E.Wildlife Habitat – with Peter Picone, DEEP Wildlife Biologist 12
F.Vegetative Condition 13
A.Landscape Context – Forestry – adjacent land uses 17
B.Specific Acquisition Desires 17
C.Public Involvement 17
D.Adaptive Management 18
E.10 Year Goals 18
F. Work Plans 19
Nassahegon State Forest consists of 1,148 acres of forest in the town of Burlington, in Hartford County, Connecticut. This includes the main contiguous 1,093-acre block and the separate 55-acre “Chippens Hill Block”, also known as Compartment 8 in this plan.
The majority of Nassahegon lies south of Route 4, east of Route 69, west of Jerome Avenue, and north of the Whigville section of Burlington. The small Compartment 8 parcel known as the Chippens Hill Block occurs between East Chippens Hill and West Chippens Hill Roads. That parcel abuts a wildlife management area, but is isolated from the rest of the state forest. It occurs near the southwest corner of Burlington, while the main block is roughly in the geographic center of Burlington.
Other DEEP property is adjacent to both blocks of Nassahegon. The state fish hatchery abuts the main block to the north, on the south side of State Route 4. This parcel is 141 acres and its property was informally considered part of the state forest from about the 1970s through the 1990s. The hatchery claims all of DEEP’s road frontage on Route 4 and most frontage on Belden Road, and the state forest occurs south of the Fisheries property. Also, Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area, 777 acres, occurs on the west side of Route 69, and abuts the Chippens Hill Block of Nassahegon. This plan only covers the two parcels of state forest.
Nassahegon is a relatively small state forest of suburban character, in terms of nearby development pressure, frequency of encroachments, dumping, vandalism and impacts from illegal uses. At the same time, most of the sandy soils prevalent to the forest promote a medium and low average site quality. Therefore, the challenge is to produce a healthy and diverse forest in spite of the higher adverse human impacts than that found in more rural forests, and in spite of reduced growth potential.
Some primary objectives that highlight the challenges of managing this forest include use of both commercial and pre-commercial cutting and prescribed fire to preserve and expand the pitch pine component at Nassahegon. Pitch pine represents a declining species and cover type in the state that requires active management and disturbance for maintenance. Additionally, young forest and early successional habitat is currently lacking and will be expanded in consultation with the DEEP Wildlife Division. Another goal is to reduce the number of illegal trails and other unauthorized impacts that pose threats to forest regeneration, soil and water quality, and state listed species occurring on the property.
Reason for acquisition and funding sources: The Forest was established in 1926 to provide watershed protection for the fish hatchery, at the request of John Titcomb, who was Superintendent of the State Board of Fisheries and Game. Until 1942, this Forest was known as the “Burlington Block” of Nepaug State Forest (which lies in New Hartford). It was re-named Nassahegon State Forest (NSF; the Forest) in 1942.
Development of resource prior to and after acquisition: There was never a forest fire lookout tower in NSF, but a tower erected on nearby Johnny Cake Mountain in 1929 overlooked the forest for decades. There was also never a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in NSF, but considerable work on the roads and in the Forest was done by CCC workers at Camp White from Peoples State Forest.
In 1934, a Transient Camp was built and established on the premises. This camp had accommodations for 250 men, who received their board and 90 cents per week in return for 24 hours of work per week. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) took over the camp in 1936. Other agencies used the camp in the next few years, including the National Youth Administration in 1938, the War Food Administration in 1944, and the Connecticut Agricultural Extension Service in 1945 and 1946. The camp portion of Nassahegon was Federal property until turned over to the state in 1944. The camp was used as a state forest headquarters until reorganization established the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 1971. Today, none of the camp buildings remain other than foundations and a chimney of the old headquarters, as well as an old Stone Jail that is nearly intact along Stone Road.
The size of the forest and presence of town roads throughout the area negated the need for an extensive forest road system. Some forest products roads were developed during the 1930s, and forest roads were created and expanded again in the 1970s in response to a strong firewood demand. Firewood permitting and sales at the Forest were extensive enough to create new stands, change stand boundaries, and impact composition and age classes.
Plantations were established in a number of stands, primarily white pine and red pine, including stands 2-2, 5-4, 7-1, 3-2, and a number of stands in Compartment 1. Red pine salvage in the 1980s harvested most of the red pine, including the entire stand 1-5.
Changes in the last 10 years: There have been no commercial harvests at Nassahegon in the past 10 years. The most recent operation was completed in 2003. Management has been limited to fuelwood lottery permits and boundary maintenance. No comprehensive management plan for Nassahegon has been written and approved since 1986. The forest has been re-compartmentalized and stands completely renumbered and typed for this plan.
Rotations and cutting cycles used: The most recent management plan for NSF prior to this plan prescribed property-wide uneven-aged management. This did not provide enough opportunity to expand early successional habitat and to successfully regenerate the strong oak forest component. Both even-aged and uneven-aged silviculture will be practiced at Nassahegon in the future. A 100-year rotation will be recognized for even-aged stands. The present stands may be carried past the rotation age to avoid regenerating the entire forest within a short period of time. Once stands have been regenerated, the 100-year rotation will be followed. Intermediate harvests will thin the stands before the end of rotation. 453 acres (22 stands) will be managed even-aged.
Uneven-aged stands total 389 acres (20 stands). These stands will be put on a cutting cycle of 20 years.