Letter to the editor: Snake Mountain logging follows accepted practices

The letter by J. Beamish (Addison Independent, Oct. 26) dramatically misrepresents what is happening on Snake Mountain on the timber rights that my family owns and have harvested on for many years. My grandfather Fred Johnson assembled 13 properties where the timber rights are now located, buying wood lots owned by farmers who harvested them for firewood until coal became widely available. In 1958, Fred sold the land to the state of Vermont. Fred retained the right to grow, manage and harvest timber on these and other lands, that right was not granted to us by the state. At that time, many logging roads were already in place.

While harvesting, we ensure the work complies with the Acceptable Management Practices for maintaining water quality in the state of Vermont. Before the harvest, our team was in discussions with state biologists, who flagged sensitive areas for the logger to avoid. The logger also avoided using the trail where possible, even though it is the logging road. There have been numerous visits by the state forester to observe the progress of the work in the challenging conditions. The beaver pond and bog that drained did so on their own through natural processes; no logging activity occurred near them.

It has rained a lot this year, making for difficult working conditions for loggers, farmers and others. On this harvest, treetops have been laid down to help minimize erosion, an important component of good logging work. I agree, up into the woods, it’s muddy on the section of the trail we had to use. And it should be noted that the nice trails we all enjoy are in many instances located on logging roads.

Great care has been taken to avoid runoff and a bridge was used at the stream crossing. When the job is closed out, the ground will be smoothed out, water bars installed, and some areas will be seeded with conservation mix and hay. The water will settle out of the road and conditions will return to normal. Over time, the trail will grow in, and people will start to forget, again, that this is a logging road.

Logging also provides products that we all use and helps support jobs in Vermont, perhaps even the job of your neighbor. Having local sources of raw materials is important for many woodworkers in Vermont and for other industries, such as animal bedding for farms. We are all interconnected, as was demonstrated by our open house back in September, with many exhibitors who buy from us or sell to us showing how we all depend on each other.

Over the coming years, the forest will recover quickly. The new openings in the canopy will let in sunlight that stimulates vigorous growth. The tops rot down to provide organic matter for the next crop while providing shelter for small animals. For a few years, the tops also protect the vigorous regeneration that is so wonderful to see in hardwood forest. The great abundance of wildlife on Snake Mountain is testimony to the good work our team has done over many years of harvesting in many locations in that area. 

Good forestry practices improve the health of the forest and greatly enhances wildlife habitat, which is one of the many goals of a Wildlife Management Area. There is no “wanton destruction” on Snake Mountain, there is good forestry in difficult logging conditions producing enhanced wildlife habitat and providing jobs and raw materials for local businesses. What is needed now is the long view, appreciating results of the work over the next 10, 20 and 50 years and the abundant new growth that is stimulated by the harvest.

Kenneth D. Johnson

General Manager

The A. Johnson Co. LLC


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