Of Sunrise’s 800 acres, all but 50 are forested, making the forest-management aspect of the operation the most significant from an ecological perspective. We are very fortunate to have a working relationship with Redstart Forestry in Corinth, Vermont, who wrote our forest management plan and through whom we are green certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an international body that handles the equivalent of organic certification in the forestry world.
Sunrise is also enrolled in Vermont’s current use program, in which agricultural and forestry lands are taxed based on their current use (producing food and wood) instead of on their so-called “highest and best use” (being bulldozed for houses.) This saves us about $10,000 per year in property taxes and is the only subsidy of any sort that we receive from the government.
From time to time, we have applied for and received grants from the USDA - National Resources Conservation Service to improve our management plans and conduct "non-commercial" work in the woods, primarily to manage invasive species and improve wildlife habitat in key areas on the property.
On an annual basis, we cut about 12 cords of wood per year to heat the house and fire the sugaring arch. We cut diseased and ill-formed live trees for this, leaving the best trees behind for wildlife habitat and future saw timber. We also leave most dead trees behind, since dead trees are an important wildlife habitat that is under-represented in the middle-aged forests around Sunrise.
We occasionally have larger commercial harvests in consultation with our forester and forest-management plan. 2018 is likely to be such a year, weather permitting, with several hundred acres scheduled for thinning.