The main species found in Saint-Michel are spruce, hemlock, cedar, beech, cherry and maple. At the end of the 19 th century, the owners of local sawmills and forestry companies bought lots that they resold after having cut down the best trees. The practice of log driving on the West River made it easier to transport the logs to the sawmill. Deforestation became significant enough to attract this criticism from Father Alexis de Barbezieu in 1897.
'Wentworth, like Harrington and Howard, is a mountainous township, where settlement, far from prospering, seems to be rather in decay. The woods have long been ruined in these three townships by unbridled exploitation; the lands, rocky and poor, which once produced potatoes in abundance, have been depleted [.]; only one possible agricultural operation remains, the dairy industry, on account of the fresh pastures of which there are many at this altitude.”
Fields that were once cultivated were taken over by the forest. Logging evolved into a management practice that preserved this vital resource to which the people of Saint-Michel remain deeply attached.