North Country Calling

Meet the young professionals who call the Northern Forest home


The Northern Forest Center and Northern Woodlands magazine collaborated to produce North Country Calling, a video series profiling young professionals who have chosen the Northern Forest as their home.

"The future of our region hinges on young people like these — individuals who have sought and found a satisfying blend of work, community, fun and friends in rural communities. We’re energized to see the rewarding lives that Sierra, John, Rachel and Helon have created for themselves and hope their stories will inspire other young people to make their homes in the Northern Forest." - Center President Rob Riley.


Here’s a glimpse of the people you’ll meet:

  • Sierra Giraud, a forester in Lancaster, NH, feels a strong connection to the woods through her work and her exploration of the natural world on the weekends.
  • John Moses traded high-priced, West Coast city living for a rewarding job in a sawmill and a home of his own near the mountains of northern New Hampshire.
  • Rachel Freierman has put down roots in the White Mountains, where she works as an outdoor educator and runs a small farm in Bartlett, NH.
  • Helon Hoffer hikes to his work as a trail manager for the US Forest Service. He is passionate about skiing, biking and taking his young children outside to explore.
  • Jesse Wright appreciates the sense of community that has formed around farming and forest stewardship in northern New Hampshire. She has worked at the intersection of land conservation and agriculture, supporting local growers in the Mount Washington Valley.
  • Eli Smith divides his year between creative arts and backcountry skiing. He draws inspiration from nature and expresses it in the pottery he creates at his wheel.


The filmmaker, Asher Brown of Lyme, NH, is a recent graduate of Middlebury College. He spent a day with each of these subjects and has captured their enthusiasm for challenging careers related to the region’s working landscape.

The Northern Forest Center believes in the potential of the region’s communities, people and landscape to support a New Forest Future. Take a look at these short films to see the New Forest Future in action.

Original article posted on 06/11/2020

Surfer on Grain Surfboards board.
Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Forest Management, Innovation, People, Products

FOREST TO OCEAN | Grain Surfboards

Grain Surfboards has been crafting one-of-a-kind wooden surfboards from sustainably managed Maine forests since 2005. With an emphasis on quality and sincere commitment to sustainable practices, each board is made one at a time, by hand, to create a product that has a soul and tells a story.

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Community, Forest Management, Forest Products, Innovation

New Technology for Vermont’s Oldest Industry

Start-Up Whiteout Solutions Piloting Forest Inventory and Mapping Technology in Northeast Kingdom

Vermont’s first sawmill opened in 1738, nearly a century before the first chainsaw was invented, not to mention cars or telephones. And it was at least 150 years before that sawmill had electric lighting. Technological solutions have been slow in coming to the forest products industry, but a Northeast Kingdom start-up is hoping to change that.

Whiteout Solutions, based out of the DO NORTH Coworking Space in Lyndonville, Vermont, has developed a new forest mapping technology using LIDAR sensors attached to drones. According to co-founder Matt Clark, their system hits a sweet spot between manual surveying and LIDAR sensing on airplanes, providing highly detailed, digital information in real-time.

“Good data informs good decision-making,” said Clark, who ultimately envisions a statewide digital forest database. “Our technology captures detailed data about a forest, including tree species, diameter, understory characteristics, wetland locations, and emerging forest health issues—information that can be used for multiple scenarios.”

Clark and co-founder Christine Heinrich believe that data can be used to inform important decisions about Vermont’s most prized natural resource: its forested landscape. A real-time digital inventory could help inform everything from the timing of a timber harvest to quantifying carbon sequestration. The company is also working on a pilot program in Burke to inventory roadside ash trees, as town planners prepare for the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer.

“Advancements in forest inventory, specifically the measurement of trees and characterization of forest stocking, has not made any great strides since the early 1950s,” said Calendonia/Essex county forester Matt Langlais, “and still requires individual trees to be measured by a forester on site. While I don’t see this technology replacing the work of foresters, I do see it empowering us with better information and ultimately better decision making capabilities.”

Age-Old Problems, New Technologies

With backgrounds in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and software development, Clark and his business partner, Christine Heinrich, founded Whiteout Solutions with the goal of “solving age-old problems with new technologies.” The pair worked closely with 911 in the early 2000s as landlines were replaced with cell phones. “People still assumed that a 911 operator would know their location when they called,” said Heinrich, “so we had to build a solution for that transition.”

