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Local forest is first in state recognized by Old-Growth Forest Network

Updated: Jan 30

A woodland in the Farmington Valley is the first Connecticut forest to be recognized as an old-growth forest.

Simsbury’s Belden Forest was inducted on Friday into the national Old-Growth Forest Network. Belden is the first forest in the state to be included in this distinctive network.


Forests inducted into the network have exceptional ecological integrity and are among the oldest known native forests in the country. The age of an old-growth forest can vary, depending on the definition used, but trees that are at least 150 years old are one marker.


To commemorate the induction, a reception and film screening of “The Lost Forests of New England” was held Thursday at the Simsbury Public Library. The film features footage of rare old-growth forests in New England and tells the story of what our forests once were before European settlement, what changes have taken place, and what our remnant old-growth stands look like today.


Filmmaker Ray Asselin introduced the film, and a panel discussion followed with Dr. Joan Maloof (founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network) and Robert T. Leverett (co-founder, Native Tree Society and co-author of “The Sierra Club Guide to Eastern Old-Growth Forests”).

The age of an old-growth forest can vary, depending on the definition used, but trees that are at least 150 years old are one marker.

The Old-Growth Forest Network designation ceremony took place on Friday at Boy Scout Hall in Simsbury. During the induction, the Old-Growth Forest Network presented Dr. Susan Masino with a Forest Advocate award. A neuroscientist and professor of applied science at Trinity College, Masino is a member of the Simsbury Open Space Committee.


A walk through Belden Forest followed the presentation of the designation.


Belden Forest is a 42-acre, town-owned property that consists of a loop of flat, secluded and easy-to-walk trails dominated by 100-foot-tall white pines. It is forever protected from commercial logging and is open to the public.


Belden Forest is accessed from the east side of Beldenwood Road, approximately 500 feet east of the intersection with Firetown Road. The forest can also be accessed off Hopmeadow Street, through the parking lot between Boy Scout Hall and the Simsbury Public Library.


For more info on old-growth forests, visit www.oldgrowthforest.net


Source — Town of Simsbury

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