At Vermont Plank Flooring, we keep one eye on the future by creating floors meant to last generations. That’s important to us: durable products reduce the need for replacement, and thereby reduces the quantity of material that ends up in the landfill.
We keep another eye on the future by sourcing our lumber from people who are similarly keeping the long view in mind. One of those is Jack Bell, whose company, the aptly named Long View Forest, provides forest management and woodland services for clients with woodlots of varying sizes. The company has come a long way since Jack started it with a partner in 1999. Initially, Long View primarily operated as a logging outfit, but in 2010, it purchased the business of a consulting forester and hired him to head up efforts focused on forest management and timber stand improvement.
Forest Management for Wood Products
Long View’s foresters work with individuals, families, and organizations to develop and implement long-term management plans to care for and improve their forestland, while also harvesting for wood products.
“Forests are healthy all by themselves,” says Jack. “The forests don’t need us; we need the forests. All the work we do is about human needs and human goals to produce things humans use. Management is about satisfying those needs in a good way, providing for more quality trees versus lesser quality trees, both in the near term and in the long term.”
It was during a recent woodlot management assessment that Jack came across a rare stand of European larch, most likely planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp during its heyday in the 1930s or 1940s.
“The Corp put in a lot of plantations in New England on abandoned farm fields,” Jack explains. “Mostly it was white pine, red pine, Norway spruce, and Scotts pine. But occasionally they planted European larch, which we sometimes come across. It’s a beautiful, rot resistant wood, highly valued in Europe, often used for bridge planking, exterior siding, and flooring.”
Following guidelines established by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), as it always does, Long View sustainably harvested a portion of the stand and provided the best quality specimens to Vermont Plank Flooring to mill a batch of wide plank boards, some of which Long View utilized in their new offices in Hartland, Vermont, with the rest awaiting another client at Vermont Plank’s headquarters in Brattleboro.
Long View’s Long View
For Jack, the situation met their seven generation goals beautifully: trees planted 80 years ago in an abandoned farm field, harvested sustainably, milled locally, installed in Long View’s new home with the prospect of literally providing the firm footing to support their long-term efforts.
“Our big picture goal is to build our business so it can last a long time,” Jack explains. “To successfully manage forests for the long term, we need two things: long-term owners of those forests, and long-term continuous management of that land, even if the ownership changes hands. All too often, the land isn’t managed with consistency and continuity. So, we are working to grow our business to a certain scale—a scale that will enable us to provide the steady workforce that will foster those forests long into the future.”
That is Long View’s long view.