Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Community, Forest Management, Innovation, People

Adapting forests for a changing climate in the Adirondacks

An Interview with Forester Mike Federice

By Tony Mazza, Natural Resources Policy Specialist, SAF.

In late September 2022, I had the pleasure of visiting Huntington Forest at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). The higher peaks in the area were already displaying picturesque fall foliage, setting the scene for a pleasant weekend. I was invited by Dr. Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, who is the Environmental Philosophy Program Coordinator at ESF and SAF Adirondack’s Chapter Chair. During my weekend at Huntington, I had the immense pleasure of spending an afternoon with forester Mike Federice, who manages ESF’s forest properties in the Adirondacks. He is also SAF Adirondack’s Chapter Chair Elect. Federice gave me a generous tour of Huntington, which included a black bear sighting, local trivia, splendid vistas, and most impressively, a walk through the forest’s demonstration and research sites.

The back-to-back demonstration sites brought to life textbook silviculture treatments, some serving as important research projects attempting to address challenges forests face in northern latitudes. I was inspired by Federice’s knowledge, insight, and optimism around the future of the forest sector, and so I invited him to share more about his work with ESF.

Tony Mazza (TM): Hi Mike. To begin, would you introduce yourself?

Mike Federice (MF): I’m Mike Federice, a Forester with SUNY ESF Forest Properties. I manage ESF’s Adirondack Forest Properties in northern New York. Prior to working with ESF, I worked in industrial forestry and procurement in upstate New York and New England. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, which is what led me to become a forester.

TM: Can you tell us a bit more about ESF’s properties in the Adirondacks and the type of work carried out there?

MF: SUNY ESF maintains 20,000 acres of forest land in the Adirondacks, in addition to 4,000 acres in central New York. There are four different properties spread across the Adirondacks, each with their own defining characteristics and specific uses which make them unique. The primary purpose of the Forest Properties is to promote opportunities for teaching, research, and demonstration.

The properties are regularly used as an outdoor classroom, which is an indispensable learning tool for hands-on teaching. The properties also provide a setting for long- and short-term research across a multitude of topics like forestry, ecology, wildlife, biogeochemistry, and beyond. There are various examples of forest management techniques as a means of demonstration on some of the properties as well. Public recreation is currently permitted in some capacity on portions of three of the four Adirondack properties.

 TM: During our tour of the Huntington Forest, you discussed how your research plots are addressing some of the leading threats to forests in the Adirondacks. Can you discuss some of the challenges you’re addressing and what your research suggests so far?

MF: The primary challenge we are facing at this time is associated with the effects of beech bark disease. Beech saplings are prolific throughout the understory across the majority of our hardwood stands. These saplings have little—if any—opportunity to develop beyond small diameter pulpwood. Since the saplings are already established in the understory, they impede regeneration of desirable species (i.e., sugar maple, yellow birch, red oak, white pine, hemlock, red spruce). In our more recent timber harvesting, we found it necessary to remove the beech saplings from the understory during harvesting in order to open the understory for desirable regeneration. This has been accomplished during logging using a feller buncher and a prescribed threshold for cutting beech saplings (i.e., 1” DBH or > 5 ft. tall). Timber harvest areas employed with this level of beech sapling removal are still in the early stages of regeneration and are being closely monitored as regeneration begins to appear. We have also seen that heavier cutting intensities help initiate a competitive advantage for regeneration of desirable species over beech.

Another challenge we are facing is climate change. Shorter and milder winters pose major concerns for winter logging. This is especially important here in the Adirondacks where many areas can only be accessed during frozen conditions. The cost of constructing a road only for winter use is considerably cheaper than a summer access road; this is particularly important in areas with low timber value. A long-term concern associated with climate change is the transition of tree species ranges. The Adaptive Capacity Through Silviculture (ACTS) study at Huntington Forest is intended to evaluate strategies for managing forest stands for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The ACTS study also includes a “Transition” area. Within the Transition blocks, tree species more characteristic of warmer sites will be planted and monitored for success. In many cases these species' current range does not include Huntington Forest, however, given temperature projection models, it is expected their ranges will shift to higher latitudes and elevations.


