NEWPORT – As Vermonters start to check on their sugar woods, the damage from last week’s ice storm is being revealed. The federal Farm Services (FSA) offices have started taking applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for maple sugar makers. Orleans County is listed as one of the areas most affected, with FSA officials encouraging sugar bush owners to call to report damage.
The ECP funds can be used to cost-share debris removal in active sugar woods. FSA is investigating whether special practice funds can be accessed to help with maple tap and tubing replacement for sugarbushes that were already prepared for this year’s tapping. ECP also can help with funds to move debris off of the tubing and open up sugaring access roads or trails.
Vermont County Foresters are also taking calls from owners of other affected woodlots. The foresters urge people to use hardhats and extreme caution when walking around or working in woodlots with ice-laden trees branches. While the ice made those branches heavier, the expected snow this week could add yet an extra layer of risk for sudden breakage.
“Imagine what it would be like to have a baseball bat land on your head from a few feet up. Well, branches are bigger and fall further,” Windsor County Forester Jon Bouton said, quoting woodsman Irwin Post.
While the need for sugarbush work is immediate, when safety conditions allow, owners of other woodlands should also assess their property to report tree damage, and make decisions on amendments to forest management plans for Use Value Appraisal (Current Use).