Dear Conservation Commission:
Thank you for meeting with me at the Conservation Commission meeting on 26 July 2011. I presented evidence that the Farmers and Mechanics parcel needs to remain uncut of timber and managed to continue maturing into an old-growth stand and that the current low-level of invasives can be effectively controlled by hand-pulling by a cadre of volunteer stewards. We volunteers are ready and willing to perform immediate and ongoing maintenance and other stewardship functions on the F&M parcel. We hope to gather donations to go to the Conservation Commission, as well. This volunteer effort will be performed only if the stand is left uncut.
The current low-level of invasive plants is due to the fact that the stand has not been disturbed and that the overstory of large old trees protects the site. This healthy stand is emerging into a diverse old-growth stand, if left uncut. The forest stand is functioning well without the need for timber harvesting.
Disturbance due to cutting and removal of the large trees will create an accelerated infestation of invasives, requiring herbicide treatment, as Baystate admitted during the site walk. As you know, Baystate’s Forest cutting plan involves cutting down almost all of the 24″ – 36″ trees on the site, and then herbicide treating the invasives. Baystate also marked for removal smaller, understory trees, including numerous trees with active cavity dwellings, currently being used by various birds and mammals. This site, which is directly adjacent to Nashua River, got flooded twice last year, and the site has a high groundwater aquifer, so the use of chemical treatments on this site, needs to be avoided.
This expected infestation would be an immediate and long-term financial liability to the Town. The financial cost to treat the invasives would offset any potential revenues from the selling off of centuries-old trees, which makes Baystate’s proposal a bad financial deal for the Town. Cutting the stand is a long-term loss of old-growth forest for the Town with no financial gain for the Town, and a possible invasive infestation liability.
There is a growing interest from Groton residents to protect the F&M stand from timber cutting and to manage the stand to mature into an old-growth forest. Please visit “The Groton Line” website, Letters to the Editor, to see input from other Groton residents. The site is: http://www.thegrotonline.com/2011/07/24/dear-editor-about-that-farmers-and-mechanics-cutting-plan/
Here are three Responses to “Dear Editor: About That ‘Farmers and Mechanics’ Cutting Plan”:
Alan Hoch on July 24, 2011 at 9:54 am:
“I did not know this! This is particularly relevant and valuable information. Adam’s letter seems to me to be a picture of reasoned, scientifically-based thinking. If there are any arguments to the contrary, I would very much like to see them appear in print, on this venue, as soon as possible.”
Camilla Blackman on July 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm:
“I hope that we can listen to this knowledgeable voice and accept his offer to help us keep this valuable resource intact and well protected.”
David Black on July 25, 2011 at 9:39 am:
“I regret not being able to attend the site walk but would add my voice to those advocating managing this parcel for its ecological values. The parcel’s location next to the river adds to its value for many species which depend on these two resources occurring next to each other, a situation that, as Adam points out, is rare in Massachusetts. From a broader landscape perspective, parcels like this along a protected greenway are particularly important to wildlife movement. Logged areas in close proximity to the F&M site are heavily infested with invasives, and I agree that further cutting would speed this process up considerably. While I recognize the importance of managing forests for timber, I suggest that on this site the habitat values are greater than the value of the wood products.”
Thank you for these points of view from other Groton residents, as well.