Hogback Mountain Conservation Association
Route 9, Marlboro, Vermont
Preserving a Mountain Treasure
Rejuvenation – How It Works
Photos and text by Diana Todd
Rejuvenation aptly describes the process we’re undertaking at Hogback. Here’s what we’re talking about:
Most hardwood trees don’t die when they are cut down. Maple, oak, birch, ash, cherry: they all respond to cutting by sending up stump sprouts, young shoots that grow out of the edges of the stump. These young shoots are terrific food sources for many mammals.
Think about a rabbit, who needs tender young vegetation to survive. What can it eat in winter? Delicate young twigs and buds are ideal - but they are of no use to a rabbit when they are at the top of a 20-foot sapling in an area of late-stage ESH growth.
A stump sprouting
Notice the stem ends bitten off
Those late-stage ESH 20-foot tall saplings are also big enough to cast dense shade, inhibiting the growth of low-growing, sun-loving plants like blueberries. Cutting the trees gives the blueberries a chance to grab some sunlight and put on a growth spurt.
Over the years, three or four sprouts per stump will survive the browsing and the competition from the other sprouts to grow into a new generation of trees. When they get so tall that they themselves are now shading out the undergrowth, it's time to start the rejuvenation all over again.
Even big mammals like deer and moose can't eat tree tops. But cut down those trees and stump sprouts pop up - up to dozens per stump - providing easy feeding for a wide range of animals. The dense clusters of small stems also provide good shelter for young fledgling birds, who scratch about a their bases for insects.
Sprouts growing into small trees