Cowls Land Company has been sustainably managing forests in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley since 1741. For over 50 years Cowls has been a member of the American Tree Farm System. and Cowls foresters adhere to the strict standards of the world's oldest sustainable forestry and certification program. Cowls timberland is inspected every five years to ensure proper forest management which includes the conservation of soil, water, and wildlife habitat. Multiple use, wildlife conservation, recreation, and watershed protection are important factors in managing the woods for timber production. We are proud to be the 2005 winner of the National Hardwood Lumber Association's Forest Stewardship Award. Cowls’ timberland has produced high quality and plentiful logs for over two centuries, a testament to sustainable forestry practices.
In 2006 we were asked by the State of Massachusetts’ Department of Fish and Wildlife to help create woodcock habitat by clearing areas in our forests for early successional habitat. We are now proud partners in the Northeast Regional Woodcock Initiative and are learning more about improving wildlife habitat on our timberland.
Cowls forest land is on a fifteen year thinning/selective harvesting rotational cycle. All of Cowls' timberland falls under Massachusetts Chapter 61, which is the 10-year management plan for conserving forest land. Through periodic harvesting, Cowls foresters sell the timber, whether high quality veneer logs or low grade pulpwood, to regional mills. Logging on Cowls land is handled entirely by independent contractor crews. Cowls is committed to holding onto its timberland for the long term and annually expands its land base by buying more timberland and conserving it under Chapter 61.
Cowls currently has timberland in 28 towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties that is open and accessible for public recreation. Our rule is that recreationists are welcome to hike, bike, snowmobile, ride ATVs and horses, hunt, fish, and short-term camp on Cowls land, as long as these recreationists respect others' rights to peacefully enjoy the same. Instances of long term camping (squatting), vandalism, uncontained campfires, trash and vehicle disposal, and threats of federal takings of hiking trails have threatened some parcels’ future public use. It is our hope that open public enjoyment of our private land can continue long into the future.
Valuable partnerships exist with snowmobile and 4WD associations and hiking groups such as the Appalachian Mountain Club, in which member volunteers improve and maintain the skidder roads and bridges they use as trails. Cowls Tree Farms will remain open to recreationists and others, as long as the land is not abused, and as long as users respect others' rights to enjoy the forest as they so choose. Please respect our "tread lightly" and "carry in, carry out" policies!
Paul C. Jones receives National Hardwood Lumber Association's Forest Stewardship Award for Cowls’ two centuries of sustainable forestry practices.
Brushy Mountain, Leverett, MA
Lawrence Swamp, Amherst, MA
Trail sign on Brushy Mountain, Leverett, MA