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The NH Tree Farm Committee is pleased to recognize The Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center as the 2015 Outstanding Community Tree Farmer of the Year. Crotched Mountain rehab, which encompasses over 1,200 acres in the towns of Greenfield, Francestown, and Bennington, exemplifies sound forest management and long term forest stewardship.

Education and health are central tenets of Crotched Mountain rehab, which serves children and adults with disabilities. There are approximately 150 children and 60 adults that are residents of the facility. The leadership of Crotched Mountain has had a strong land ethic for many years. Even though their primary focus is on human health and rehabilitation, caring for their forest land is an important part of their overall philosophy. They feel that it is important to the health and well-being of their staff and patients to have a strong connection to the forest and to nature.

The facility itself is designed to be very environmentally friendly. A new environmentally friendly wastewater system was upgraded approximately four years ago, which treats waste through a series of pools and is relatively chemical free. Treated waste water then goes through a drip irrigation system out into the forest.

The facility has also replaced their old oil burning heating unit to one that burns wood chips. The plant consumes approximately 3,200 tons of green wood chips per year. Converting from oil to wood chips keeps dollars in the local rural economy and supports the thriving forest products industry here in NH. Since switching to this system, Crotched Mountain rehab has decreased CO2 emissions by more than 10,000 tons and saved over $1.7 million compared to heating with oil. The lower emissions have created a healthier environment around the facility for staff and residents, particularly those residents with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Trees are a renewable resource and a much greener alternative to heating such a large facility with fossil fuels.

The forest land that surrounds the facility is being managed sustainably with the multiple-use concept that the Tree Farm program promotes. Robert Todd is a NH licensed consulting Forester and has been working with Crotched Mountain Rehab developing and implementing their various forestry practices for the last 33 years. A Forest Legacy easement is also held on the property which ensures that the forest land will continue to be open space for generations to come.

The property is a working forest, with several timber sales having taken place over the years, the last being in 2010. In addition to sustainable forestry practices, wildlife management is also taken into account when planning harvest activity. Wildlife openings have been created on the property and these openings are maintained by periodic mowing. Over five acres of lowbush blueberry fields have also been reclaimed on the property.

Outdoor recreation is also a big part of the property’s usage. The Gregg trail and the Dutton Brook trail are the longest fully accessible mountainside trails in the United States. The trails offer the public and the residents of the facility an opportunity to exercise in the outdoors as well as observe wildlife and natural forest communities. The Gregg trail leads to an observation platform offering stunning views and is also a prime location to view hawks.

Educational opportunities are also a big part of how the forest is utilized. The teachers are very enthusiastic about getting outdoors and into the forest with the children and activities such as math, history, and science are all related back to their forest land. The children are also involved in outdoor activities, such as collecting sap from sugar maple trees from about 60 taps located on the property. They measure the sugar content of the sap and submit samples to local researchers.

The Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center is a prime example of environmental vision and forward thinking. The management of their forestland is a shining example of sound and sustainable forest stewardship. The Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center has truly made a positive impact in the local community and in the NH Forestry community as a whole and it is an honor to select them as this year’s Outstanding Community Tree Farmer of the Year.

As New Hampshire's Community Tree Farm of the Year, the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted over 125 attendees at the annual NH Tree Farm Field Day at their Tree Farm on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Events for the day included tours of the Tree Farm, educational programs, a pig roast/chicken barbecue, and many other activities that educated and entertained children and adults alike.

Caption: Donald Shumway (President and CEO of Crotched Mountain Rehab Center) accepts the New Hampshire Community Tree Farm of the Year plaque at the annual Farm and Forest Exposition in Manchester, NH.

Photo left to right: Donald Shumway (President and CEO of Crotched Mountain Rehab Center), Robert Todd (Crotched Mountain Rehab Center Consulting Forester), Robert Hardy (N.H. Tree Farm Committee Member), Michael Powers (Chair of the NH Tree Farm Executive Committee), Jeffrey Rose (Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development), and Brad Simpkins (Director of N.H. Division of Forests and Lands).




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