Eve-Cowles Tree Farm owners nurture wildlife habitat

  • Arthur Eve Richie Davis—Submitted photos

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/8/2017 11:33:01 PM

DEERFIELD — Retired University of Massachusetts professor Arthur Eve never expected, when he and his wife Barbara bought 160 acres of forest in Deerfield and Conway over 40 years ago, that they’d be named Massachusetts Tree Farmers of the Year in 2015, Northeast Tree Farmers of the Year last year and then included in a new American Forest Foundation report on the need to protect wildlife habitat.

But all of that happened.

The report finds that woodlands in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast are “out of balance” because of historical land use and not having enough wildlife habitat, but it also points to opportunities private landowners have to correct the problem — including the foundation’s new partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund some of its proposed solutions.

The 360-acre Eve-Cowles Tree Farm, which the Amherst resident owns with his son-in-law, Robert Cowles, is an example of landowners who actively maintain their wooded property to enhance diversity of timber as well as wildlife, says the American Forest Foundation.

Emily Boss, who directs Franklin Land Trust’s Massachusetts Woodlands Institute, of which Eve is a past president, agrees about the three generations of Eves and Cowleses who continue to care for the forest, which stretches from Deerfield into Conway .

“They’re a wonderful family that’s really dedicated to doing high quality stewardship of their land, and a wonderful model for other folks who are interested in doing the same thing,” Boss said.

Eve has made use of the kind of stewardship programs offered by the institute together with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. Among these is a “Foresters for the Birds” program that helps identify the kinds of habitat that could be created to attract different species of birds and other wildlife.

The state also has a forest stewardship program to help private forest owners develop a stewardship forest management plan, which Boss said, “helps people have a long-term vision, like the Eves have had over many decades for managing their land.”

Julie Averill, at 28, is the eldest of five Eve grandchildren. She grew up visiting the land nearly every weekend for skiing, sledding, camping, trailblazing and improvements like making trail signs or removing oriental bittersweet and other invasive species.

“Part of the reason that we have the tree farm, and part of our sustainability plan, through management of timber stands, is to try to create different bird habitats,” like a meadow area and an “upper swamp loop: timber stand,” Averill said.

“Usually, when people think of logging, they think of clear cutting,” she said. “But depending on different bird species and what they need, some trees may be left on the ground so there’s different-height terrain, with lots of stumps and slash to benefit birds that need that.”

Money from selling off any timber, Eve said, is returned to pay maintenance costs for the property, along with state stewardship grants.

The property is open for community events like a coming Massachusetts Audubon Society bird walk, which has not yet been scheduled.


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