Lessons in Environmental Education and Forest Management

What is a Model Forest?
A Model Forest is a defined eco-geographic unit comprised of a relatively large area in which forestry is the main land use, and serves to promote effective forest management and stewardship practices that are compatible with water quality protection. Supported through a voluntary partnership among individuals and organizations with a stake in the management of the forest resources, a Model Forest benefits from the combined expertise and resources to identify, develop, apply and monitor the effects of innovative, locally-specific approaches to sustainable forest management.

The goal of the Clearpool Model Forest is to maintain a sustainable forest management program dedicated to promoting responsible forest stewardship in the lower Hudson Valley region. We pursue this goal by demonstrating sustainable approaches and sharing knowledge with students, teachers, landowners, forestry professionals, and conservation organizations. We build awareness and encourage action through hands-on outdoor education programs, seminars and field-based experiences at Clearpool and in the community.

Current Forest Studies & Best Management Practices (BMP)

Model Forest map Nov2014.jpgThe Clearpool Model Forest Management Plan includes sections of the forest that offer the greatest diversity for research and education. Data collection through short- and long-term studies provide valuable information about current plant and wildlife species, forest health, and topographical concerns. Improvement projects employ Best Management Practices (BMPs) to provide full-scale demonstations for landowners to learn from and replicate on their own property.

(Click image to download map of recent projects)

Continuous Forest Inventory
Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) plots have been permanently established throughout the forest, enabling long-term research to gather comprehensive data about many aspects of the forest. Tracking of overall forest health, individual tree health, growth and mortality, and understory vegetation will help determine needs and priorities for optimal forest management.

Wetlands Inventory
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a wetlands inventory that included mapping, photographing, identifying flora, as well as soil types and hydrological features of Clearpool Model Forest. The study identified 20 wetlands, including the 9.3 acre pond, spring seep, a wet meadow, vernal pools, forested and shrub swamps, and a kettlehole bog, a unique and fairly rare peatland habitat. Interesting plant species uncovered include sphagnum moss and round leaf sundew.

Sugar Bush Management
In addition to an active annual sugaring operation, data has been collected from an area of sugar maples in order to manage the forest for a healthy sugar bush. Thought to be in decline, this section of trees is being studied by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to track changes and identify actions to preserve this valuable section of forest.

Experimental Invasive Species Control
Black swallowwort, a non-native invasive vine, was found along a hiking trail in the southeast corner of the property. An ongoing experiment to control the swallowwort without the use of herbicide features a combination of weed whacking, hand pulling, tarping, and reseeding.

BMP: Demonstration Road & Trails
Recent improvements to a main road and trails within the Model Forest provide an educational model for stabilizing a gravel road and trails to properly control water run-off and minimize erosion. Open-top culverts, water bars, broad-based dips, and rubber belt deflectors have been built into a section of roadway, along a trail on the South side of the property, and a trail that runs on the North side.

BMP: Sustainable Stream Crossings
Appropriate stream crossings for vehicles, or foot travel, are key to protecting water quality, keeping pollutants like soil, from entering the fresh water. Two bridge installations provide examples of a durable — and portable — solution for landowners who need access to multiple areas of their property. The bridges are designed to hold large trucks and equipment, and support heavy loads.

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