Mahoosuc Land Trust is grateful for its strong member support. As a member, what connects you to this organization? Is it a strong commitment to land conservation? An affinity to one or more of our properties? A belief that everyone should have access to the outdoors? In this new feature we will regularly profile members’ lifestyles, passions and connections to Mahoosuc Land Trust and the region.
Volunteers are a key component of the long-term viability of Mahoosuc Land Trust, bringing diverse skills, perspectives and dedication. Meet, for example, forester Mike Richard of Albany Township. We couldn’t resist telling his story, especially when we learned that he spent four years in the treetops as a “licensed climbing arborist” pruning, cabling, and bracing trees. His work showcases the connections between natural resources and the people who rely on them for work and enjoyment.
Mike is now District Forester for the Maine Forest Service. His service region covers most of Oxford County with the exception of areas north of Upton and Byron. He replaces Merle Ring, who retired after more than 30 years of service to the region. Mike is excited to build on Merle’s work and to share his passion for forestry with landowners and the public.
At MLT, Mike volunteers on the Stewardship Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the maintenance and monitoring of all of the trust’s properties. Mike’s wealth of hands-on and technical work experience adds a “boots on the ground” perspective to the committee. For example, his work as a forester for logging companies and timber investment firms provides valuable insight into how forested lands are valued as a resource. Also, his experience with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is invaluable as MLT moves maps and data about its properties from paper to a digital format. This is great background to help MLT as we monitor our properties as part of our obligation to steward them “in perpetuity.”We asked Mike about being a volunteer for MLT.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about tree climbing?
I worked as a climbing arborist for four years before making the decision to return to higher education in forestry. I worked along the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and Southern Maine where I climbed trees to prune them, remove them or provide cabling and bracing to preserve them. This involved learning a lot of rope, chainsaw and rigging skills. Some of my favorite memories of that time were doing crane assisted removals with views of the White Mountains from the end of the crane's ball. It was great work that I still sometimes do for friends and family, but I decided I wanted to spend more time in forests with my feet on the ground.
"You’ve lived in Western Maine for the past 6 years. How did you first learn about MLT?"
A couple years back when my daily commute was through Grafton Notch, I would pass by both the Grafton Loop Trailhead and Step Falls areas. I have always been interested in land conservation and was looking for a way to be more involved within the Bethel community. I decided to reach out to MLT about volunteering and have been part of the Stewardship Committee ever since.
"What excites you about being an MLT volunteer?"
I enjoy the opportunity to use my professional skills to help MLT care for its properties. I appreciate that by helping to further MLT's mission, my family can look forward to spending time on properties that will be well managed for years to come.
I also personally benefit from volunteering with MLT. Designing trail maps for Step Falls and Puzzle Mountain is a very satisfying creative outlet. Being part of the monitoring team allows me to better understand how land can change with time. It has also been an ideal way for me to make more connections with people in the community. I also look forward to helping with trail work now that my son is getting older.
What do you do as our District Forester?
I am one of 10 District Foresters providing technical and educational assistance to landowners, loggers, municipalities and other stakeholders. In addition to educational workshops, field demonstrations and media presentations, Field Foresters can provide some one-on-one contact with individual landowners. Meeting with individual land owners and walking their woodlot is a large part of what I do. I answer questions they might have and help to steer them towards goal-based forest management. We also try to encourage them to work with a consulting forester.
When he’s not at work, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and son, hiking, fly fishing and playing the guitar and banjo. He is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire’s Thompson School of Applied Science Forest Technology and received his bachelor’s degree in Forestry from UNH as well.