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Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: Don't Ban Logging at Quabbin; Enditol "Ad" Dangerous; and corrections

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Don't Ban Logging at Quabbin

Representatives from Environment Massachusetts in Boston have been circulating a letter urging MWRA communities to sign a petition requesting a permanent ban on logging in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed. The letter states that forestry practices at Quabbin are a threat to the water supply. The Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee believes this claim originated with one particular operation on which there were violations of Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) standard practices. However, water quality was not compromised by this or any other DWSP logging operation. That claim by Environment Massachusetts is unfounded and overlooks the fact that not one of many thousands of water quality samples analyzed over five decades has indicated a problem attributable to forestry operations on Quabbin lands. Spreading alarm using false claims is not constructive to the discussion about how to manage the watershed forests.

As part of the Forest Heritage Plan announced by former Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, in spring, 2010, DWSP reconvened the Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). The 16 scientists and foresters from universities, federal agencies and other organizations are reviewing the principles and practices of the Office of Watershed Management's forestry program. The public can comment on the report when it is released.

The Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee (WSCAC), located at the Quabbin, is contracted as the water supply advisory committee to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).

Lexi Dewey, Executive Director
Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee

*

We residents of Shutesbury are writing in exception to a letter [March 8, 2012] from Ben Wright of Environment Massachusetts, which falsely impugns the Department of Conservation and Recreation's management of the forested watershed surrounding Quabbin Reservoir and advocates for a permanent ban on practices such as thinning/harvesting of the forests there.

Shutesbury is a Quabbin watershed town; about 35 percent of its area is under DCR ownership and management. Our personal knowledge, observations, and experience of these woodlands show that DCR has taken the long view for a long time in caring for and conserving this unique public resource. Management practices including the thinning/harvesting of forests are not new in the Quabbin watershed. These forested lands we know and love to explore today have been shaped by these and other DCR management practices for over 50 years.

The primary purpose of DCR's forest management program is to further the long-term goal of sustaining a clean and reliable public water supply in a wooded watershed. Thinning/harvesting promotes forest diversity with respect to tree species and age. A forest with many different types of trees and everything from saplings to old growth is most resistant to damage by fire, disease, insects and natural disasters such as hurricanes. The temporary openings in the forest created by thinning/harvesting provide habitat for a greater diversity of plant and animal species. The work is contracted out, mostly to family-run logging businesses in Quabbin watershed towns, fostering a local agriculture that produces an organically grown product. Because this renewable resource is valuable, the DCR forest management program, unlike most state programs, partially pays for itself.

Mr. Wright is wrong; his claims are not supported by fact. Continuous monitoring of Quabbin Reservoir's water by DCR shows none of the "sedimentation" or "pollutants" Mr. Wright alleges. In fact, the quality of Quabbin Reservoir's water consistently ranks among the best of all public water supplies in the country. There are more trees and a greater volume of wood growing in the Quabbin watershed today than 50 years ago. For decades, natural resource professionals from around the world have traveled to Quabbin Reservoir to see a first-class example of how to balance clean water and judicious forest management. Quabbin Reservoir's forested watershed is in good hands. If in doubt, come take a walk with us and see for yourself.

Deacon Bonnar
Stephen Smulski
Penny Jaques
David Kittredge, Massachusetts Licensed Forester #127

*

Enditol "Ad" Dangerous

Today 89 people will kill themselves in the United States. Approximately one person commits suicide each week in each of the four counties of Western Mass. Mocking suicide as was done in the pseudo-advertisement for "Enditol" by Tom Pappalardo in the March 15th edition of the Valley Advocate was unwise, hazardous and negligent. On any day, this ad would be in horrible taste, but following a letter from Elizabeth Reinke, R.N. about her suffering with postpartum depression in the same edition, it was truly distressing.

