The snow was two feet deep, but the late March sun had the sap running as Downeast Lakes Land Trust volunteers transported visitors through the Maine woods to Kossuth for a tour of Chandler’s Sugar Shack. A small, family owned and operated business that draws from a background in forestry and engineering, Chandler’s uses buckets and miles of plastic tubing, and taps nearly 3,000 maple trees. “This started as a backyard hobby after I retired,” Bob Chandler explained to his guests. “But then,” he said with a chuckle, “The kids got involved.” Children Bobby, Bart, and Jaime now spend most of early spring in the woods collecting sap. This involves installing tubing systems, hanging buckets, tapping trees, and checking for leaks. Bob and his wife Marge are in charge in the sugar house. They spend long hours feeding wood into the evaporator and watching steam rise out of the stacks. An industry unique to the forests of the Northeast U.S. and Canada, maple sugaring requires warm days with cold nights in spring. The temperature change contributes to the flow of sap. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, over 1.5 million trees were tapped in Maine, producing nearly half a million gallons of maple syrup last year.
Maple sugaring is one of the many economic benefits offered by healthy forests. Sharing knowledge about and appreciation for these benefits supports the Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s mission of contributing to the long-term economic and environmental well-being of the Downeast Lakes Region through the conservation and exemplary management of its forests and waters.The Downeast Lakes Land Trust regularly hosts speakers, sponsors workshops, and leads outdoor adventures that highlight the natural and cultural history of the Maine woods and waters. Visit their website to discover what is happening next.