Other challenges the Adirondack properties are facing include white pine decline, forest tent caterpillar, and spongy moth. There have been recent management activities in areas affected by all three of the above concerns. Hemlock wooly adelgid, emerald ash borer, and beech leaf disease are also knocking on our door with anticipated management challenges that may facilitate additional research and demonstration projects for us. Another concern of mine is having an adequate contractor base of loggers and truckers in the future. The general trend in recent years has been a decrease in the number of crews available for logging, which may pose a challenge for us to successfully complete forest management projects.


TM: Given the research you’re doing, it’s clear you are thinking about what the future holds for the forest sector. What opportunities do you think are in store for forestry and forest management?

MF: I think there are more opportunities than ever for forestry and forest management. As a society, we are beginning to focus on sustainability and renewable resources. To me, this should mean a growing demand for forest-based products over traditional plastics, fossil fuels, steel, and concrete. I’m hopeful that forestry is recognized by our youth as an avenue for sustainability to help increase recruitment into the field.

TM: ESF is first and foremost a school and a research institution—and a strong one at that. On the topic of the future, can you talk to us about the work you do with students?

 MF: On the Adirondack properties, we provide opportunities for field trips and tours of research projects and demonstration areas for ESF classes, as well as groups from other institutions. We are also able to facilitate research areas for students looking for specific sites on the properties with relevant data; we maintain extensive records going back many years that are often used by researchers. Last but certainly not least, Forest Properties often employs a summer crew to help with field work. This is a phenomenal opportunity for students and recent college graduates to gain boots-on-the-ground experience through a variety of forest and natural resources management projects.

In a time when our forests face such grand challenges and opportunities, it’s critical to have forestry professionals who are thinking creatively and strategically about the future of the sector. Central to that task is fostering a new generation of forestry professionals who are passionate and adaptive. We are grateful to Mike Federice and Dr. Marianne Patinelli-Dubay for their forward-thinking service to SAF and the profession. 

Original article for the Forestry Source, January 2023 edition



Careers, Community, Forest Management, Forest Products, Innovation, People

North Country is Calling

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 this region hinges on young people like these.

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Careers, Community, Forest Management, Forest Products, Innovation, People

Seeing the Forest for the Tweets

Meet forest professionals who call social media home
Lacey Rose, professional forester + movie star
Alex Ashby #1 Tree Friend

Social media, including online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and more, has rapidly transformed how we interact. While forestry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘social media’, our field is not exempt from this phenomenon, as many forestry professionals are now turning to social media as a tool for information, communication, and connection.

(Pro tip: join the conversation with #forestproud on a platform of your choice!)

Meet seven professionals who use social media in a forestry context. These professionals are several of many foresters, educators, and scientists across public and private sectors who are talking trees. Together they explore how social media is used by forestry professionals, the engagement and benefits that come with this content creation, and advice for anyone interested in joining the digital forestry conversation.

This article and all supporting interviews were done by Jenna Zukswert - a PhD Candidate in sustainable resources management at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry - originally for the SAF June Forestry Source! 

Posting Professionals

A few of the many types of content that the interviewees have produced on social media include short videos on seed tree versus shelterwood harvests, how to identify invasive species, different types of plant parasites, photos of buds from different tree species, wildlife and fish in Maine, and the contents of a forester’s vest have all been welcome. Written posts explaining silvicultural prescriptions and outcomes, comparing two Gleditsia species’ bark and occurrence, and sharing methodology from a forest climate change study at Hubbard Brook have also been well received. The primary reason these professionals use social media is to share information and experiences.

While Emily Dolhansky (@emilydolhansky), a forester for the Bureau of Land Management, had a Twitter account in graduate school that she would occasionally use to share content from SAF meetings, she started gaining traction in social media sharing information about wildfires in 2020. As a GIS technician for the US Forest Service at the time, Dolhansky discovered that many people were getting updates about the California wildfires directly from Twitter because it was easy to use and understand. She then began to share more about her job as a forester; she finds it important to share success stories and “small victories.” This sentiment is echoed by Lacey Rose (@foresterlacey), a registered professional forester in Ontario, who joined Twitter in part because she was “seeing so many good things out there in the forest” and wondering “why aren’t more people sharing these good news stories?”

