Fire Prevention: Saving the forest for the trees

Posted on August 31, 2023 | By Deborah Carr | 0 Comments

Fire prevention starts with forest protection; lessons in woodlot management


Mike Spence leads the way through the forest, pointing out landscape features and individual trees, mushrooms and woodland flowers. Sunlight filters through the leafy canopy, moss cushions the ground, water tumbles over roots and stones in a nearby brook. We spot tracks from a doe and fawn, a moose and bear.

“We’re trying to maintain the forest that’s been here for 200 years,” he said. “We have maple, yellow and white birch, spruce, oak, hornbeam, ironwood and ash…”

Spence knows every foot of his 900-acre property as well as he knows his own capabilities. The shaded softwood stands, the mixed hardwoods, the places that hold snow in winter, the clean water springs, the bogs and small brooks, the beaver pond.

This is as close to an original Wabanaki-Acadian forest as you might find these days, but the Baie Verte, N.B. woodlot owner is starting to see worrisome change. He can’t work in the woods as late in spring as he once did because frost leaves the ground earlier. Temperatures are rising. Water levels are dropping. Bogs are shrinking. He wonders what the future holds.

He navigates to the pale stump of a red spruce almost two feet across. A few feet away, its trunk disappears into a tangle of branches. “This tree is about 200-years-old. I’d never have cut it, but the top came down in Fiona.” He pauses. Removes his hat, swipes his hand through his hair before replacing it. Scans the length of the trunk.

“I’ll save this for something special. We’ll not see trees like this again.”


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