As many Vermonters know, prior to European settlement Vermont was almost completely forested. In the 1800s about 80 percent of the state was clearcut, largely to create sheep pasture. Many of these pre-settlement forests were what we would now call “old growth”: forests that had developed without extensive disturbance for centuries.
Among foresters, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a common source of consternation. It is often considered a low-value, low-quality “weed,” outcompeting other tree species and taking over the forest’s understory. Some foresters interested in maintaining diversity, increasing forest health and growing more commercial tree species have adopted special practices just to avoid regenerating beech, including treating cut beech stumps with herbicide.