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Forestry Project Monitoring at Alford Springs Nature Preserve.

In 2016 a timber harvest of approximately 25 acres was conducted in the Alford Springs property belonging to Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) in consultation with Mass Wildlife biologists and foresters. The goal of the harvest was to encourage high quality timber, as well as the addition of early successional habitat that supports wildlife. The focus of this project is to evaluate the success of the forestry project in following the management plan. After the forestry cutting, there has been concern from trail users as to why the cut happened and what the property will look like in the future. BNRC hopes to use this information to eventually install an educational interpretive sign on the trail that will engage recreational users with the significance of the property management. I collected data using vegetation plot samples within the cut area as well as the forest around the outside perimeter of the cut. Analysis of the shrubs and saplings vegetative layer shows that the succession within the cut area has introduced a diversity of vegetation that provides cover and browse for wildlife. For example, birch saplings (Betula sp.) and blackberry shrubs (Rubus sp.) are much more common in the cut area than in the reference forest. Removing the canopy has caused the abundance of the preferred timber species of red oak to increase in the sapling layer of the cut area, which will likely lead to a future forest with greater abundance of red oak than the surrounding forested area.