Forests in Milford
Forest resources can be effectively managed for multiple uses and, therefore, contribute to several of the town's conservation goals. Forest lands provide open space; buffers to visual nuisances, wind, and noise; wildlife habitat; recreational opportunity; water supply protection; soil stabilization; and a supply of lumber and other wood products.
Forests, particularly those near old roads and early settlement locations, are locations of potential historic archeological sites such as cellar holes. Isolated cellar holes, or even complete communities of cellar holes, may be found in the southeast corner of Milford in the now abandoned Town of Monson (off Federal Hill Road) or along Mile Slip Road in the southwest corner of Milford. These abandoned communities and isolated cellar holes are of potential archeological and historical significance, and care should be taken in harvesting timber so that these resources are not destroyed.
The County Forester reports that, in general, Milford's forests support a mixed growth of softwood and hardwood with a good distribution in age classes. The forest is currently growing at a rate of just over 2 percent, providing 48,800 board feet of growth per year, or 133 board feet and .07 cords per acre per year. The good soil conditions, combined with good access, produce properties with excellent forest management potential.
The County Forester identifies three primary management objectives to maintain and improve the current use of its forests:
1. Maintain the vast majority of the property as open space for forestry, recreational, wildlife and educational purposes
2. Allow for the development of additional recreational opportunities located in environmentally appropriate areas, as they are needed
3. Conduct environmentally sound, long term multiple-use management practices which over time will upgrade the quality and health of the timber resource, improve access for recreational and educational opportunites, as well as protect and improve wildlife habitat.
Milford can take several specific actions to protect existing forest lands and provide for their public use: a) blaze and paint all Town Forest property lines that are not defined by stone walls or barbed wire fences to facilitate identification of forest properties and guard again timber trespass; b) maintain and improve timber stock by reseeding, thinning, and harvesting as needed; c) adopt steep slopes and erosion and sedimentation ordinances to prevent problems from forest cuttings on steep slopes and in important watershed areas to protect and improve important wildlife habitats; d) create and maintain trails, campgrounds and boat launches and adequate parking to make forests suitable for public recreational use; e) provide trail maps, wildlife information or other materials or programs for educational purposes, and f) acquire full property rights, development rights, or conservation easements on important wooded lands that have not been designated Town Forests.
Milford has five properties which were designated as Town Forests by vote of town meeting as follows:
|Hitchiner Town Forest||off Mullen Rd||193 acres||470-750 ft|
|Tucker Brook||off Savage Rd||258 acres||450-550 ft.|
|Mayflower Hill||off Shady La||35 acres||256-440 ft|
|Rotch Wildlife Preserve||off Ruonala Rd||40 acres|
|Mile Slip||off Mile Slip Rd||452 acres|
Source: Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service, 1988
Designation of land as Town Forest aids conservation efforts by allowing the Conservation Commission to contract for forest management plans. A professional management plan for Milford's forests was completed in December of 1987. The following descriptions and specific management recommendations are taken directly from that report.
Hitchiner Town Forest
The Hitchiner Town Forest provides prime habitat for white tailed deer, wild turkey, red and gray squirrels, ruffed grouse, weasels, mink, fisher cats, snowshoe rabbit, red fox and porcupine. The variety of forest types and age classes provides a multitude of habitat and "edge", or interface, between two types of ecosystems.
The open fields, saplings, acorn-producing oak and cover provide for an abundance of wildlife. The proposed management practices and timber sales will promote healthy oak for acorn production. New openings will produce high quality saplings for deer browse and continued regeneration of the forest. Proper maintenance of the fields will also promote quality grazing and enhance the aesthetics of the property. Periodic mowing (at least once every three years) is advisable to prevent the forest from reclaiming these open areas. Consideration should be given to planting forest tree species such as red and white pine and wildlife plants such as apple trees if mowing is not desired or if site conversion is desired.
The Hitchiner Town Forest provides a variety of uses for recreation and education. The 16 acres of open fields are easily accessible by car, and if properly mowed and maintained, they would be suitable for a fairground or campsite for Boy Scouts or other such organizations. Keeping the existing roads and trails opened and maintained and constructing new trails to the summit of Burns Hill would provide an excellent view. Many of these trails could also be used for cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling during the winter months.
Tucker Brook Town Forest
This area provides important habitat for wildlife. The tracts contain woodlands, swamps, ponds, brook ecosystems and open fields. The variety of forest types and age classes provides a multitude of habitats and "edge", or interface, between two types of ecosystems. The following species are likely to frequent this property: white tailed deer, beaver, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, otter, weasel, mink, fisher cat, snowshoe rabbit, red fox, porcupine, red and gray squirrel, several species of local hawk, duck and other migratory water fowl, crow, king fisher, great blue heron, woodpecker and a variety of local songbirds.
The Tucker Brook Town Forest, with its close proximity to town and easy access, provides excellent opportunities to view wildlife and their habitats. Hiking trails could be cleared around the swamps and streams. They would cross beaver dams and wind along the streams where one would see an occasional small waterfall and stone work of an old mill. These trails can be accessed from Savage Road, Mason Road and via a spur through the Burns lot to Tucker Brook Road off Whitten Road. Furthermore, this lot provides excellent opportunities for viewing and studying wetland habitat.
Harvesting in areas immediately adjacent to the wetland should be modified to leave an adequate buffer to maintain the aesthetics and to minimize disturbance to the wetland habitat. Prescribed harvesting will improve the habitat for wildlife by removing less valuable species and favoring red oak that provide acorns, den and nesting trees and deer wintering areas (deer yards). Areas that are opened as a result of the cutting will increase available browse for spring and summer feeding requirements and will help establish red oak regeneration. Proper harvesting will increase available browse for food requirements. Shelter, cover and nesting sites will also be more abundant following recommended harvests.
Mayflower Hill Town Forest
This town forest is composed of three separate parcels totaling about 35 acres. The forest is located just northwest of the center of town. The primary use is hiking. The property is crisscrossed with hiking trails with most leading to the top of Mayflower Hill which has a spectacular view looking west up the Souhegan River Valley.
The property is growing a mixture of tree species, predominated by red oak, black oak and white pine. Abundant wildlife can be found on this property because the hardwood species produce an abundance of food and the pine provide cover.
Much of the land has relatively shallow soil to bedrock which is very well drained. Because of this, tree growth is slow and quality is generally poor. In areas of the property where tree growth is much better, the terrain is quite steep, limiting the value of timber products. Mayflower Hill Town Forest is a valuable property for the town to preserve as open space for hiking and viewing small animal species and the general aesthetic value of the area.
Mile Slip Town Forest
The Mile Slip Town Forest is as close to wilderness as you can get in Milford. This area has many natural resource features in addition to being a great place to recreate. Wildlife, including bears, bobcat and moose, use this part of town. It connects to nearly 7,000 acres of undeveloped land in Brookline, Mason, Wilton and Milford. On March 8, 2005 the 75% of citizens voting in Milford agreed to purchase this 452 acre parcel. The closing on the property was August 24th of 2005.
Rotch Town Forest
It was the Rotch family woodlot for many years before being donated to the Conservation Commission in 2002. This 40 acre wildlife preserve, a vibrant habitat for many species, is most noteworthy for its large beaver pond. This pond supports a variety of wildlife, both resident and migratory.