Tree Thinning Builds Forest Health, Safety

Posted: March 24, 2016

Source: Zip 06

By: Becky Coffey, Senior Staff Writer

zip06In a selective logging operation, the Valley Shore Y is thinning the forest surrounding its building, parking lots, and fields. The goal of the project is to promote forest health, improve privacy and screening by promoting growth of the understory, and eliminate potential hazards to people presented by falling trees and.limbs.

Of the Valley Shore Y’s 22 acres on Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook, 11 of the 22 acres are undeveloped forest land.

“The trees in the forest were too crowded and needed selective thinning to strengthen those that will remain and to allow the undergrowth to grow. We want to extend the life of the remaining trees by giving them and their crowns breathing room to grow strong and be healthy,” said Y Executive Director Chris Pallato. “Our goal also is to have trees of different ages and heights in the forest. It’s good woodlands management for the trees and for wildlife habitat.”

In announcing the project to Y members, the Y management and the Board’s Property Committee, wrote, “We are strategically removing selected tress on our property that are crowded, damaged, or dangerous.”

In addition to tree thinning for forest health, the project also will remove trees and branches near trails and camper program areas that, if they fell, could present a hazard to camper and teacher safety.

By removing tall trees and thinning the forest, a second benefit is that more sunlight will reach the forest floor, promoting growth of bushes and trees in the understory. This new growth will bring a more diverse habitat for wildlife and will provide better screening between the Y and I-95 and surrounding neighbors, the Y said.

“We have been advised that this will significantly thicken the visual density and coverage of the forest,” wrote the committee.

In summary, the Y management wrote, “We are not clear cutting any portion of the forest. Every tree on our property has been marked and identified and all trees have been selected to accomplish the above goals and guarantee diversity in species, age, size and function. The end result will be a healthier, safer woodlands.”

Pallato said the logging operation would take about three weeks and be completed by the middle of March.

The sale of the logged timber will offset the cost to the Y of conducting the forest thinning operation. Pallato said the forest thinning is the first step in implementing the Valley Shore Y’s new woodland conservation plan.

“We have a very active property commjittee and woodlands is part of their responsibility,” said Pallato. “There have been deaths around the country when branches have fallen and killed campers.”