Connecticut has a vast supply of wood and still records the existence of at least 22 operational sawmills (State of Connecticut, 2007). The area produces many different types of wood. The hardwoods produced in Connecticut include red oak, white oak, maple, ash, and birch. The softwoods include red pine, white pine, and hemlock. From the State of Connecticut (2007), “sawmills have played an important part in Connecticut history since the mid 1600’s. Early communities were constructed around working sawmills and their presence assured a steady flow of forest products for use in Connecticut’s homes, farms and businesses” (p. 4).
In addition to the economic benefits, the forests of Connecticut provide important environmental roles, such as the prevention of soil erosion and mitigation of air pollution. “A healthy forest promotes clean air, clean water, and a better-regulated climate” (Flounders, 2006, p. 13). It would be disastrous if Connecticut lost this valuable natural resource, right? Wrong.
According to the Flounders (2006), before the European settlers arrived in Connecticut, the land was a vast forest. The advent and proliferation of farming across the State deforested 75% of the land by 1820. Much of the environmental fall-out caused some of the farms to falter. Industry and the Civil War had even more negative repercussions for the area’s farms.
As an increasing number of farms became abandoned, nature took over (Flounders, 2006). Flounders (2006) describes how ”without human interference, the vegetation of abandoned fields underwent a series of changes” (p. 35) to create Connecticut’s “Second Forest” (p. 35). Ultimately, the original deforestation eventually lead to a forestry boom in the late 1800’s. Currently, Connecticut’s forests “[cover] 1.9 million acres, or 60% of the State” (p. 37).
When dealing with renewable natural resources, the economy is the primary impetus of change. When plentiful, the focus is to utilize the resource. As the resource becomes less available, it becomes more difficult to earn a living producing the resource, and there is more pressure to change occupations. This is purely supply and demand.
In conclusion, the inhabitants of the State of Connecticut relied heavily on the forests before the area was colonized by the European settlers. This colonization required such a use of wood that it resulted in the devastation of all but 25% of the State’s forests. As the wood supply decreased and demand for workers in other professions increased, the land was abandoned and left to a natural course. Forests grew once again, and the land is now well distributed with forests. Though it is not the center of the economy for Connecticut, there remains about two dozen sawmills that continue to produce wood for a variety of purposes. It is important to both consider the ramifications of depleting our natural resources and remember that it might be wise to leave some things to nature.
Flounders, H. T. (2006). Connecticut Statewide forest resource plan. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/forestry/forest_resource_plan/fplanall.pdf
State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry. (2007, June). Connecticut primary processor directory. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/dep/ lib/dep/forestry/forest_practitioner_certification/primaryprocessors.pdf