By ecoRI News staff
EXETER, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will conduct a forest health project later this summer on about 200 acres in the Arcadia Management Area. The aim is to perpetuate the oak forest by thinning the canopy and removing dead trees to promote healthy growth.
DEM officials noted that it isn’t clear-cutting; only dead trees, previously identified by the state agency, will be removed during this timber harvesting project in an area east of Mount Tom Trail.
The project aims to salvage oak species affected by repeated defoliations from forest tent and gypsy moth caterpillars, improve the overall health of the forest and wildlife habitat, reduce fire risk, and support the rural economy, according to DEM. State officials will advise the public when it knows the exact harvesting dates.
The work includes thinning out the tree canopy and removing dead trees to improve the forest’s resilience to withstand pests and storms. DEM foresters strategically selected the trees to be harvested and will closely monitor the project to ensure that only dead trees are removed. Low, dense shrubs and stumps will remain to enhance wildlife habitat and promote healthy forest regrowth.
DEM’s Division of Forest Environment, which manages 40,000 acres of state-owned forestland, is overseeing the project. The tree harvesting will be performed by Rhode Island-registered wood operators who have bid on the project.
DEM said the project supports the rural economy by providing registered wood operators with timber to sell; harvested trees are often used for wood chips, mulch, and firewood.
The state agency is developing an outreach effort on timber harvesting projects, including the one planned at Arcadia, to make community members and local officials aware of planned cutting operations on state-owned management areas and to improve the public’s understanding of the benefits of forest stewardship for wildlife habitat, forest health, and public safety.