This picture story was the final project for my photojournalism class: a profile of a forester, Kate Marquis. Marquis is a licensed forester at W.D. Cowls, Inc, the largest private landowner in Massachusetts, where she manages over 100 woodlots in 30 towns by selecting unhealthy trees or trees in decline to sell to sawmills for firewood, pulp and construction timber. “People think that cutting trees is bad but they don’t think about where their furniture comes from,” said Marquis. By cutting down trees in decline, resources like space and sunlight become available to trees that could grow for a much longer time.

The revenue enables the landowners to keep their land, and therefore the forests. Cowls’ forests are open to the public for recreation like hiking, cross-country skiing and hunting, although many do not realize that they are trekking on private land. And sometimes, people leave their trash in the woods. “Once we had a car on fire left in a stream,” said Marquis, citing an incident that happened before she joined Cowls.

*Update (2014): Marquis is no longer a forester at Cowls and is currently with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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W.D. Cowls, Inc is a 9th-generation family business that harvests trees from forests continuously in a sustainable way. Visit their website here.

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