Volunteer: Wildlife Orchard Maintenance Day, Benton, NH
White Mountain National Forest
Saturday, September 24, 2022 • 9:00am–3:00pm
Benton, NH 03279
About the Event
The WMNF contains dozens of abandoned orchards from former settlements, often in remote areas, but always in secluded areas without much human activity. Our wildlife biologists have prioritized the maintenance these orchards as a place of sustenance and refuge for forest wildlife. Tree maintenance is optimally conducted every two to four years. This work relies heavily on volunteers like you.
This is the first of two planned White Mountain Orchard Pruning days I have scheduled for this for this fall. We will meet roadside in Benton, NH (which is north of Mt. Moosilauke) and drive in on a maintained gravel road. We will then grab our tools and walk in about 1/4 mile to the orchard as we usually do.
No experience necessary. There will brief talk on safety and instructions on using tools and of course, what and how to prune. The Forest Service provides tools. You are welcome to bring your own if you wish. We don't climb trees and we don't use power tools. Lopers, bow saws and pole saws are the best tools. The good news is that the Forest Service keeps their tools sharp.
This is all about encouraging apple production. Pruning includes removing the brush from under the trees, removing dead branches and non-productive sappers, and, if possible, cutting back surrounding young sapling trees which might encroach on sunshine for the tree. If time permits, we will gather the cuttings into piles that our small woodland creatures can use for shelter during the winter months. It's been a few years since this was last pruned, most of the trees are in not-too-bad condition and we aim to keep it that way.
The orchard is in a wilderness area with very, very little human traffic. Thus, there is a large preponderance of moose in the area. I observed a very, very high incidence of ticks, so you will need to be well-dressed and well-prepared. This will include the need for long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks. Treatment of your clothes with Permethrin is advised (I will bring a bottle that you can spray on your clothes.) We will also do a tick-check afterwards.
The area is a few acres in size, contains about 70 trees. The photo is of a section of the orchard we will be working at.
For your time, will receive hours credit towards an annual WMNF parking pass. Do bring your lunch, plenty of water and your medications. I do not believe there is cell service at this location. I am trained as a Wilderness First Responder (2 weeks training beyond first aid).
Once you sign up, you will be provided with the Volunteer Service Agreement to sign, along with a Job Safety sheet to review. You will also receive the specific parking location/directions to where we will initially meet.
I am a sanctioned Forest Service volunteer leader and will file a report with the Forest Service once we are done. I've led pruning groups for several years now, and it is always an enjoyable, casual day. You don't need to be in great shape. Spend time getting to know other volunteers.
What to bring
1. Do bring your lunch, plenty of water and your medications. 2. The need for long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks. Treatment of your clothes with Permethrin is advised (I will bring a bottle that you can spray on your clothes.) 3. Wear sturdy shoes, the underbrush may be unstable in places.
Those 16 and under must be accompanied by parent or guardian.