We have been impressed with Maureen Turner's excellent coverage on postpartum emotional complications for the last three years. Unfortunately, this dangerous mock ad may have had, or could have, an impact on vulnerable individuals suffering with suicidal thoughts.

For those in our region who are struggling, help is available. Here are resources for you if you are feeling suicidal or have a family member in crisis (please call 911 if you are in immediate crisis):

Clinical and Support Options, covering all of Franklin County and the North Quabbin area: 800-562-0112 or 413-774-5411.

Covering all of Hampshire County: 800-322-0424 or 413-586-5555.

Brien Center, covering all of Berkshire County: 800-252-0227.

Behavioral Health Network, covering all of Hampden County: 800-437-5922 or 413-733-6661

Beth Spong, Executive Director, MotherWoman
Dr. Barry Sarvet, Baystate Medical Center and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Peggy Morse, Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention
M. Christine MacBeth, The Brien Center
Leslie Tarr Laurie, President/CEO, and Robert Reardon, Director, Tapestry Health
Karin Jeffers, Executive Director, Clinical and Support Options
Sera Davidow, Director, Western Mass. Recovery Learning Community
Susan Karas, Director of Outpatient Service, and
Jim Frutkin, Vice President of Clinical Services, ServiceNet
Susan Fortin and Jon Philips, Pioneer Valley Coalition for Suicide Prevention
Clare Higgins, Executive Director, Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin Regions

Corrections: The photos of the anti-nuclear protest on p. 9 of last week's edition should have been credited to ValleyPost.org. And in last week's story "NoHo: Yo-Yo Hot Spot," the "yo-yo evangelist" was Jack Finn of A2Z Science and Learning Store, not Jack Flynn of A to Z Science and Learning Store.

Comments (7)
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The Quabbin Reservoir should be seen as a biological jewel in the Commonwealth's crown. It should be managed on an equal footing with the most highly protected areas of this country such as our National Parks and other special places like the NY's Adirondack Park which also serves as a source of drinking water for millions of people. The Quabbin should be designated as a Biosphere Reserve and managed like many other critical watersheds in this country, off-limits to destructive logging machinery and so-called "foresters".

I have hiked extensively in the Quabbin watershed and have many pictures of the disgusting clear-cuts and slob forestry that is being practiced there by DCR (also known as the Department of Cut and Run). The treatment of the forest is appalling and in my opinion it should be illegal. The fact that carefully taken samples from certain areas of the reservoir show good water quality has nothing to do with the disgraceful clear-cutting that is occurring. Such brutal logging in a watershed takes time to have a cumulative impact, and samples can always be taken to show only what you want to show. The pictures don't lie. I would be (un)happy to show anyone the slob forestry that is being done on our "protected" Public Lands in the Quabbin.

Unfortunately, some of the extensively logged areas are actually off-limits to people, but not to the massive petroleum-spewing logging machines are free to enter and desecrate where not even a boot is allowed to tread. I kid you not. And the fact that a so-called "Science and Technical Advisory Committee" made up of foresters has been selected to review the cutting plan for the Quabbin just points to the corruption and collusion involved in the way the State pays out patronage and entitlements to special interests. Who would think that a group of foresters are not going to decide to "manage" the vegetation and get-the-cut-out, as measured in board feet? What do you expect from a pig, but oink? How fixed do you think this process is? Well its far worse than you can imagine. Something smells very rotten at the Quabbin. Even a child knows that you are not protecting water quality by punching-in sediment-spewing logging roads and cutting down the forest. Maybe that is why they like to hide the logging in the Quabbin in areas where the public is not allowed to visit? You'd get arrested if you even walked in those areas, but the logging trucks get the green light. To me that is more than absurd. It is corrupt criminality.

