CT Forest Clearcut for a Good Reason

While it may not look so great to people at first, give it a couple of years – then young forest wildlife definitely won't see this wooded area in western Connecticut as "decimated." Instead, they’ll throng to it for food, shelter, and hiding places.

By Rob Ryser for the Danbury, CT, NewsTimes

NEWTOWN — At first glance, it looks as though a hurricane moved inland and wiped out 12 acres of hardwood forest.

spotted turtle

Spotted turtle is one of seven Connecticut reptiles that need young forest, which can be created through logging, prescribed burning, and other habitat management techniques./J.D. Mayes

But on closer inspection, it’s clear that scores of perfectly healthy oak and maple trees were cut down by man. Then comes the big revelation: The clear-cutting was done on purpose by conservationists.

The decimated forest at Stone Bridge Preserve is part of a statewide plan, endorsed by leading ecologists, to promote habitat diversity in the open spaces of Connecticut and to encourage the survival of vulnerable species such as the New England cottontail.

“It is a problem all over the Northeast in terms of having an over-abundance of heavily canopied mature forest,” said Karlyn Sturmer, a volunteer with the Newtown Conservation Commission.

The transformation of the 42-acre preserve off Route 34 from a forest of older trees into a terrain of cut timber and floods of sunlight is expected to produce a young forest that is ideal for species such as long-tailed weasels, spotted turtles and monarch butterflies.

The Newtown Conservation Commission will welcome state biologists, town officials and other partners in the forest transformation project to a walk-through of the property on Friday, September 8.

For more information, visit the website of the Newtown Conservation Commission. The Commission notes: "Treetops and brush will remain on the ground to provide immediate shelter and food for wildlife until young native trees and shrubs can establish themselves. While it may appear unkempt for a few years, the result will greatly increase plant and wildlife diversity. It is a unique opportunity for Newtown residents to witness the creation of a young forest."