“Ugly Effect” Brings Balance to CT Woodland

By Julia Werth, in the Connecticut Examiner

LYME – With hardly any tall trees, the ground covered in grasses and sedges and a few large piles of brush in sight, it seems almost like something has gone wrong. As though something happened here that shouldn’t have. Gone are the rows upon rows of tall oaks and maples, the shade they provided and the quiet commonly associated with New England forests.

Fresh clearcut CT

Clearcut in Connecticut designed to create patch of young forest within older woodlands./Mark LaCasse

In fact, the open shrubland is remarkably loud. It’s ringing with the calls of six types of warblers and the eastern towhee – all species listed as those of greatest conservation need in Connecticut.

“It looks like it was devastated by something. It’s called the ‘ugly effect’ and that’s why some people don’t like doing a clear-cut,” said Mark LaCasse, the property manager for Barbara David’s property in Lyme, where a clear-cut was completed in 2014 and 2015.

There are more than 50 species of greatest conservation need that benefit from clear-cutting and the resulting growth of young forest. Most of these species – including the New England cottontail rabbit and the American woodcock – can only survive in young forest habitat.

Out of 1.8 million acres of forestland in Connecticut, only 5 percent are primarily seedlings and saplings. As a result, not only wildlife like rabbits, but also short-lived trees like aspen, white and gray birch, as well as shade intolerant trees like the oak, are becoming increasingly rare across the state.

(The above is an excerpt from a longer article. To read the full piece, click here.)