Holmes Woods ‘overstocked’ with trees according to assessment

Mar 6, 2024

MARION – Holmes Woods, the town-owned forested property south of Holmes Lane and just north of Sippican Elementary School, may actually currently have too many trees.

At the Tuesday, March 5 meeting of the Marion Select Board, Tom Farrell, a forester, said Holmes Woods is “really overstocked.”

“There’s more trees growing on that site than the soil and the growing resources can support,” Farrell said.

In January, a “grant-funded forest stewardship and bird habitat assessment” of the property was completed, according to town administrator Geoffrey Gorman. Farrell was tasked with that assessment.

He said his “worry” with Holmes Woods was that it is overstocked – that is, there are too many trees present in the area.

“As those trees start to keep on growing bigger, less and less growing resources get towards those trees,” Farrell said. “Now they’re weaker. They’re susceptible to certain things, and that’s when you get that large-scale die off that you sort of want to avoid.”

Given the site’s proximity to the harbor, the property sees high winds and extreme weather, according to Farrell. As a result, the “most resilient plan” is to grow “the most vigorous trees” in the forest.

Farrell said he recommended that some of the smaller trees in Holmes Woods be removed, spacing the trees out and allowing growing resources to be dedicated to the more vigorous trees.

That could be accomplished by hand with a chainsaw, according to Farrell.

“When you have an overstocked forest growing for a long time, something is bound to give at some point in time,” he said.