Christine Heinrich and Matt Clark, Whiteout Solutions
Christine Heinrich and Matt Clark founded Whiteout Solutions at their office in the DO NORTH Coworking Space in Lyndonville, VT. Photo by Erica Houskeeper.

Using what they had learned about mapping technology, Heinrich and Clark began talking with loggers and foresters in the Northeast Kingdom where they live and quickly realized that a similar solution could have applicability for the forest industry.

“Building an accurate forest model is very labor intensive,” said Clark. “Foresters are essentially gathering information visually and recording data manually on a sample set of maybe 10 to 30 percent of a parcel and then making assumptions about the remaining 70 percent. The only other technology previously available was a sensor attached to an airplane, which provides broad swaths of information from high altitude, and that tends to be cost-prohibitive for most landowners.”

Clark and Heinrich began building a new model from the ground up. They developed a remote sensing technology that could be used on slower, low-flying drones to capture detailed data on parcels anywhere from 50 to 5,000 acres. Then they set about creating a software that would instantly translate those data points into a 3D model of the parcel.

Christine Heinrich and Matt Clark, Whiteout Solutions
Christine Heinrich and Matt Clark, co-founders of Whiteout Solutions in Lyndonville, developed a new forest mapping technology using LIDAR sensors attached to drones. Photo by Erica Houskeeper.

“We can survey a 200-acre parcel in 30 minutes and capture 99% of the information available,” said Clark, “and we can do that for $5 to $15 per acre depending on the final reporting needed.” The kinds of data points they are able to collect include individual tree diameter and species, watershed runoff, slope and grade of the earth, whether the understory is made up of soft bedding, road, rock or wetland, and any evidence of disease.

“Once we have the data, we can run multiple scenarios to answer a wide variety of questions,” said Clark. “Is there a harvestable stand? What is the best location for a road in order to have the least impact on the environment? What is the real value of the land?”

A Tool for Foresters, Not a Replacement.

“It sounds cool. I want to use it,” said Mike Snyder, commissioner of Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation. “In the tradition of technology allowing people to do their jobs better and faster, I’m all for it. However, there is no substitute for having a knowledgeable forester in the woods integrating all the variables. We don’t just identify vegetation as bird habitat, we stop and listen for the birds too.”

Clark and Heinrich are quick to agree. “The idea of using LIDAR sensors to assist with forest inventory is not new and was never intended to replace the work of professional foresters. We are simply making that tool more approachable, applicable and affordable.”

They point out that, currently, forest planning relies on manually recorded data submitted in static reports. Armed with LIDAR sensors attached to drones, and real-time 3D modeling, foresters are able to capture more data faster and use the reporting to support the ongoing, big picture goal of maintaining healthy and productive forests.

“Better data, better dialogue, better decisions,” said Snyder. “It’s one of our mantras at the department and I can definitely see applications for this kind of technology, as long as we remember that forests are diverse and dynamic, and reporting will always be more complete with human eyes on the ground.”

Case Study: Burke Emerald Ash Borer Inventory

Last fall, Langlais gave a presentation to the Town of Burke Conservation Commission on preparing for the Emerald Ash Borer. Municipalities are responsible for ensuring public safety within the public rights of way, and many Vermont roadways are lined with ash trees likely to become hazardous as disease sets in. The first step in planning and budgeting, Langlais informed the commissioners, is a roadside ash inventory. Traditionally, that kind of survey would be done by volunteers recording data tree by tree.

Clark, who was in the audience, offered to use Burke as a pilot project to conduct the inventory using their new technology, which was quickly accepted.

“Volunteer data collection is a tall order when you consider that Vermont has almost 16,000 miles of roads,” said Langlais. “A drone fitted with LIDAR, GPS and thermal imaging that can quickly determine which trees are in the town’s right of way, which are ash trees, and the diameters of those trees for budgeting removals offers a very efficient and effective means to cover that 16,000 miles, so I think Whiteout is definitely on to something that can have a big impact.”

Presently, less than 30 of Vermont’s 255 towns have done roadside ash tree inventories.

“There is technology to be applied in forests and some interesting problems to be solved,” said Clark. “Since we built this technology from scratch, we can custom create data collection to answer very specific questions.”

