Forestry: What is Growing in the Highland Forest?

Forestry team leader Aaron working the log splitter
By Aaron Lefland, Forestry and Stewardship Coordinator

Driving past the snowed-in farm stand, you probably wouldn’t think much is happening at Land’s Sake. However, this is the season when our forestry team heads into the woods to continue Weston’s ongoing forest stand improvement project. Since the early 1980s, Land’s Sake has worked with the Weston Conservation Commission to rotationally manage parcels of town forest. As part of this process, unhealthy and low-grade trees are removed and turned into firewood. What remains are healthy, commercially valuable trees that will continue growing for years to come.

Right now, the forestry team is working in the Highland Forest, across from the Sunset Corner parking area. This site is comprised of a mix of species including White Pine, Hemlock, Black Birch, Red Oak, and White Oak, though we will only cut hardwood species to make firewood. Each one of these species has their own unique characteristics, smells, and other physical properties. Learn about three of those species below!

Black Birch, (Betula lenta):

Many of you have probably tasted the refreshing, wintergreen-like flavor of birch beer. The flavoring for that drink actually comes from the sap of the Black Birch. Not surprisingly, when felling a Black Birch or splitting the logs into firewood, that wintergreen smell can diffuse and make the whole area smell quite lovely. Black Birch is also one of the best firewood species in the region as it gives off a tremendous amount of heat per log when compared with other species.

Red Oak, (Quercus rubra):

Anyone that has ever split wood with a maul probably has a favorite species of wood, and ours is definitely Red Oak. The straight and open grain of Red Oak makes it easy to split most pieces with one or two hits. Even when our logs are covered in snow, we know when we are trying to split this species because it is so easy. Red Oak also has a slightly sour smell when split, contrasting with the sweet smell of the Black Birch.

White Oak, (Quercus alba):

The last hardwood species commonly found in our work site is the majestic White Oak. This species is relative water and rot resistant, making it the perfect choice when constructing wine and whiskey barrels. In addition, White Oak is commonly used to make furniture and instruments. Land’s Sake has been happy to partner with local artisan Marc Thibeault, who will be making a banjo from White Oak harvested from our current work site.

If you would like to learn more about the work we are doing in the woods, feel free to stop by and say hello. We are usually in the woods from 9-4 during the workweek and would be happy to talk more about the work we are doing to improve Weston’s forests.