The vast majority of the public does not want any logging on our public trust lands. Especially destructive clear-cut logging. The State wipes out our forests, drives logging equipment through vernal pools and streams, fills-in wetlands, compacts areas by putting in roads and landings, and then says everything is OK, just go back to sleep. Meanwhile the fish in the Quabbin are so contaminated by mercury that they are literally toxic, you can't eat them. Why? Because every clear-cut and logged area releases even more mercury to poison the reservoir and the wildlife (about four times as much as an intact un-disturbed area). I don't trust "foresters" to protect my land public land or my wildlife. I want them to stay the hell off of our Public Lands. There are plenty of private tree farms and woodlots in this state to manage. So keep your chainsaws off of my Public Lands! And don't tell me that clear-cut logging is good for water quality and wildlife. The public is just not that stupid, in spite of what you hope.

Now, DON'T go back to sleep. Join the fight to really protect the Quabbin. Its going to take a movement.

Glen Ayers, Soil Scientist

Leverett, MA

Posted by Glen Ayers on 4.5.12 at 14:51

Please remember, the Quabbin Watershed is just that, a watershed. It is not a State Park nor a public recreation area. This is not public land. This "jewel" protects the public drinking supply for the Greater Boston aea and the South Hadley Fire District. I support the logging permits and also support any and all restrictions to public use.

Chris Bain

Boston, MA

Posted by Chris Bain on 4.5.12 at 21:43

As often is the case- we see extreme views but not enough "fair and balanced views". The reality is that they made some major errors in the mgt. of the Quabbin watershed- one side has trouble admitting that. The other side thinks the solution is no harvesting- which is one potential solution, but another solution is continue with the much more careful mgt. that occured under Bruce Spencer- forestry with a light touch.

Joe Zorzin

LF #261

Posted by Joe Zorzin on 4.6.12 at 3:12

Well meaning folks need to pause and find the truth of their passions. For many years liberal ideals have created a different "truth" than science supported reality. When we carry banners that support such things as preventing of forest harvest we are going to sustain a backlash that has science and ethics against us.

Ancient forests must be allowed to come into being. Stewardship requires the full commitment to recognize that true free nature cannot reestablish unless humans foster it. The Quabbin is an artificial wilderness with a prime duty to provide healthy water to a huge population. That mandate will be enforced. Folks visiting the worn paths and motor boated waters of Quabbin deceive themselves with their beloved vision. There are opportunities in the Holyoke range, the Housatonic, the Northern Plateaus and the vast areas near Monson. You cannot walk about the Monson area holdings. Your absence may be critical to the creation of true wilderness.

I hope that the fervor that launched this quest will find focus in a way that can actually work.

Posted by Earle Baldwin on 4.6.12 at 6:07

For the 99% of Massachusetts citizens that do not work in the timber industry, there is no good reason for logging in the Quabbin, and many good reasons not to.

The Quabbin forest represents less than 2% of Massachusetts forests, and is the most important block of undeveloped forest in this 3rd most densely populated state. These publicly owned forests protect fish and wildlife habitat, provide clean air, carbon sequestration, scenic beauty, tourism income, recreational opportunities and most importantly, protect the drinking water for 2.2 million residents.

Most of the Quabbin logs cut are shipped to Quebec, and the logging loses money so the public is forced to subsidize the cutting of their own forests.

Protecting the water is the reason these forests were purchased, not to supply cheap wood to the timber industry. Don’t buy the industry propaganda claiming that logging will “help” the water quality. Both common sense and credible science say otherwise. According to the US EPA:

“Local impacts of timber harvesting and road construction on water quality can be severe, especially in smaller headwater streams. These effects are of greatest concern where logging activity occurs in high-quality watershed areas that provide municipal water supplies or support cold-water fisheries.”

http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/czara/ch3-1.cfm

According to Dr. Orwig and Dr. Foster of Harvard Forest:

“All evidence suggests that harvesting exerts greater impacts on ecosystem processes than leaving disturbed or stressed forests intact. A conservative alternative hypothesis for the long-term management of watershed lands might be proposed: the elimination of harvesting and its associated impacts (e.g., soil compaction, road development and improvement) will yield forest and landscape conditions that maintain and improve water quality in the face of ongoing disturbances and stresses.”

