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Sears Meadow Forest is a well-stocked, conserved forest (no building or development allowed) with a towering stand of old growth white pine and eastern hemlock. The property is in the town of Ashfield in the Berkshire foothills about 12 miles west of the Connecticut River Valley and Interstate 91. A town-maintained, gravel road bisects the forest for approximately 2,000, providing ample access for land management activities.
The terrain is gently rolling throughout most of the forest. A brook runs north/south through the property, supporting 20 acres of wetland meadows in the lower areas, while most upland soils are well-drained. The forest supports a white pine/hemlock species mix with associated hardwoods. A February 2015 timber inventory reveals a maturing woodlot with the majority of stems in the 18 to 22 diameter range. There is near-term opportunity for a selection thinning focused on the upper diameter ranges greater than 24 while maintaining optimal stocking on the majority of the forest.
A noteworthy aspect of the forest is the existence of a 3-acre stand of old growth white pine and hemlock. Set aside by the current owner in recognition of its rare qualities, this area has miraculously eluded the axe of farmers, loggers, timber barons and the box trade for nearly two-and-a-half centuries. Research conducted in 2003 recorded diameters ranging in size from 3 to 6 feet and heights ranging from 117 to 132 feet. One of the biggest pines (at that time) was estimated to contain 3,500 board feet of volume. Ring counts estimated that one hemlock could be as old as 250 years, while the white pines ranged between 183 and 217 years of age.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife holds a working forest conservation easement on the property which allows for passive public recreational access, maintenance or enhancement of wildlife habitat and commercial cultivation and harvest of forest products. Building construction is not allowed.
To visit the property via the nearest highway, take Route 9. In the town of Goshen, head north on Route 112 for approximately 2.3 miles where Sears Road will be on the left. In a short distance (250) Sears Road will bisect the property boundary.
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