PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is advising the public that a timber harvesting project will get underway later this summer in the Arcadia Management Area in Exeter. 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. DEM will advise the public when it knows exact harvesting dates.
This forest health project will be conducted on about 200 acres in an area east of Mt. Tom Trail to perpetuate the oak forest. Specifically, the work includes thinning out the tree canopy and removing dead trees to promote healthy growth and improve the forest's resilience to withstand pests and storms. This is not clear-cutting; 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 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 registered 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 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. 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.