In this issue: Perspectives on Winter in the Forest from nature photographer Tom Blagden and GMF Forest Manager Jody Bronson
Winter Wandering
by Tom Blagden
Several inches of new, wet snow had fallen the day before. We hadn’t gone far along Charcoal Pit Trail when fresh coyote tracks intersected the path and continued ahead of us. Not much farther on, bear tracks entered the trail.

In another half mile, we were suddenly following moose tracks. Great Mountain Forest had become the deep wilderness not only of our imaginations, it was a true winter realm apart.

The forest silence was punctuated at the ponds by the cracking and groaning of the ice.

This fall, a collision of seasons brought early snows to autumn leaves, their luminous colors glowing in a monochromatic world.

The burden of wet, heavy snow tested the structural integrity of the trees. Other times the forest was bejeweled in ice with heavy shards cascading down in the afternoon sun.

Now the leaves have fallen and the true topography revealed, disrobed of foliage, the landscape is naked in its skeletal textures and forms. Glacial erratic boulders of a bygone age loom like dark behemoths in a white domain.

The landscape sleeps but we hold the dreams.
Tom Blagden is an esteemed nature photographer capturing the awe and majesty of GMF. All images in the newsletter are from the body of work that he's donating to Great Mountain Forest. Thank you, Tom.
A Forester's Winter
by Jody Bronson, GMF Forest Manager
The sun rises for fewer hour each day; light is low on the horizon. The scent of wood smoke is common, blowing in on the prevailing wind from the northwest.

While humans are warming up by the stove or fireplace the creatures living in the woods find their comfort in the pine and hemlock forest. These native conifers provide a break from the snowpack of winter. Squirrels have hidden their food caches and deer can move easily with the reduced snow cover. By day, deer will often move to the oak stands with southwestern exposures, where it will be warmer and the snow will settle and melt more quickly. The settled snow allows them to “paw” down to find acorns to maintain calories.

Beavers are snuggled in their lodges. They can swim under the ice and find dinner from the branches they had stored in the late fall. Bears have slowed down. The females are patiently waiting for the cubs to be born. The males become a little slower but are revived with any day that warms up above freezing; the search for food overpowers their desire for dormancy.

Predators do what predators do, they hunt. Constantly on the move, searching for any other warm-blooded animal to make a mistake. Each animal leaves its stories in the snow of the drama that played out between hunter and prey. After each snowfall, another chapter begins.

Winter in the forest is an important part of its cycle. Sustained frigid temperatures of below zero are necessary to kill or slow down the spread of forest pests like Hemlock wooly adelgid and Red pine scale. Variations in winter temperature ranges can mean the thriving or failing of species.

A tree’s winter dormancy is important for its health. Prolonged unseasonably warm temperatures during the winter, which then flash freeze back to normal winter levels can cause tree trunks to crack. These cracks become points of entry for disease and forest pests and can also depreciate potential forest product values. 

New England foresters embrace the winter. Deep frost, heavy snowpack, and cold temperatures are all the ingredients for a healthy forest. 
Forest Notices

  • Keep your dog on a leash and if you pack it in--pack it out!

  • Sign in at kiosks at the East and West Gates.

  • Watch for inclement weather notices on social media.

If you have any questions, email
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