Letter to the editor: State forestry plan needs more thoughtful approach
Verde Monts. “Pulsatingly verdant mountains.” That is what Champlain saw in 1609 when he paddled up the lake that now bears his name. He must have loved seeing Camel’s Hump in all of her sylvan glory!
Vermont’s headwater forests in general and Camel’s Hump in particular arrived at their happy state with little or no management. The Western Abenaki peoples honored the forest to which they belonged and celebrated her capacities for self-renewal. Vermont’s native peoples knew what Aldo Leopold re-discovered centuries later: “What is needed is an intense consciousness of the land.”
Western science is one element to help lead us to the truth but it is only a fraction of what is required if we are to conserve the ecological health of this remarkable organism that blankets the places we get to call home. We must do this. After all and for example, as Justin Brande used to say, “Without ecology there is NO economy!”
I cut my forestry teeth squirting yellow dots on trees to be harvested in the Honey Hollow basin of Camel’s Hump. It was not reverential but we tried to do it well. I recall the day I realized that the best sugar maples were back-lit by the sun and found on the cool, rich, gentle, north-facing slopes. I built my first broad-based dips there as well.
Group A Forestry (i.e. management and wise use) certainly still has its place. But, in my humble opinion, Vermont would benefit from a whole lot more Group B Forestry, the forestry that uses “thou” more than “it,” is more interested in self-renewal than control, more passionate about forest health than use, and more focused on forest ecosystem conservation than forest resource management.
Camel’s Hump is the perfect place to imagine and manifest that self-renewing relationship for the people and the forest. Hopefully the 7th version of the draft plan for managing the state forests on the mountain will be significantly amended and the associated planning process will welcome and empower citizens who hold an expanded view.
And perhaps patch cuts for white-tailed deer can be left out of the mix this time around and more of the forest left to rewild herself.
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