Sustainable Forestry Goes
Family Forests partners with the Girl Scout Council of Vermont to
bring sustainable forestry to Camp Wapanacki in Hardwick, Vermont.
project was funded in part through a grant awarded by the Northern
Forest Partnership Program, a USDA Forest Service, North East State
Foresters Association and the Northern Forest Center program.
VFF has been awarded a grant
from the Northern Forest Center and the North East State Foresters
Association for an exciting, collaborative project we call Sustainable
Forestry Goes to Camp. Through this grant, VFF has teamed up
with the Girl Scout Council of Vermont and the University of Vermont
to integrate sustainable forestry, local value adding, certified forest
product marketing, and hands-on learning within the context of a youth
camping experience in the northern forest.
Each year thousands of young campers head to the Northern Forest for
their annual summer camp experience. These camping experiences provide
an ideal opportunity to explore the ecological, economic, and social
elements of sustainable forestry. Camp Wapanacki, in Hardwick, Vermont,
is owned and operated by the Girl Scout Council of Vermont. Girls
from first grade through high school attend the camp to canoe, kayak,
swim, hike, backpack, and learn arts, crafts, campfire cooking and
more in a forested setting. Although the 300-acre forest has been
cultivated periodically, the management of the forest has not been
fully developed according to sustainable forest management principles.
And the forestry has not been fully integrated into the camping experience.
Through this project, we’ll be making a comprehensive forest
inventory; creating of a natural community map; developing of an FSC-certified
forest management plan; harvesting of a small quantity of timber;
and creating, through local value-adding, a high-quality finished
product that will then be marketed to customers wishing to simultaneously
support the Girl Scouts and sustainable forestry. And we’ll
design and implement an educational program to educate campers and
the public about each step in the process. We’re very excited
about this project, which so fully addresses the three key ingredients
to conserving private lands: informed stewards, sound economic returns
from stewardship, and a community supported land ethic.
That was the feedback from the Girl Scout counselors-in-training who
participated in a Vermont Family Forests workshop in sustainable forestry
in August, 2006. From searching for macroinvertebrates in a forest
stream to hand-planing a spruce board to carve a canoe paddle, the
girls experienced sustainable forestry in action in the woods surrounding
their summer camp.
For ten years, Camp Wapanacki, in Hardwick, Vermont, has been home-away-from-home
during the summer for hundreds of Girl Scouts who come to the camp
to ride horses, swim, camp, canoe, hike, sing songs, and more. Three
hundred acres of rolling, forested landscape form a beautiful backdrop
for camp life.
This year, Vermont Family Forests and the Girl Scouts Council of Vermont
teamed up to move those forests from backdrop to center stage. Our
mutual goal was to integrate sustainable forestry into camp life and
involve campers in the scientific, technological, and economic aspects
of sustainable management of the Camp's forest lands. Moreover, the
project would expose campers to forest-related careers and broaden
their knowledge of the relationships among Vermont's forests, people,
environmental health, and local economic vitality.
The first step was to develop a Forest Stewardship Council-certified
management plan for the property. With this in hand, land managers
can make management decisions that maintain or improve forest health.
This spring, mapping specialist Barb Otsuka inventoried and mapped
the land's natural communities, and Nancy Patch of North Woods Forestry
created the forest management plan. These steps accomplished, Camp
Wapanacki became the latest addition to the VFF certified forest pool.
Next we planned and carried out a workshop that immersed the girls
in sustainable forestry, from the healthy forest to a finished wood
product. Led by Sterling College student Silas Clark of Bristol, the
girls first explored indicators of forest health — excellent
water quality, productive soils, and native biological diversity.
David Brynn of Vermont Family
Forests then explained how a forest manager selects trees for harvest
in a way that maintains forest health. The girls measured and calculated
the lumber volume of a spruce tree that had been selected for thinning.
Then, after a pause to give gratitude to the tree, logger Amelia Gardner
felled the spruce, and the girls carried two eight-foot logs out of
the forest to a nearby portable sawmill.
Local sawyer Will Strong milled the spruce logs into boards, which
the girls carried back to the camp maintenance building, to be stacked
to dry until next summer. Paddle-maker Ann Ingerson of Craftsbury
Common then showed the girls what those spruce boards will yield when
dry — lightweight, beautiful, hand-carved canoe paddles. Ann
demonstrated the paddle-making process, and the girls tried out the
tools, hooting with delight as shavings curled from the wood.
During the fall, the camp will fell and mill several more spruce trees
to build up a supply of wood for paddle-making. Next summer, the wood
will be dry and ready for the first campers to begin carving their
Says Charlie La Rosa of the Girl Scout Council of Vermont board of
directors, "When the girls who attend our camps now come back
with their own daughters in future years, they should be able to point
with pride and satisfaction to the forests they visited, analyzed,
monitored, and cared for when they were Scouts." What's more,
they can share with their daughters the paddles they carefully crafted
out of wood from those healthy, carefully managed forests. Now
that's experiential education!
This fall, the Camp conducted
a small spruce harvest. The wood will be milled locally and air-dried
at the camp for use in paddle-making next summer camp season.
(left) of Sterling College and Camp Wapanacki counselors-in-training
search for macroinvertebrates on stones gathered from a forest stream.
Healthy surface water is one indicator of forest health. Girls also
assessed soil compaction and noted native biological diversity, two
more forest health indicators.
the basics of assessing forest health, the counselors-in-training learned how a forester selects and measures trees to harvest
shows counselors-in-training how to safely fell a tree. She then felled
it precisely where she'd planned to, and cut two 8-foot logs from
the tree for milling.
used traditional logging tools to move and carry the logs to a nearby
portable sawmill, operated by Will Strong.
watch as Will Strong mills the spruce logs into boards, which the
Girl Scouts carry back to camp for storage and
shows the counselors-in-training some of the many canoe paddles she
has carved over the years, then demonstrates how to use hand tools
to carve a wooden blank into a paddle.
Scouts try their hands at paddle carving. Since that workshop, Camp
Wapanacki has conducted a small spruce harvest and plans to use the
wood next year to teach campers how to carve paddles using spruce
from the Camp's sustainably managed forests.