Connecticut Audbon Society
Deer Pond Farm

Deer Pond Farm

Forestry Management at Deer Pond Farm

Deer Pond Farm encompasses 850 acres of forests, meadows, and wetlands straddling the state border of Sherman, Connecticut, and Pawling, New York. About 75 percent of the property is mixed deciduous forest.

Planting bare root trees at Deer Pond Farm

Planting one of 400 trees

In Autumn 2023, a major forestry management project got underway on the NY side of Deer Pond Farm. There are five project areas encompassing six and a half total acres. This project work is in support of birds and other wildlife who require young forest habitats. The goals are to diversify the age class of the forest and the species of trees here. The action items included felling of select trees, addressing competing vegetation and the planting of 400 bare root trees in the spring of 2024. We are also planning for additional hardwood seedling plantings within a deer exclosure fencing area in the spring of 2025.

This project is funded by a matching grant from the state of New York Department of Environmental Conservation Forestry Division Regenerate NY Forestry Grant (Round 2). We attained this grant to remove invasive species and improve structural diversity with an emphasis on native species to improve forest health to benefit birds and other wildlife. We also aim to teach our sanctuary visitors about sustainable forest practices and timber stand improvement, through canopy thinning and early succession habitat creation.

Forestry Stewardship

New York State licensed consulting forester and master woodland manager volunteer at Deer Pond Farm

New York State licensed consulting forester and master woodland manager volunteer at Deer Pond Farm

Deer Pond Farm was a gift to the Connecticut Audubon Society from the late Kathy and Walter Wriston. The Wristons had active forestry management plans and had done a lot of forest improvement over the decades at their home. When the gift of Deer Pond Farm came to Connecticut Audubon Society, we continued with their forestry stewardship plans on both the CT and NY side of the property and continue to expand upon them.

For this current project, we are working closely with a New York State licensed consulting forester. We also hired specialty contractors to manage invasive plants and competing vegetation, fell select trees, plant seedlings and install tree tubes.

Thanks to our knowledgeable and dedicated team of volunteer forest monitors who will maintain these new plantings for the forest of the future!

What kinds of trees were planted?

We planted a diversity of 400 native hardwood bare root trees. These are all one-to-two-year-old seedlings of various sizes that were grown at a forest nursery in Pennsylvania. The trees were planted in a two-acre area and spaced approximately 10 to 15 feet apart in tree tubes.

  • 25 Black Oak – Quercus velutina
  • 50 Chestnut Oak – Quercus montana
  • 100 Red Oak – Quercus rubra
  • 100 White Oak – Quercus alba
  • 50 Pignut Hickory – Carya glabra
  • 50 Shagbark Hickory – Carya ovata
  • 25 Sugar Maple – Acer saccharum
Watering bare root tree in tree tube at Deer Pond Farm

Watering seedling in tree tube

What are tree tubes?

The tree tubes go around the bottom of the tree to help protect the tree from weather and deer browsing and are held in place with a wooden stake and zip ties. The tree tubes function like mini-individual greenhouses, with vents to avoid excessive heat retention. The materials for the tree tubes are made in the USA from recycled milk jugs. 

The tree tubes will be in place for five to ten years, depending on the individual tree’s success rate.

Why oak trees?

The National Wildlife Federation reports that oaks are keystone species, supporting the most caterpillar species of any plant in our area. Here in the Northern Forest ecoregion, there are 445 caterpillar species that require oak as a host plant. Caterpillars are also essential food for birds. To feed one clutch of chickadees, for example, the parents must find 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars.

What is forestry management?

Forestry management in progress at Deer Pond Farm

Forestry management in progress at Deer Pond Farm

Here at Deer Pond Farm, our forestry management project is all in support of birds and other wildlife who require young forest habitats.

Forests are managed for many reasons, like making the forest more resilient to major disturbances (storms, insects, fire etc.), removing carbon dioxide for cleaner air, maintaining permeation rates and reducing erosion for cleaner water, harvesting timber, supplying wood for wood products, and supporting the forest products industry.

The CT DEEP Forestry Division says healthy diverse forests provide these things and, “have the greatest capacity to adapt to changing conditions, and as long as they remain healthy, they will continue to deliver social and ecological services.” 

Volunteer Linda planting bare root trees at Deer Pond Farm

Volunteer Linda planting seedling

We are monitoring the forest for health issues and external factors, like disease, fire, invasive insects and plants, as well as weather and precipitation impacts.

According to CT DEEP, many of the forests in Connecticut are around 100 years old, so the age class of trees is not very diverse. Many bird species and other wildlife rely on young forest habitat for cover, protection from predators, nesting, and food. Our forestry management projects are designed to assist these species, like the Chestnut-Sided Warbler, which is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (GCN).

NY DEC says that, “at the end of the 19th century, forested land had shrunk to less than 25%.”

CT DEEP also says, “Young forest is one of the most-needed habitats today, and it is largely missing from the landscape. In the past, fire, beaver activity, and flooding created patches of young forest, but today, these processes are suppressed to protect human lives and property. Forest management mimics these disturbances and creates young forest habitat. The resulting young forest provides food and shelter for an array of wildlife, including over 50 species that have experienced drastic population declines over the last several decades and would continue to decline in its absence.”

Forest Health information is shared by many states. Forests are an important part of the environment. Evolving science is providing information on the role of forests and climate change.

We hope that you will join us on an upcoming Forestry program and guided hike coming this summer.




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