The Forest Returns

Fencepost and Barbed Wire

 

By the turn of the 20th century much of the land here had been logged. It was a time of tremendous changes to the landscape and the ecology as well. Forests of pine were the first to be cut but later other species went, too. Land that had been cleared of trees was then sold to farmers who pulled or blasted stumps and then plowed the ground for crops and pasture. Barbed wire fences were strung everywhere separating property and closing in dairy cows. White cedar was the preferred tree for fence posts as it did not decay. It was abundant in the local swamps and soon many trees were cut. Larger cedar trees were made into shingles but the thinner ones became posts.

The poor soils that had supported generations of pines and spruce did not lend themselves to sustained agriculture or dairy. Many attempts to farm were finally given up especially if a better living could be had in the paper mills. When grazing and haying stopped the forest was free to come back. The less productive pastures hacked from the forest disappeared under a new canopy of trees. Today, the only evidence that there was a pasture where this forest stands are scattered cedar posts and rusted strands of barbed wire.

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