Dr. Tom Kimmerer (@tomkimmerer), a forest scientist, educator, and writer, uses social media to share information about tree physiology and natural history in Kentucky. In addition to sharing information from his own work, he uses Twitter to talk to and learn from people in forestry and other related disciplines, such as physiology, biochemistry, and forest genetics. This exchange of information has been rewarding. “I get about two or three ideas a week from Twitter that are going to wind up in the next book”, he says, “so I think it’s very valuable.”

Also an educator, Dr. Neil Thompson (@forestryprof) shares short, viral videos on TikTok primarily about silviculture and dendrochronology, leveraging his skills and passion as an educator. Encouraged by his students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent to join TikTok, Thompson will often gain hundreds of followers from posting a new video on content he considers to be fairly basic, such as that knots and branches are connected, but is novel and interesting to many. “We have to remember that as much as we gain knowledge… it is brand new to so many people, and they can be fascinated by things that we take for granted as essential,” he says.

Chelsi Abbott (@hemlock__holmes), scientific advisor for Davey Tree and adjunct professor at College of DuPage in Illinois, was also encouraged to join TikTok from her students and, like Thompson, was surprised at how receptive others were to her niche interests related to tree health. Abbott was initially hesitant to join TikTok. “I was like, ‘Who would want to know about mushrooms? Nobody!’, but it turns out, it’s a lot of people!”

TikTok is also used by Alex Ashby (@number1treefriend), a forester for the Albany Water Department in New York. Ashby started making instructional videos and filming day-to-day depictions of their forester job during the pandemic. Their videos include before and after shots of silvicultural prescriptions with explanations, water management advice for logging roads, and plant identification. As Ashby says of their involvement in social media, “I just really like talking about trees–constantly and always–so it works out great.”

Nearly all interviewees mentioned using their social media accounts to depict a “Day in the Life.” They use the social media channels to show others, particularly young people, what it is like to be a forester or scientist. While Dr. Lindsey Rustad (@LindseyRustad), Research Ecologist for the USDA Forest Service has a professional Twitter account she uses to share “news on people, places, things, and events”, she has a personal Instagram account that depicts a day in the life of her job. On Rustad’s Instagram account, she refrains from posting news and employs more storytelling. “In both accounts”, reflects Rustad, “I also try to always share something… that may be of interest to the audience, like a fun fact, a reflection, an overall message, or conversation.”

From 60 Minutes to 60 Seconds

Social media is known for its restrictions on content length, and nearly all interviewees talked about this. Lacey Rose found Twitter’s character limit to be a challenge where she had also to refrain from using technical jargon and “speak in ‘real people’ language about forestry.” Tom Kimmerer indicated that communicating without jargon is “a skill we have to develop over time,” adding “I think it’s critically important…we’re using social media as a way of broadening the audience for forestry-related subjects, and the only way of doing this is to speak in relatively simple terms.”

Abbott and Thompson, who engage with their students in both traditional lectures and now on social media, find the short time limit of TikTok to be a rewarding challenge – as Thompson puts it, trying to “summarize a 60-minute lecture into just 60 seconds.” In Abbott’s words, “If making a two-minute video on something you could talk about for hours isn’t good practice on how to really be concise with information, I don’t know what is.” Both claim that this challenge has made them better educators, helping them consolidate their thoughts and condense their content to convey what is most important.

Despite the need to be concise, Dolhansky encourages forestry professionals to refrain from oversimplifying, or using just the “nice talking points”, and instead dive into complex issues. “You can be an ambassador and still talk about things with nuance and explain complexities, without just [saying] ‘Everything’s great!’ or ‘Everything’s awful!’… I think being able to speak openly and engage in meaningful ways… people really connect with that.”