For more information about Whiteout Solutions, please visit or call (800) 388-0935.

See original post and learn more about Vermont Forest Industry Network.

Original article by Christine McGowan, Forest Products Program Director at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.


Surfer on Grain Surfboards board.
Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Forest Management, Innovation, People, Products

FOREST TO OCEAN | Grain Surfboards

Grain Surfboards has been crafting one-of-a-kind wooden surfboards from sustainably managed Maine forests since 2005. With an emphasis on quality and sincere commitment to sustainable practices, each board is made one at a time, by hand, to create a product that has a soul and tells a story.

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Top 5 Reasons to be #ForestProud


We have a lot to be proud of in this industry. Here are the top five reasons I’m #ForestProud:

Hampton Lumber employee Jacob Vail is #forestproud. Safety first!

#1 – Timber keeps the Pacific Northwest green - in more ways than one!  Roughly one-third of all forestland in Oregon and Washington is privately owned. The decision to keep these forests as forests decade after decade is thanks in no small part to the global market for sustainable wood products. Here in Oregon, roughly 92% of the land that was forested in the mid-19th century is still forested today despite significant population growth and increased demand for residential and agricultural development. Keeping these forests as forests is good for wildlife, water quality, and overall quality of life here in the Pacific Northwest.  The forest sector also just happens to be one of the oldest renewable industries in the region, helping society meet a variety of needs from housing and energy to paper and packaging in a sustainable way.

#2 – Timber helps combat climate change.  Our industry helps fight climate change in two main ways. First, we plant 3-4 trees for each one we harvest and as those trees grow, they draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. When those trees are harvested decades later and made into lumber, much of that carbon is stored and kept from re-entering the atmosphere. Secondly, new engineered wood products, including cross-laminated timber (CLT), allow us to safely build high-rise buildings from wood, instead of iron, steel and concrete, products that account for some of the largest sources of industrial CO2 emissions in the U.S. Substituting renewable wood products for these traditional building materials means less harmful CO2 entering the atmosphere in the first place.

#3 – We grow local, make local, and build local. At a time when it seems we’re getting further and further removed from the production systems that support our lifestyles, timber is keeping it local. While much of our food travels hundreds even thousands of miles to fill grocery shelves and so much domestic manufacturing is being sent overseas, our forests are still here, supporting local wood manufacturing jobs that create the products that stock home stores and lumber yards throughout the region.  Walk into just about any home in the Pacific Northwest and you can be assured local forests framed it.

#4 – We’ve come a long way.  As modern descendants of one of the oldest industries in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve learned a lot and grown with the times and with the science and technology. Many timber and wood products companies, like Hampton, have been in business for generations. It is through continual learning, improvement, and adaptation that we have found resilience.

#5 – Timber helped make the Pacific Northwest what it is today and continues to influence its economy and its culture. You see it in the Portland Timbers soccer club, the lumberjack on your beer coaster, and at any one of the rural logging festivals that take place each summer. Timber is part of what makes the Pacific Northwest unique.

What makes you #ForestProud?  

Reconnecting People and Forests
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Every year, more than 1 billion trees are planted in the U.S. But who grows the baby trees?

All these millions of seedlings have to come from somewhere. Take a look behind the scenes - meet the people who grow and care for tiny baby trees at Hill Nurseries.

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Cup to Cup: Closing the Loop

The "Cup to Cup: Closing the Loop" partnership project is an innovative collaboration between Sustana and three other supply chain partners, working together to demonstrate that Starbucks cups could be recycled and turned into new cups.

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Who is part of the forest community?

HINT: It's more people than you think, and probably includes you!

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Reimagine. Rethink. Reconnect.

"Every generation has a big question that they have to answer. I think, fundamentally, our generation has to answer 'what is our carbon future going to look like?'"

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Take care of the forest, and it will take care of you.

As research is being conducted and becoming available, findings reinforce what much of the urban forestry community already knows — that trees have a positive impact on human health.

This research is increasing our collective understanding of how our health can be connected to the trees in our communities.

Click on over to the Southern Group of State Foresters' website for an interactive graphic - click on each of the icons to explore how urban forests can improve our physical and mental health and promote healing.

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A video showcasing the process of growing the trees at Hill Nurseries.

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