Forestry in Vermont

Clayplain forest  2000 H.Karlson

Photo from:
2000 Heather Karlson

Words to Know

clear cutting


            When the early settlers came to the state, they found a thick growth of forest.  The tools they used to cut trees were crude, but with chopping and burning the land was slowly cleared.  One of the first products was potash which was made from the burned trees.  Potash was made by pouring water through the ashes and collecting the liquid or lye.  The lye was boiled down in large pots.  The resulting deposit was called potash.  It was used for fertilizer and for making soap.


            A lumber industry soon developed in Vermont.  Water-powered sawmills cut the trees into lumber for local use.  Later in the 1800's, Vermont began to export lumber.  New canals and railroads made it easier to ship lumber out of state.  A large amount of lumber was shipped to Albany and Montreal along Lake Champlain and its connecting canals.


            About 100 years ago as much as three-quarters of the land in the state had been cleared for farming and lumber.  Today the situation has been reversed.  Almost 80% of our land is once again forested because of changes that have taken place in lumbering and farming.  Much less of the land is used for agriculture and abandoned fields have returned to forest.


            Today the lumber industry takes much better care of the land.  In the 1800's huge areas were cut and opened to soil erosion.  This massive clear cutting has stopped.  Now the cutting is done with the future in mind.  Areas are often planted with seedlings to insure the forest will be renewed.  The trees that are cut in Vermont today are used for such things as lumber, furniture, firewood, plywood, paper products, and toys.  Woodchips and firewood are used in Vermont to generate power or to heat homes.


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