McEvoy contributes the inaugural "Another View," a guest column which we think might generate some mail.
Our advertisers have helped us to get off the ground. We thank them for their support and we encourage you to use their products and services. Also, we thank those generous souls who have subscribed to Vermont Woodlands sight unseen. We hope that you will be pleased.
We have had a lot of help along the way. Most notably, John Douglas and Joan Waltermire of Flying Squirrel Graphics have given freely of their art, their time and the contents of their refrigerator.
A generous grant from the Vermont Department of Forests Parks and Recreation has funded subscriptions for a group of Vermont science teachers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to learning and teaching about the woods.
We hope you like what you see. In fact, we hope you like it well enough that you will subscribe, advertise and say nice things about Vermont Woodlands to your friends.