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Shifting Seasons for Forest Harvests in New England


Winter logging operations are more challenging in the recent warmer, shorter, and more variable winter conditions across New England.

Over time, it is likely that the duration of snowpack on the ground will decrease, and more logging will need to occur in the summer under conditions that often raise logging costs and increase the risk of damage to soils and the residual forest. The Vermont Land Trust implemented a summer timber sale on what would typically be “winter ground” to better understand these issues. A drier-than-average summer allowed for logging to take place, but the timber sale revenue was reduced because of the need for a temporary bridge (not necessary in winter) and more time and effort was needed for timber sale preparation and administration to avoid on-site impacts that aren’t normally an issue in the winter. As forest conditions change with climate, managers will have to address new challenges in different ways, while still maintaining the health and productivity of our forests. 

By Maria Janowiak, Director, USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub