Sylvan Acres Tree Farm, VT
by Fred Hunt
This property exemplifies the potential for small forest landowners to provide long-term Guild-style management that leads to site, forest, wildlife, and wood product improvements. Beginning in the 1800s, the property was nearly entirely cleared for sheep pasture. The property was abandoned in the late 1800s, and in the early 20th century it was extensively planted with pine. The property has had only three owners since the 1840s and is now protected by a conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust ensuring its continuity as forest land.
When I acquired the property in 1956 I made significant investments in improving the property and forest quality. These investments include continuous timber stand improvement work, road building and maintenance, over 150 long-term study plots, and educational opportunities and partnerships. Field data from 1973 to 1982 indicate that the level of tree cutting has not exceeded the rate of growth. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the quality and vigor of the retained trees and, ultimately the harvested trees as well. To quote the field review from 2002, required for entry into the Model Forest program: “The enhancement of uneven-aged structure and species diversity in the forest make it excellent habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.… Sylvan Acres grows some of the highest quality northern hardwoods, red oak, and white pine found anywhere in southern Vermont.”
Images courtesy of Stephen Long, Northern Woodlands magazine.
Forest Statistics and Documentation
- Acreage: 790
- Forest Types: northern hardwood; planted white and red pine with norway spruce
- Model Forest Manager: Fred Hunt
- Primary Uses: timber products, fuelwood
- Affiliations/Links: Vermont Land Trust
- Certification: American Tree Farm System
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