Guild Members Complete Service Project at the Holt Research Forest

Written by Logan Johnson, Northeast Region Coordinator

On May 15, members of the Forest Stewards Guild joined a joint service project and Guild Gathering at the Holt Research Forest in Arrowsic, Maine. The group’s task was to reestablish a research grid in the nearly 100-acre study area in the forest.

The Holt Research Forest is a 350-acre research forest owned by the Maine Timber Research & Environmental Education Foundation (Main TREE). The research project, supported by the University of Maine, started in 1983. Ever since, continuous data collection has occurred, including a 100-percent inventory of over 30,000 trees in the study area. A timber harvest in the fall and winter of 2020/21, was the first in the forest since 1988.

The consulting forester who worked on the Timber Harvest project was Guild founding member Barrie Brusila, working off a plan by fellow long-time Guild member, forester, and wildlife biologist Rob Bryan. After the harvest, Barrie approached the Guild about hosting a service day to help Maine TREE reestablish the research grid, crucial to the ongoing data collection. Of course, Northeast Guild members were up for the task.

Jonathan LaBonte, Maine TREE’s Executive Director, expressed the value of this service day for the organization. “With only a small staff team, Maine TREE depends greatly on the generous contributions of time and talent from members of the forest community to advance our programs. We were excited at the prospect of the Forest Stewards Guild hosting a service project in support of reestablishing our research grid and are thankful for their leadership in many areas of the forest stewardship in our state.”

The day started with a brief overview of the Holt Research Forest and the ongoing data collection, followed by instructions for grid reestablishment in the field. In total, 17 Guild members and friends formed six crews and went to work in the woods.

Six graduate students joined the work party, four from the University of Vermont and two from the University of Maine. Five of the students were able to stay overnight at the Holt Research Forest and enjoyed dinner in downtown Bath, just 10-minutes from the facility. A focus for the workday was to provide networking opportunities for the students. They were assigned to crews with professional members to learn about the different types of work that Guild members do.

The day wasn’t all work. While in the field, volunteers enjoyed the signs of wildlife, including a deer antler shed, an orchestra of bird songs, and hermit thrush eggs, conveniently tucked in a pile of the slash left by the harvest. Working in teams, students and professionals enjoyed sharing these discoveries together. The morning flew by.

After a few hours of work, the volunteers reconvened for tasty, bagged lunches provided by Maine TREE. Each spoke in the introductions circle, a Guild staple, where they shared how they became involved with the Guild. If not yet members, they spoke to why they chose a forest-based career path.

Following lunch, the group returned to the woods for a post-harvest tour and silviculture discussion led by Barrie, and Holt Research Forest Scientist, Jack Witham.

“This service day at the Holt Research Forest was the perfect way to gather our community together – safely – to learn and work together in the woods,” said Guild Deputy Director Amanda Mahaffey, “I look forward to many more Guild Gatherings in our brightening future.”