Forest resources can be effectively managed for multiple uses and, therefore, contribute to several of the town's conservation goals. Forest lands provide open space; buffers to visual nuisances, wind, and noise; wildlife habitat; recreational opportunity; water supply protection; soil stabilization; and a supply of lumber and other wood products.
Forests, particularly those near old roads and early settlement locations, are locations of potential historic archeological sites such as cellar holes. Isolated cellar holes, or even complete communities of cellar holes, may be found in the southeast corner of Milford in the now abandoned Town of Monson (off Federal Hill Road) or along Mile Slip Road in the southwest corner of Milford. These abandoned communities and isolated cellar holes are of potential archeological and historical significance, and care should be taken in harvesting timber so that these resources are not destroyed.
The County Forester reports that, in general, Milford's forests support a mixed growth of softwood and hardwood with a good distribution in age classes. The forest is currently growing at a rate of just over 2 percent, providing 48,800 board feet of growth per year, or 133 board feet and .07 cords per acre per year. The good soil conditions, combined with good access, produce properties with excellent forest management potential.
The County Forester identifies three primary management objectives to maintain and improve the current use of its forests:
- Maintain the vast majority of the property as open space for forestry, recreational, wildlife and educational purposes
- Allow for the development of additional recreational opportunities located in environmentally appropriate areas, as they are needed
- Conduct environmentally sound, long term multiple-use management practices which over time will upgrade the quality and health of the timber resource, improve access for recreational and educational opportunites, as well as protect and improve wildlife habitat.
Milford can take several specific actions to protect existing forest lands and provide for their public use: a) blaze and paint all Town Forest property lines that are not defined by stone walls or barbed wire fences to facilitate identification of forest properties and guard again timber trespass; b) maintain and improve timber stock by reseeding, thinning, and harvesting as needed; c) adopt steep slopes and erosion and sedimentation ordinances to prevent problems from forest cuttings on steep slopes and in important watershed areas to protect and improve important wildlife habitats; d) create and maintain trails, campgrounds and boat launches and adequate parking to make forests suitable for public recreational use; e) provide trail maps, wildlife information or other materials or programs for educational purposes, and f) acquire full property rights, development rights, or conservation easements on important wooded lands that have not been designated Town Forests.
Milford has five properties which were designated as Town Forests by vote of town meeting as follows:
Hitchiner Town Forest - off Mullen Rd
Elevation 470-750 ft
Tucker Brook - off Savage Rd
Elevation 450-550 ft
Source: Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service, 1988
Designation of land as Town Forest aids conservation efforts by allowing the Conservation Commission to contract for forest management plans. A professional management plan for Milford's forests was completed in December of 1987. The following descriptions and specific management recommendations are taken directly from that report.