Southwind Forestry, 2016, Pawlet, Rutland Co.

Southwind Forestry, 2016, Pawlet, Rutland Co.

$20,000 for an excavator for sustainable forest products

In 2015, Gabe Russo, owner of Southwinds Forestry in Pawlet, Vermont, realized he’d paid outside contractors more than $15,000 for excavation work—money that could have gone back to his own bottom line. Excavators play a crucial role in sustainable forestry, as they help create the infrastructure to preserve and protect watersheds and other natural resources. In October 2016, Russo received a $20,000 Working Lands Grant to purchase a used excavator. In the first two months, he saved $3,500, and could feel confident that he’d met—or exceeded—all of the requirements for protecting and maintaining watersheds.

“The excavator is a huge value-add in terms of complying with forestry watershed regulations, but also because of the infrastructure it creates,” Russo notes. “We can service more landowners annually now, and that, in turn, means there’s more product from Southwinds—and Vermont—out on the market. With the investment from the WLEI grant, we’re now employing more truckers, local mills, insurance companies, other foresters, even the local general store.”