Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont Early Successional Habitat Creation Project


South Fork timber sale unit proposed for logging.

Photo credit: Zack Porter

Why this forest is special

The Green Mountain National Forest is one of two national forests in New England and is known for dramatic fall foliage where sugar maples, beech and birch are ablaze with red, orange and yellow. Created in response to uncontrolled logging in the first half of the 20th century, the 400,000-acre national forest is home to abundant wildlife including beaver, moose, black bears and several endangered species. The Appalachian Trail runs through this forest, as do eight designated wilderness areas and two national recreation areas. Some 70 million people live within a day's drive of Green Mountain, making it one of the most visited national forests in the United States.

Early Successional Habitat Creation Project

The project will cut up to 14,270 acres. Site maps show that more than 130 stands older than 100 years are targeted, some with trees 160 years and older. The project will also bulldoze 25 miles of logging roads, 17 miles of which could be permanent.

Carbon storage and biodiversity

Lands in the Green Mountain National Forest have recovered from past agricultural clearing and logging to a greater degree than surrounding private lands, and now comprise an important carbon sink. With many trees now 80 years and older, the forest is rapidly accumulating carbon and could store two to four times more carbon if allowed to grow old. The project area is habitat for a host of imperiled and sensitive species that depend on large unfragmented landscapes and structurally complex old forests. These animals include martens, Indiana and northern long-eared bats, Blackburnian and cerulean warblers, and scarlet tanagers.

Why these trees should remain standing

Mature, unfragmented forests are rare in New England. Studies show there is also plenty of early seral habitat, or young forest, refuting Forest Service claims that logging here will “improve forest health” for wildlife. Green Mountain National Forest is a critical forested landscape in the broader New England-Adirondack region. Of great concern is the harm this project would cause to northern long-eared bats, which rely on large, old trees within the project area for roosting and raising young. The federal government recently proposed uplisting the bat from threatened to endangered because it may go extinct throughout its range; the Forest Service has failed to consider the harm intensive logging of mature forests will have on the bat.

The future of mature and old-growth trees in Green Mountain National Forest

The 2006 Green Mountain forest plan calls for a significant reduction in northern hardwood trees, possibly including some that are 250 years old. This sets back this forest’s recovery from intensive logging in the 1800s. Logging in Green Mountain National Forest has increased considerably in the last seven years. The Forest Service has approved logging 40,000 acres, or 10% of the entire national forest, including targeting many mature and old trees.

Project status

The Forest Service approved this project in 2019. Timber sales will be issued for the next 10 years.

Local contact: Zack Porter, Standing Trees, zporter@standingtrees.org

The Worth More Standing report spotlights federal forest-management practices that are liquidating mature and old-growth forests and trees every day. It includes 10 examples that are part of a pervasive pattern of federal forest mismanagement that routinely sidesteps science to turn carbon-storing giants into lumber. Learn what actions you can take to protect Climate Forests across the country.