Online Watercooler

Interviewees described a range of communities with which they engage online. One community is their colleagues; as Rose put it, “preaching to the choir.” Kimmerer started using Twitter in part to connect with participants from his outreach programs. Rustad also enjoys learning more about what her colleagues are up to. “I think of [social media] a little bit is that it’s the watercooler or coffee room: you can choose not to talk to people there, but you might miss some things that are happening on a professional and also personal [level].”

Rose and Dolhansky also spoke to the value of connecting with others in forestry from other states or locations. Rose appreciates that she can “get to know other people in forestry that I would never have the opportunity to meet in real life” and Dolhansky likes learning about activities and projects that “people several states over from me are doing.” Kimmerer extends this, reflecting on benefits of international connections. “Forestry always has been a very international discipline, even though we work in our own local forests and social media really enhances that ability to speak with people from different backgrounds.” Twitter can help connect researchers and practitioners within forestry, as it is popular among academics; Dolhansky has conversations on Twitter with academics about their research and what is happening on the ground.

They also engage with people outside of forestry. Other followers of Ashby, Abbott, and Thompson include students, people generally interested in nature, and as Abbott puts it, “Fun Fact-ers” such as the comment Ashby received, “’I didn’t know that porcupines could climb.”

On the other end of the spectrum, interviewees mentioned engaging with those who think poorly of forestry. Many of our interviewees tend to not engage with negative comments. Dolhansky tends to get a lot of interaction from people who are critical of forestry, particularly the timber industry, and challenge or disagree with what she is saying. “A lot of times I can have constructive conversations with these people,” but she notes that there are others whose minds she cannot change, “so I’ve just kind of learned where to expend my energy and where not to.”

A Tool for Good

Many benefits of using social media came to light. Perhaps the most basic: social media provides a way to educate and communicate with others, which was important to all of the participants.

“The more people we have educating, the more people we have engaging, the better. What’s the worst if more people know about trees and all the fun stuff about forests?” asks Abbott. Exchange of information with students and colleagues, between researchers and foresters, across disciplines, and with those new to forestry are positive benefits of social media use. Rustad cites social media as “another way to communicate about what I do so I can spread the word about publications, about events, about what we’re doing in the world of forest science”, and she benefits from “learning so much about what other people are doing out there.” This connection can sometimes result in unanticipated opportunities offline, such as invitations to speak at events, awareness of professional programs, and in Ashby’s case, an informal Zoom book club with woodworkers.

Another benefit of social media use is representation. Ashby aims “to get people who might not otherwise be interested in forestry or realize that forest ecology or field work or any of this is an option in life… to see that this is something you can do, and this is something that you can start really small doing” and they note comments from queer forestry students who feel less alone after seeing their content. Awareness of forestry as a career option was also important for Thompson. “The benefit, I hope, is [that] people realize that forestry is a profession that’s available to them…. I’m not saying you must do this… I would like people to make a considered, informed decision… but I think what the whole forestry network on TikTok is doing is showing pretty well the range of things that you can do.”

As a member of initiatives to increase representation of women in science, Rustad says she tries to “post images of, not always myself, but other women, women in forestry, women in the outdoors… so that girls, particularly middle-school girls, can see that women can be out there, they can be scientists, they can be ‘fisher people,’ they can be engaging in the outdoors.” Rose considers social media to be “the best outreach we can do to recruit for future foresters,” enthusing “imagine if every forester was putting out one message every three months, even. Inevitably, some people are going to see that and be like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was a career option.’” She adds, “If other people can see people that look like them doing these jobs, then they might consider it for themselves.”

Representation is important not only for recruitment, but for public perception of forestry. Dolhansky says, “We need more people with boots on the ground and field perspectives to add to this chorus of people promoting good forestry practices and being an ambassador of the field.” In her experience, “it’s a lot more appealing for someone to interact with another person than a brand or company…actual people seem to get more engagement.” Rose echoes this sentiment, stating “I would like to try to change the public’s perception about forestry whenever I have the opportunity to do that… I think it’s critical for us to tell the real story… There will always be some folks out that there still don’t think it’s OK to cut down trees, but the benefit is we can make sure they know all the steps that have to happen before a tree can be harvested.” She adds, “When people can put a friendly face to someone that is caring for their forest, I think it has the potential to change perceptions.”

