Just north of you in Hartford NY, near the Vermont border.
I have a lot of the same problems you do. Just bought five acres of what use to be farmland, 50 years ago. It was hillside pasture and I am not exaggerating, it is 45 degree slope. Some small lumbering harvesting were had been done over the years. I have piles of oak branches all over the place. These are old piles do not seems to be decomposing anytime soon. There are trees blown down from Hurricane Irene, some trees just standing dead, bug and/or fungus infested. A pile not far behind my house looked like someone was trying to construct a baracade. The previous owner said they used it for a deer blind. I decided to make it into one huge compost pile/ huegle culture/ mushroom /salamander habitat. My daughter calls it my bridge to nowhere. I have dumped piles of leaves on it, kitchen scrapes, goat manure, lime, and gypsum. I threw some mushroom spawn in it last year, going to do it again this year. The red newts and salamanders love it. If I can clear out some of the trees surrounding it, I am going to plant on it, squash, I think. I have nothing but stones on my property, so I am making several large fire ring to make burning pits. Help get rid of some of the tick infestation , the bugs attacking the trees, as well as the fungus I do not wantMy soil is very acidic by the the way the oaks grow on it, so scattered pits of ash leaching slowly will be good for the soil. I do not intend to burn massive amounts all at once. If I was able to get a wood chipper, I would throw the chips on the branch heaps, to help hold moisture to help the decompose, add more mushroom spawn.