DEEP: 2003 - 100th Anniversary of State Forests Celebrated

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Environmental Accomplishments of the Past 40 Years

100th Anniversary of State Forests Celebrated
(2003)

Background
In the early years of the 20th century, Walter Mulford, Connecticut's first state forester, surveyed about 70 acres of an abandoned field in the shadow of Meshomasic Mountain in Portland.  Mulford then led the state's effort to purchase the land in 1903 for $105, creating the first state forest in Connecticut and New England.
 
Mulford wanted the land so the state could show how landowners could work with the land and how they could bring it back to its natural state.  At the time, only 20 to 25 percent of the state was forested.  The rest had been cleared.
 
In 2003, the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Meshomasic State Forest was celebrated with activities across the state, culminating with a ceremony at People's State Forest in Barkhamsted.
 
Today, the Meshomasic State Forest -- named after the mountain -- has grown to more than 8,200 acres and covers land in the towns of East Hampton, Glastonbury, Hebron, Marlborough, Manchester, Bolton, and Portland.  The forest, which derives its name from the Native American phrase Meshom-as-sek, meaning "great rattlesnake" or the "place of many snakes," is now part of 70 state forests and wildlife management areas covering about 200,000 acres.  As for the state as a whole, about 60 percent of Connecticut is forested.
 
Connecticut’s State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas contribute positively to our air quality, drinking water purity, and wildlife habitat diversity. While these public trust values may be hard to quantify, these lands have also sustained numerous jobs and supported forest-based economies associated with harvesting trees and the creation of value-added local forest products. As dairy farms are the backbone to Connecticut’s agricultural economy so is a steady supply of responsibly harvested timber to Connecticut’s forest products industry estimated to add $500 million to Connecticut’s annual economy and employ some 3,600 people.

The professionals who implement forest and wildlife habitat management plans State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas are certified by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through the Forest Practices Act (FPA) which requires persons engaged in the harvest of commercial forest products to: 1) pass a comprehensive exam that includes biology, best practices, and ethics, 2) demonstrate continuous education, and 3) report annual activities to the Division of Forestry. Certification of forest practitioners has raised the performance bar considerably, and resulted in a regulated community with very high professional standards. All Connecticut residents benefit when FPA compliant tree harvesting occurs in association with forest or wildlife habitat improvement on Connecticut’s private, municipal, or state managed 1.8 million acres of forest land. They can be assured that it is being done in a responsible, scientific, and sensitive manner.  

Since 1970, Connecticut’s State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas have provided the Forestry Division with nearly 1,500 hundred timber harvests:
  • Sold more than 75,000 cords of firewood, a domestic energy source
  • Sold over $20,000,000 of locally grown forest products
  • Demonstrated first-class forest and wildlife management that is emulated by private landowners who own nearly 85% of Connecticut’s forest resource.
More Information

What You Can Do

  • Visit the DEP Forestry and Wildlife Division websites…find out what we’re about. In business since 1901!
  • Go outside! Visit one or more of over 70 State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas. Find out what’s growing and lurking there and possible in your own backyard or woods.
  • Learn where species of special concern may be and tread lightly.
  • Help keep forests and wildlife management areas clean…carry out what you carry in.
  • Obey the off road vehicle regulations.
  • By locally produced forest products; lumber, firewood, maple syrup, and witch hazel.
  • Be SAFE. Wear protective personal equipment when using a chainsaw.
  • Make informed decisions when considering forest or wildlife habitat improvements on your land. Speaking with a DEP Service Forester or Wildlife Biologist is a great way to get started.