“It’s not just a little extracurricular activity that doesn’t mean something,” says Dolhansky. “I think it can be really used as a tool for good.”

Advice for Aspiring Social Media Users

Choose the Platform

Many social media platforms exist, and they differ in types of content, character length, and user demographics. Younger generations may be more active on TikTok, while older may be more active on Twitter and Facebook. Consider the content you want to produce and consume, and the communities with which you would like to engage. “I do think deciding what platform you want to be on and focusing on that is an important choice that you have to make as a professional. Where can you have the most impact; not necessarily where you have the largest audience?” advises Kimmerer.

Stay in Your Lane

Several interviewees spoke of considering what subjects you want to post on and recommend sticking to what you know. Thompson prefers to focus on “something I’ve done, something that’s in progress, something that I can see, touch, feel, show,” and directs anyone who asks about topics he doesn’t cover to others who specialize in that area, which further builds community. “I’m sure that there are pressures for creating a certain type of content or swaying with what other people might expect, but where I come at it is if I think it’s interesting and I think it’s fun, that’s probably what I’m going to post about, and hopefully people enjoy it,” says Abbott. “And if they don’t, they don’t; there are plenty of other areas in the world that they can get their information from.”

Act Like You’re in Public, Because You Are

While social media accounts can be private, and this can be ideal for more personal accounts, the accounts discussed in this article are public. “Assume the highest-ranking person in your organization will watch your videos,” cautions Thompson. “Always, always, always think before you post. You can go back and delete a post, but once someone has seen it, you can never make it unseen,” warns Rustad.

Start Small

“It doesn’t have to be overwhelming,” says Rustad. “Choose a platform, start following a few people you admire, think about what you want to share, and engage when you have the time. It doesn’t have to be all the time.” In Ashby’s words, “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just because you are starting a new account doesn’t mean there isn’t help.” They mention several groups and movements such as Women in Wood and Forest Proud that you can join to connect with others. “Just dip a toe in and see what other people are doing” recommends Rose, “…and then you will just probably start thinking of ideas when you’re doing your job.”

Share Comfortably

You get to decide what and how much, or little, you would like to share – whatever feels comfortable for you. “Social media isn’t always about gaining a following,” Abbott reminds us. Many of the interviewees recommend being aware and intentional about how personal you would like to be. “It’s important to figure out for yourself where that happy medium is before you start making [posting] things,” notes Ashby. Recommending moderation, they describe a happy medium “between being yourself and being outgoing with that and honest about it….and also not telling people exactly where you live and how to find you.”

Be Accessible

Thompson recommends closed captioning for videos. For TikTok, this is now an automatic feature; in the past, it was a manual addition. For image-based social media, you may explore the addition of “alt text” to your captions to describe your photographs and images.

Have Fun!

Above all, our interviewees recommend staying positive and having fun with social media. “Enjoy it and have fun with it,” advises Rustad. “It is meant as another way to engage and communicate with our colleagues.”

Original article written by Jenna Zukswert - a PhD Candidate in sustainable resources management at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry - for the SAF June Forestry Source


Reimagining Our Cities
Mass Timber

Forest Champion Spotlight | Susan Jones

Susan Jones designed some of the first Mass Timber buildings in the U.S. - including her own home. Today, Susan and her team continue to pave the way for Mass Timber buildings in North America by showing the world that there is no reason a building can't also be a climate change solution.

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FourTee Acres

Connecting the Generations

Tyrone Williams squinted into the sun as he looked toward the newly planted tract of loblolly pines on his 62-acre property in Enfield, NC. The air was fragrant with the trees’ scent. He thought about his ancestors and how they surely stood in this very same spot. He hoped that someday his children would inherit the land and stand here too, feeling that long thread of ownership connecting the generations.

Forest Champion Spotlight | Tyrone Williams

Getting to this point – healthy stands of native pine, abundant wildlife, and a plan for the future – didn’t happen overnight. It took finding someone Tyrone could trust and who had the forestry knowledge and resources he needed.

