Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Green Mountain forests

A good article in the Burlington Free Press highlights how the Forest Service cares for Vermont's protected forests.  It also focuses on Ripton's lands.

A visit to just one corner of the Green Mountain National Forest, along a dirt road called Natural Turnpike in Ripton, reveals the complex dance the National Forest Service does with the landscape’s ecology, the changing, fragile state of the wildlife and plants in the forests, and the often-conflicting goals of the people who love the forest so much there’s a danger they could love it to death.

The road originally was built in the 1960s for timbering, but now has vacation houses and a few year-round homes tucked into small yards at the edges of the forest. Logging trucks occasionally rumble by. Usually, in the winter, people come up the road to access snowmobile trails and smaller, separate trails for snowshoing and cross country skiing.

The snow cover was oddly thin in the forest in mid-February. Much of the Green Mountain National Forest is a working landscape, almost as much as a farm might be. The forest around Natural Turnpike Road shows wide-ranging signs of human activity. Despite the lack of snow, there was evidence of half-hearted attempts at snowmobiling and skiing. Footprints in the mud alongside the road, some leading off into the forest, meant hikers have been around. A low rumble off the far end of the road came from a logging operation....

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