Craig Coleman: Active Management

Craig Coleman: Active Management

Craig Coleman: Active Management

Craig Coleman lives just outside Springfield, VT where he manages a 65-acre woodland. He purchased the property in 1995 and moved to the area in 2007 after he retired. Ownership of the land is divided between Craig and his sister, but he manages the entire parcel. Craig worked in Connecticut before moving to VT. The land had been high-graded when he bought it. It was cheap, but not in good shape. Craig came into his land ownership with the belief that leaving the woods alone would be best. He would let the forest “do its own thing” and let it grow in whatever way it would grow. However, his longtime consulting forester, Robbo Holleran, showed him that an active approach to managing his woodland would be better for the forest, and he has taken it to heart.

In his time living in VT, Craig has made three patch cuts to encourage new generation growth. The cuts also helped increase bird habitat. Trails were installed with an excavator making a clear path for vehicles when logging is done. The trails limit disturbance on the area from the machines, and are good for walking too. Other management has been done with the help of Robbo Holleran. Craig does his own form of active management by cutting trees for firewood for his home. Instead of skidding the timber he uses a woods wagon. After blocking the timber in the woods, he transports the blocks with the wagon. The wagon reduces soil compaction, and blocking in the woods keeps his yard cleaner. The management on his woodland is paying off as he said that the land coming back after the harsh high-grade cut 25 years ago.

Craig has immersed himself in forestry material in order to better understand his woods and how best to care for it. He feels that learning how the woods work and having knowledge about the basic principles of forestry is an important part of active management. He joined the VWA in 2007 at the recommendation of Robbo and has been a dedicated member attending woods walks, workshops, and participating in other programs. He has particularly enjoyed the woods walks.

Apart from the VWA, Craig is a member of VT Coverts and the NRCS’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Through CSP, he receives $1,000 each year for practicing good stewardship of his land. He called this a “good deal for landowners if they qualify.” His land is enrolled in the Vermont Tree Farm program and Vermont’s Current Use program. He also completed the first three classes of the Game of Logging. He continues to learn on his own through reading forestry literature (American Canopy by Eric Rutkow was a recommendation of his) and staying up-to-date on recent happenings in the forestry world. Through his learning, Craig is able to better steward his land for the long-term and have “the time frame of a century” toward his land, as he put it.

Craig works closely with and appreciates greatly forest professionals. He shared that he is very pleased with the work his consulting forester Robbo has done through the years. He has learned a great deal from him and considers him a friend, and not just a forester. He has found the NRCS to be a good resource for his forest questions, particularly questions concerning
invasive species control. He has had good experiences with his NRCS forester, Travis Hart, who inspects his land. He has also worked with Steve Hagenbuch from Audubon VT who conducted a bird habitat assessment on his land. The knowledge of each of these and other forest professionals have been helpful and are greatly valued by Craig.

Currently, the toughest challenge Craig faces in managing his land is his health. He is 75-years old and suffers from osteoarthritis in his left ankle. This makes walking in his woods difficult, and limits his ability to work in his woods. However, he continues to do what he can and will continue to do so for as long as he is able.

Looking ahead, Craig plans to do some more thinning in his woods to lessen overcrowding and continue crop tree releasing, something he has done in the past. With the parcel coming back to a healthy state Craig expects to have one timber harvest sometime in the future. He also wants to make his woods hospitable to wildlife, which he cares about greatly. He
wants to manage his woods in a way that produces more than just a good harvest. He envisions his forest being a healthy and productive place for people and wildlife.