Oral history traces the Williams family land back to the late 1800s, but paper documentation of ownership dates only to the 1930s. Landownership was historically a struggle for African-Americans. Discrimination and exploitation were common, and many people lost their land when loved ones died without proper wills.

Fourtee Acres

Tyrone, his wife Edna, and their three sons – Trevelyn, Tremaine, and Tyron – were fortunate enough to acquire this portion of the family farm. In 1994, they named it Fourtee Acres – a play on their names and the “40 acres and a mule” promised to African-Americans after the end of slavery. While the Williams family called Fourtee Acres home for many years, it wasn’t until he retired that Tyrone turned his full attention to the land.

He knew he wanted to restore the woodlands, use the property somehow as an income source, and ensure he could pass the land on to his sons. But like a lot of family landowners, Tyrone’s forestry knowledge was limited. He quickly recognized a need for expert guidance in what to do, when and how to do it, and how to afford all the work. Still, he was also wary about who to trust – many of those decades-old issues for African-American landowners are still present today, and he did not want to risk making irreversible mistakes.

Then, in 2013, Tyrone and Edna attended the Minority Landowner Farmers and Landowners Conference in South Carolina. They were shocked to meet so many others who had also inherited or bought land – some with forestry experience, but many with none.

4tee aerial

During this event they met Alton Perry, from the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Project, a program that helps African-American landowners care for their forestland and pass it on to the next generation. Perry was helping people like the Williams’ navigate the complexities of forest management.

Tyrone and Edna, though interested, wanted time to think through all they had learned at the conference. Perry continued to follow up over the next several months, taking the time to listen to the Williams’ needs and vision and answer their questions. Perry knew he needed to reassure the Williams family and gain their trust for them to take the next step. It took nearly a year for Tyrone and Edna to join the program.

Tyrone&Edna Stewardship

Finally ready to get started, the couple began meeting regularly with Perry, along with their county forester and other forestry professionals, to plan their restoration activities. They also contacted the Natural Resources Conservation Service to arrange financial help, and they met with a lawyer to set up a trust that will eventually transfer the land to their children. It was exactly the broad range of support the Williams’ needed to get started in forest stewardship.

In time, Fourtee Acres began to change. First, they harvested 37 acres of mature loblolly pines. The following year, 14 acres were reforested, with the remaining 23 acres taking another two years – along with extensive spraying, shearing and bedding. The family also planted low-lying shrubs and berry bushes and began honing their green thumbs by gardening and crop farming.

Bobwhite quail soon returned to the property, thanks to those newly planted loblollies. Then more birds, rabbits, and deer started to call Fourtee Acres home as well.

Along with their healthy woodland, Tyrone’s passion and interest for managing the land was growing. The more he learned about caring for his land, the more he wanted to expand his education. Perry suggested he and Edna join the American Tree Farm System and take their stewardship to the next level: meeting high standards of sustainability, getting to know a wider and more diverse network of landowners, and continuing to advance their forestry knowledge.

At his first Tree Farm event, Tyrone was energized by the passion in the room. He quickly began making connections and hearing new ideas to help wildlife and better utilize the timber on his property.

All the support Tyrone and Edna received prompted them to pay it forward and begin to help others. Today, they host other minority landowners on their property, speak at events, and lead seminars on how to keep land in the family. They often tell others, “It doesn’t matter what your kids or grandkids do with the land. What’s important is that you set up the framework, so that they can.”

This piece was originally published as part of the Spring 2019 edition of AFF's quarterly magazine, Woodland Magazine.
Tyrone Williams
Natural Climate Solutions
Forest Benefits, Forest Management

Forest Champion Spotlight | Tyrone Williams

As a 3rd generation North Carolina landowner, Tyrone Williams opens up about the importance of keeping forests as forests and passing on his responsibility to future generations.

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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.


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Click on over to the Southern Group of State Foresters' Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives website for an interactive experience - click on each of the icons to explore how urban forests can improve our physical and mental health and promote healing. This research is increasing our collective understanding of how our health can be connected to the trees in our communities.

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

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#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.

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