Guyette Farm Forestry: Managing for wildlife and local wood
Overview and Project Partners
Franklin Land Trust will be engaged in logging operations at its Guyette Farm Conservation Area on Gloyd St and South Central Street in Plainfield. This work is funded by a Wildlife Habitat Grant from the Department of Fish and Game and will create 17.5 acres of young forest habitat that will benefit ruffed grouse, woodcock, and a host of other wildlife species. This work is guided by FLT’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) partners: The Ruffed Grouse Society, the American Woodcock Society and the Wildlife Management Institute.
This harvest will help FLT achieve two main goals:
- Create important young forest habitat by clearing a total of 17.5 acres of forested land on two separate stands, an 11.7 acre white pine stand and a 5.8 acre stand of large poplar.
The Massachusetts 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan defines young forest as:
Habitat typically dominated by rapidly growing trees and shrubs, and generally occurring when a mature forest canopy is disrupted, allowing sunlight to stimulate the growth of herbaceous and woody vegetation on the forest floor. Overall, young forests support a great diversity of wildlife species and are a critical component of wildlife habitat at the landscape level.
This kind of shrubby, young forest habitat is lacking throughout our region. Less than .5% of managed young forest habitat exists within a 2-mile radius of Guyette Farm, the rest of the landscape is developed land, open fields or closed woods. Species such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, and songbirds like the chestnut sided warbler and white throated sparrow are in decline on statewide scale. These birds need the food, cover and nesting grounds that the growing trees and shrubs of a young forest provide.
- Generate a local source of timber to be used in the re-construction of the old barn’s ell frame that was dismantled and stored for future raising.
Using wood means that trees are cut somewhere. In Massachusetts, we import 98% of our wood products, which requires higher transportation energy costs and emissions. By using wood sourced from Guyette Farm, FLT will greatly reduce the environmental footprint of the ell.
Once reconstructed, the ell will serve as an event and workshop space for FLT and the Raspberry Hill Community Garden. Any and all proceeds of this harvest will be used for the ell construction as well as ongoing management of Guyette Farm resources and infrastructure.
The Massachusetts Woodlands Institute, a subsidiary of Franklin Land trust, received a grant to promote the use of local wood in western Massachusetts. Visit to find an online directory of local sawmills and kilns, stories of people who prioritize the use of local wood in their building projects, and to learn more about why local wood is important.
Below is a rendering of the reconstructed ell frame that will be built using timber from this wildlife harvest.
The 11.7-acre white pine stand sits on rich mesic soils and has a northern hardwood understory with old legacy sugar maples scattered throughout. Some pines have started to fall over due to poor pine site and poor canopy structure. The majority of the pine overstory will be removed, enabling a young hard wood forest to grow in its place. Legacy Maple trees, and important soft and hard mast producing tree species such as maple and oak will be retained.
The 5.8-acre stand is primarily made up of poplar, but also contains hemlock, pine and some hardwood species. This rich mesic site is a great candidate to become a poplar thicket, due to the number of large healthy stems of poplar throughout.
Woody debris such as tree tops and branches will be left on the ground to provide important cover for wildlife, and to allow nutrients to re-absorb into the soil.
This harvest will result in a 11.7-acre stand of young northern hardwood forests and a 5.8-acre young poplar thicket. Within 5 years these areas will be bustling with wildlife activity. Young hardwood trees will be growing amidst shrubs and fruiting plants, and wildlife will be nesting and feeding on these young plants.
The creation of this young forest habitat will compliment FLT’s ongoing management practices at the Guyette Farm, including the management of grassland and shrubland habitat, invasive plant monitoring and removal, pollinator planting, and the wildland area of mature forest that is bisected by Meadow Brook’s riparian habitat.
Outreach and Education
FLT held two community and public walks in the fall of 2018 and plans to hold a series of walks in the spring of 2019 to discuss the harvest. The work is being documented using drone footage that will be used to educate landowners about the benefits of young forest habitat. For your safety, Guyette Farm trails will be closed to the public and entrance into the forest will be restricted during the harvest. You can visit our website for regular updates about the harvest. Visit the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute’s website for more information about managing forests for wildlife at www.masswoodlands.org.
March 20, 2019
Piles, snags and filter strips: what’s left behind
FLT, our partners in conservation, and S&N Logging are nearing completion of the Guyette Farm Young Forest habitat project. As you drive by you will notice that we have left behind key structural components within the harvest areas.
