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"Forest Management" plans for public lands evoke concern by Mass Forest and Parks Friends Network
added to website February 3, 2010
All links below, including links from images, go to other websites.
Original at

Mass Forest and Parks Friends Network of which FAR is a part, explains the new state policy for "forest management" on public lands and expresses deep concern about these practices on tens of thousands of public land acreage.

Dear Friend,

You are receiving this email because you have been identified by the Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network as someone who cares about our public lands. Please take a minute to read this important message about the Forest Futures Visioning Process, an issue that will affect every forest and park in the Commonwealth.

Friends Objections to the TSC Recommendations

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) formed the Forest Futures Visioning Process (FFVP) to make recommendations on the future management of Massachusetts' state forests because many of you found logging practices on state land unacceptable. The process comprised two groups: the Technical Steering Committee (TSC), a group of "experts"; and the Advisory Group of Stakeholders (AGS), a group representing public interests. The TSC has prepared a draft of its recommendations for public review.

For the past 10 months, Friends Network representatives on the AGS have repeatedly presented the TSC with the concerns that led to the formation of the FFVP in the first place. While the TSC's recommendations answer some of our concerns, many remain. The Friends Network wants you to know where we think more work is needed if we are truly to develop a new vision for the management of our forests.

1. No more clear-cuts on state lands.

ImageThe TSC supports clear-cuts up to 5 acres (5 football fields). Clear-cutting is the most destructive form of forestry and has no place on public lands.

See Massachusetts Forest Watch for information on clear-cuts.

2. No to "early successional habitat" as an excuse for clear-cutting.

The TSC proposes clear-cutting 30,000 acres to "create early successional habitat", but we think this is used as an excuse for clear-cutting timberland. Clear-cutting to create wildlife habitat only has the desired effect for 3-5 years, after which time saplings take over and wildlife moves on. Heidi Ricci, Mass Audubon's Senior Policy Analyst and a member of the AGS said, "On early successional, its not just whether DCR should do such management at all but how and where. Many people question whether rather random holes in the forest are the right way to do this, vs. targeted management of overground fields, expansion of existing open areas, etc." We prefer a compromise, whereby wildlife habitat is managed on a small subset of lands—4,500 acres on a continual 15 year rotation (300 acres/year cut every 15 years). Let's maintain meadows and ensure forest rotation that really benefits wildlife.

Find out what other AGS members had to say about early successional management and other topics at the AGS Google Group.

3. Strengthen language that protects parklands from commercial timber extraction.

Creating a new land zoning system (parklands, working woodlands, and reserves) is a good idea. Parklands zoning will be managed primarily for recreation, much like the urban park system, with cutting only for hazard trees, to maintain views, etc. Because they are unique, please join us in asking that Bradley Palmer, Boxford State Forest, Cleaveland Farms, Georgetown Rowley, Harold Parker and Willowdale become designated parklands.

To find out if your forest is targeted for logging go to Friends Network "Forestry Concerns Page". Scroll down to "Which forests are to be used for timber? Is your favorite on the list?".

4. Set aside 7% of Massachusetts lands in reserves and parklands.

Private lands can supply timber, but they cannot provide recreation, biodiversity, wildlife corridors, and carbon sequestration like public lands can. William Moomaw, Professor of International Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a TSC member who wants more land in reserve than the TSC recommendations allow, said, "Many developing countries are trying to protect 10-25% of their forests (Surinam and Guyana are over 80%), while we are at the 1-2% level for reserves in Massachusetts. The TSC proposed increase brings us up to 3-4% of statewide lands." Audubon and Sierra Club are also advocating for more protected lands than the TSC. The AGS wants 80% parklands and reserves and 20% working woodlands; only ~ 7% of MA protected from logging. Is that really too much to ask for?

To see what the TSC has to say, see Forest Futures Technical Steering Committee GoogleGroup.

5. Demand site-specific resource management plans for each state forest and park.

Improved planning processes for our forests include ecology, recreation, wildlife, historic resources and other important land values. The TSC did not address the fact that the law governing forestry states, "The commissioner of conservation and recreation shall submit management plans to the stewardship council for the council's adoption with respect to all reservations, parks, and forests under the management of the department, regardless of whether such reservations, parks, or forests lie within the urban parks district or outside the urban parks district. "The plans are to "provide for the protection and stewardship of natural and cultural resources." Please join us in insisting that DCR create Resource Management Plans for each forest and park, starting with the state forests open to commercial timber harvesting.

6. Say no to creating a Commissioner of Forest Stewardship.

TSC wants to create a new position, the Commissioner Forest Stewardship, within the bureaucracy of the Office of Energy and Environment Affairs (EOEEA). Instead, of hiring another timber-interest bureaucrat, please ask for a forest ecologist or a conservation biologist to advise existing state agencies on how to best protect and preserve public forests. Let's keep Forestry under DCR management to better balance all values of state land.

7. Don't allow our public lands to be used to promote timber and biomass extraction for private industry, subsidized by taxpayers.

The TSC recommends using our forests for "demonstration" logging projects across 100,000-150,000 acres of state parks and forests to benefit logging interests. Keep state public lands off limits to product marketing for private industry and propaganda for biomass plants.

For more information see MASSACHUSETTS FORESTS AT THE CROSSROADS Forests, Parks, Landscapes, Environment, Quality of Life, Communities and Economy Threatened by Industrial Scale Logging & Biomass Power Deerfield River, Mohawk Trail Windsor State

8. No thanks to FSC Certification of state forests.

The TSC is promoting the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification program, which they say protects our forests. But it took citizens pointing out gross violations that caused the state to loose certification. FSC is a distant international organization, is costly, promotes clear-cutting, and has proven ineffective for protecting public forests. We recommend stronger regulations and local oversight to protect forests.

To learn more about problems with FSC see

9. Support real public forums.

The FFVP public forums have been designed to limit democratic discussion and input. Two of the meetings have been scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. How can working people attend?

At the forum, you will be shunted into small groups where a "facilitator" will write down your comments. We believe everyone who attends the forums should have the right to make comments directly to state officials and be heard by everyone else in the room. Please support the Friends Network at the forums when we stand up and ask for a true democratic exchange!

The TSC draft recommendations. Please read and decide if this is the vision you expected.


The FFVP comment period closes February 22. Please submit written comments via email to: or attend a public forum.

Upcoming public forums will be at the following dates, times, and locations:

Thursday, February 4, 2010,  6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (Snow date: Tuesday, February 16) Westborough Public Library, 55 West Main Street, Westborough.

Saturday, February 6, 2010, 10 a.m.- Noon (Snow date: Saturday, February 13)  North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, North Adams .

Saturday, February 6, 2010, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. (Snow date: Saturday, February 13)  Berkshire Community College - Melville Hall Room 201, 1350 West Street, Pittsfield .             

Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Jones Library, 43 Amity Street, Amherst.           

Thursday, February 11, 2010, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (Snow date: Thursday, February 18)  Taunton Public Library, 12 Pleasant Street, Taunton.

See DCR information on FFVP public meetings here.

Thank you for caring about the future of Massachusetts' forests,

Your friends in the Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network

The Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network
P.O. Box 1199
Plymouth, Massachusetts 02362