Pittenden Roadless Area, a significant portion is 90-150 years old and included in Telephone Gap Project Area. Photo credit: Zack Porter
Why this forest is special
The Green Mountain National Forest is the largest block of public lands in Vermont and the state’s only national forest. At 400,000 acres, the area features dramatic mountains, enchanting forests and rushing rivers. Outstanding recreation opportunities like the Long Trail, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing draw millions of visitors each year. Many Vermont rivers flow from headwaters within the national forest, providing an abundance of clean water for Lake Champlain and the Connecticut and Hudson rivers. In autumn, there’s nowhere more spectacular to see the display of fall foliage as the sugar maples, beech and birch are ablaze with reds, oranges and yellows.
Telephone Gap Integrated Resource Project
The Forest Service is considering logging more than 10,000 acres, with 85% of those trees likely to be mature, more than 80 years old, and 55% older than 100 years.
Carbon and biodiversity
The Green Mountain National Forest is a significant carbon sink, with carbon stocks increasing 48% between 1990 and 2013. The forest is recovering from overcutting and land clearing for agriculture in the late 1800s and early 1900s. With most trees now reaching 80 years and older, as well as less logging, the forest is rapidly accumulating carbon and could store two to four times more carbon if allowed to grow old. The Green Mountains harbor an incredible diversity of common and imperiled plants and animals. The forest contains the largest roadless areas in Vermont, including a 16,000-acre roadless area likely to be logged as a part of the Telephone Gap project. One of Vermont’s two remaining pine marten populations is found here, as well as threatened northern long-eared bats, which are being considered for endangered species status. The martens and bats rely on old forests for their survival.
Why these trees should remain standing
The Forest Service claims this logging proposal is needed to create early successional habitat and produce timber. Early successional habitat in the Green Mountains is created naturally by wind, ice, beavers and, rarely, fire. Old forests with large trees, abundant dead and downed wood, and natural canopy gaps create diverse habitat for Vermont’s native species, reduce the risk of downstream flooding, improve water quality, and sequester and store significant amounts of carbon. The Forest Service should target younger trees if it wants to increase early-successional habitat.
The sale is in the early planning stages. The public comment process is set to begin in summer 2022. The Forest Service anticipates project implementation will take four years and begin in spring 2023.
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 up to or possibly exceeding 250 years old, setting back the clock on this forest’s recovery from intensive logging in the 1800s. Logging in the Green Mountain National Forest has increased considerably, in the last seven years, 40,000 acres of logging was approved, or 10% of the entire national forest, targeting a considerable number of mature and old trees.
How you can help
Sign our targeted letter to Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Haaland to call for durable protections for mature and old-growth forests on federal lands.
Submit Letters to the Editor about this project to your local newspaper.
Send emails and make phone calls to the East regional Forest Service office to oppose the Telephone Gap logging project.
Local contact: Zack Porter, Standing Trees, firstname.lastname@example.org