You will see large brush piles within the 5.8-acres harvest area. These piles are made up of tops, limbs and brush, that were removed from the forest floor during the harvest. Unlike in the 11.7 acres harvest area where tops, limbs and brush were left on the ground. There are two significant reasons for removing this brush. First, the removal of debris will help to warm the forest floor to over 55 degrees to encourage aggressive sprouting of aspen throughout the harvest area. A thicket of young aspenwill greatly benefit the target species of ruffed grouse and woodcock. Second, the removal of brush will allow for the American Woodcock to easily move throughout the area once the aspen thicket has been established. In addition, the piles will offer important shelter and cover for a number of other wildlife species.
Some large individual logs were left on site to become “drumming logs” which will be used by ruffed grouse during their territorial displays. Click here to see a ruffed grouse “drumming” on a log.
You will notice some large standing dead trees, or snags, within the 11.8-acre harvest area. This dead and decaying wood becomes a home to a wide variety of insects. The cavities found within these snags are nests for birds like pileated woodpeckers, owls and bluebirds and other wildlife like racoons, flying squirrels, and bats that require or prefer these cavities. Snags are also used as perches for raptors.
Strips of trees and shrubs along streams within both harvest areas were left behind. These trees and shrubs act as filter strips, helping to maintain the flow of clean water and the integrity of stream banks. When planning and permitting a timber harvest, a DCR Service Foresteridentifies and designates any streams within the timber harvest area. The forest cutting practices act requires that a 50-foot buffer be maintained on either side of a designated stream. Within this buffer 50% of the basil area can be removed. Basil area is a measurement of forest density. Trees selected to be removed within the 11.8-acre harvest area were primarily white pine and hemlock, leaving northern hardwood species like maple, and birch behind.
Guyette Farm Forestry Update: February 5th, 2019
Protecting Our Streams
Forest landowners must comply with the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act when harvesting or cutting timber. Before a timber harvest of this size and scale can be approved, landowners must file a forest cutting the plan with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Cutting plans are reviewed by a service forester who walks the property with the landowner’s licensed forester to go over environmental impacts and regulations. An important consideration when harvesting timber is the protection of wetlands and waterways.
Within the Guyette Farm timber harvest area there are a number of small streams that logging equipment will need to cross. The photos below show two temporary stream crossings constructed out of 4x16ft timber pads that are laid out perpendicular to the stream. This keeps equipment and materials out of the stream and prevents damage to the stream banks. In addition, the Forest Cutting Practices Act requires 50ft filter strips to remain on either side of the stream. This means that 50% of the forest density must be retained within 50 ft of the stream corridor.
This is an example of just one of the many best management practices that are required by the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act. This statute protects the environmental integrity of the harvest area while also accomplishing the goals of the forest management plan.
Guyette Farm Forestry Update: January 31st, 2019
Forestry operations have started on Guyette Farm’s 5.8-acre poplar stand, off of South Central Road, in Plainfield. This week’s cold temperatures make
excellent conditions for loggers to work because the ground is frozen, ensuring the protection of soils from erosion and compaction.
This temporary road winds its way through the 5.8-acre poplar stand. It has been built to enable logging equipment to move between a primary and secondary
landing on either side of the harvest area. Once the logging operation is complete, this road will be left to regrow into a young poplar thicket along
with the rest of the 5.8-acre stand.
The timber processor and forwarder are working at the secondary landing where where trees are being limbed and cut to length. The forwarder then sorts
the logs and transports them to the primary landing near S. Central Rd where further sorting can be done by species and quality before being loaded
on trucks.The brush accumulated on the secondary landing will be stock piled and windrowed for wildlife habitat. A windrow is a long row of brush that
will be left behind for wildlife, such as rabbits and ground nesting birds, to use as cover. By removing brush within the harvest area itself, woodcock
will be better able to maneuver within the poplar thicket once it regrows. The handling of brush in this harvest is different than that in the other,
white pine, harvest area. More on that later.
FLT is working with Heath photographer Douglas Mason to capture pre, during and post-harvest images of this wildlife management project using drones. FLT
and Doug Mason will eventually compile the video footage into a short educational film about managing woodlands for wildlife habitat.
For your safety, we have closed this area to public access.