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Working Winter Woodlands

Posted Friday, February 12, 2021
2021 Winter NewsletterIntro

Photo: Charlie Hancock

Landowners from Bakersfield and Fletcher meet as part of work to expand CHC’s Woodlots program into all seven Cold Hollow area towns.

Greetings friends, and welcome to the Winter 2021 edition of CONNECTIONS, the quarterly newsletter from Cold Hollow to Canada. Winter may have had a slow start, but looking out the window today one can’t deny that the snow is finally here. We hope that you and yours are safe, healthy, and able to get out and enjoy the magical world that is winter in the Cold Hollows.

Winter may seem like a quiet time in our forests—indeed there are few experiences like walking through a stand of hemlock blanketed with a thick snow that muffles all but the crunch of your snowshoes—but in truth our woodlands come alive with activity this time of year. Frozen ground and a thick buffer of snow reduces the impact of machinery on our forest roads and trails, and the cold temperatures allow for harvested logs to sit longer before any concern for stain or degradation sets in. Our friends and neighbors that find their livelihood with a chainsaw or behind the wheel of a skidder are often up before the dawn to put together hitches of maple, ash, and pine. Our truck drivers, the often-unsung heroes of the supply chain, ensure that this material makes it to our mills (both here in Vermont, and those strung like Christmas lights just over the border in Quebec) as their yards fill in eager anticipation of turning this material in the sturdy timbers that frame our homes, and the beautifully grained lumber that faces our floors and cabinetry. As we feed our wood stoves to ward off the winter chill, we also can’t forget that this is when so much of our firewood is drawn out to season over the summer. We often focus here on the wild, the webs of ecological function, the wildlife which traverse this terrain, and global implications of our local stewardship decisions. However, we can’t forget the contributions made by those that work in these woodlands, or the associated industries that help define our rural communities and make our lives richer. It’s to these rugged individuals that we turn our thoughts today in an appreciation of our winter working landscape, and all those that support it. 

Our team at CHC has also been busy this winter. January saw the seeds sown for a new Woodlots Group in Bakersfield and Fletcher. Following in the footsteps of our friends in Enosburg, Montgomery, and Richford, these landowners came together to begin the conversation around forest stewardship on their shared landscape. Our Woodlots program has drawn attention from across New England as a model for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration around building forest resiliency in the face of a changing climate, and enhancing wildlife habitat and connectivity for the charismatic wildlife that define our region. Learn more about the Woodlots Program here. We’re looking forward to continuing down this path with our friends in Bakersfield and Fletcher as we continue to expand our work in the Cold Hollows and beyond.

We hope you enjoy this edition. Herein you’ll find out about Winter Tree ID, the results from our partners at the UVM Gould lab on Vermonters’ relationship to nature during COVID, a thank you to our 2020 donors, and a talk by our friend Fred Wiseman about the cultural ecology of the Abenaki. All the best for you and yours in this New Year, and don’t forget to watch this space for the exciting things to come.