PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is advising the public that a timber harvesting project will get underway soon in the Hillsdale Preserve Management Area in Richmond. The project aims to salvage oak species impacted by repeated defoliations from forest tent and gypsy moth caterpillars, improve the overall health of the forest and wildlife habitat, reduce fire risk, and protect water quality.
This forest health project will be conducted on about 100 acres on the both east and west sides of Hillsdale Road to perpetuate the oak forest. Specifically, the work includes thinning out the tree canopy and removing dead trees to promote healthy growth and improve its resilience to pests and storms. This is not clear cutting; DEM foresters strategically selected the trees to be harvested and have marked them with blue paint. 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 rural forestland, is overseeing the project. Tree harvesting will be performed by Rhode Island registered wood operators who have bid on the project, and DEM foresters will supervise and monitor the harvest operation. The project supports the rural economy by providing register wood operators with timber to sell; harvested trees are often used for wood chips, mulch, and firewood.
DEM is developing an outreach effort on timber harvesting projects, including the one planned at Hillsdale Preserve, 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. The targeted audience includes local officials; neighbors/homeowners; management area users such as hunters, fishers, and hikers; and other recreational partners.
For information on DEM programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM for timely updates.