RCF’s Farrar parcel is being selectively cut

A We-Log Inc. of Colebrook employee moves a mature ash log in the log yard off Rte. 2 on Monday, Dec. 20, as part of a selective cut on land long-owned by the late Almon Farrar that’s now part of the 10,000-acre-plus Randolph Community Forest. (EDITH TUCKER PHOTO)

RANDOLPH — A 48-acre parcel on the north side of Route 2 is being selectively cut by loggers from WeLog Inc. of Colebrook, owned by president-owner Malcolm Washburn.

This cut on the 10,000-plus-acre Randolph Community Forest has been on the docket for at least a couple of years, but the timing now was just right to get it done, explained Forest Commission chairman John Scarinza.

“This is a first-time improvement-thinning, primarily to remove the ash component of this stand that was showing signs of decline due to both competition and ‘armillaria mellea’ — aka shoestring fungus — and our LandVest foresters recommended it be harvested in order to retain its timber value,” Scarinza said. “Mature yellow birch and other species are also being harvested, all to promote an evenly spaced canopy that encourages crown expansion of the remaining healthy red and sugar maple trees.

“Because of the soil conditions at this site, a cut-to-length harvesting system is being used, which allows all the brush that’s being generated to remain on the forest floor, firming up the skid trails and reducing soil compaction,” he continued.

A forwarder is also being used to carry the merchantable logs from the forest to the landing area off Route 2 rather than having a skidder drag them to the landing area, disturbing or even tearing up the soil.

“A 50-foot buffer to the Crystal Mine hiking trail is being maintained, with the exception of any identified hazard trees that are being removed for the hikers’ safety,” Scarinza concluded.

The state’s intent to cut form that’s posted on-site lists a variety of species to be harvested, including 1,500 board feet of spruce and fir, 1.5 MBF (1,000 board feet) of hard maple; three MBF of white birch, two MBF of yellow birch, three MBF of ash, 1.5 MBF of soft maple, 13.5 MBF of beech, pallet and tie logs, plus 20 tons of spruce and fir pulpwood and 835 tons of hardwood and aspen.

LandVest district forester David DeGruttola of Bethel, Maine, signed the intent form as did the town’s three select board members: co-chairs Michele Cormier, Lauren Bradley and John Turner.

Only part of the land once owned by Almon Farrar, a former selectman who died in February 2005 just before his 89th birthday, is now being selectively cut.

His entire 77-acre property, through which Route 2 runs, was bought by David and Dodie Willcox of Randolph in October 2011 so it could be added to the RCF, including frontage on the Israel River. The couple bought the land after they learned that its longtime owner had hoped it would not be further developed.

Town meeting voted to add 4.5 acres to the Farrar parcel that the town already owned on its east side, and a total of 80-plus acres were added to the RCF.

“The Farrar tract created a permanent linkage — a natural wildlife corridor — to a much greater degree than we had previously,” Scarinza said at the time. Until then, the only link had been a narrow 50-foot-wide one at Bowman, the height of land between the Connecticut and Androscoggin River Valleys.

The town of Randolph owns the Randolph Community Forest, which includes 1,000-plus-acres in Jefferson, subject to a conservation easement held by the state of New Hampshire.

Acquiring the forest on Dec. 4, 2001, was the final step in an effort that had begun some four years earlier when the town Planning Board learned that the then-owner of the 10,000-acre industrial forest, Hancock Timber Resources Group, had applied in 1996 to enroll its local holdings in the federal Forest Legacy Program. The devastating Ice Storm of 1998 changed Hancock’s plans, however, and the Boston-based timber company decided to sell all its holdings in both Randolph and Jefferson.

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