Current management regimes aiming to increase long-term forest health and water quality are ongoing “experiments” lacking controls. In many situations good evidence from true experiments and “natural experiments” suggests that the best management approach is to do nothing.”

http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/publications/pdfs/Foster_ConservationBio_2006.pdf

How is it possible that citizens are not allowed to even walk on the Prescott Peninsula to allegedly protect the water, yet large diesel logging trucks are allowed in to clearcut nearly down to the waters edge?

Such absurdity only happens when foxes are running the henhouse, and when the media and watchdog groups have become lap dogs, like the Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee (WSCAC). Lexi Dewey writes for WSCAC defending the logging in the Quabbin and tips her hand when she claims there was only a single problem.

In fact, there was rampant clearcutting including many illegal cuts practically down to the waters edge and the state lost its “green” certification in no small part due to the Quabbin logging. For ground and aerial photos (15 MB), see: www.maforests.org/QUABBIN.pdf For Google Earth photos (5 MB), see: www.maforests.org/QUABBIN_Google_Earth.pdf

Ms. Dewey also did not accept an offer to visit the clearcuts and was apparently content with the dog and pony show by the very people who caused the problem.

Maybe none of this is surprising considering that the chairperson of WSCAC and also works for the New England Forestry Foundation, a clear conflict of interest. This statement gives insight into what is really happening in the Quabbin:

“It’s hard to sell New England Forestry Foundation memberships on the notion that we harvest trees. We have to frame it that we protect land — we have to go at it obliquely.”

For more info on timber industry propaganda, see:

www.maforests.org/Timberspeak-Timber_Industry_Propaganda.pdf

The public owns these forests, not the timber industry, and the public and the environment will benefit most by protecting these important public forests now from commercial logging.

Chris Matera

Massachusetts Forest Watch

www.maforests.org

Posted by Chris Matera on 4.6.12 at 18:37

For the 99% of Massachusetts citizens that do not work in the timber industry, there is no good reason for logging in the Quabbin, and many good reasons not to.

The Quabbin forest represents less than 2% of Massachusetts forests, and is the most important block of undeveloped forest in this 3rd most densely populated state. These publicly owned forests protect fish and wildlife habitat, provide clean air, carbon sequestration, scenic beauty, tourism income, recreational opportunities and most importantly, protect the drinking water for 2.2 million residents.

Most of the Quabbin logs cut are shipped to Quebec, and the logging loses money so the public is forced to subsidize the cutting of their own forests.

Protecting the water is the reason these forests were purchased, not to supply cheap wood to the timber industry. Don’t buy the industry propaganda claiming that logging will “help” the water quality. Both common sense and credible science say otherwise. According to the US EPA:

“Local impacts of timber harvesting and road construction on water quality can be severe, especially in smaller headwater streams. These effects are of greatest concern where logging activity occurs in high-quality watershed areas that provide municipal water supplies or support cold-water fisheries.”

http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/czara/ch3-1.cfm

According to Dr. Orwig and Dr. Foster of Harvard Forest:

“All evidence suggests that harvesting exerts greater impacts on ecosystem processes than leaving disturbed or stressed forests intact. A conservative alternative hypothesis for the long-term management of watershed lands might be proposed: the elimination of harvesting and its associated impacts (e.g., soil compaction, road development and improvement) will yield forest and landscape conditions that maintain and improve water quality in the face of ongoing disturbances and stresses.”

Current management regimes aiming to increase long-term forest health and water quality are ongoing “experiments” lacking controls. In many situations good evidence from true experiments and “natural experiments” suggests that the best management approach is to do nothing.”

http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/publications/pdfs/Foster_ConservationBio_2006.pdf

How is it possible that citizens are not allowed to even walk on the Prescott Peninsula to allegedly protect the water, yet large diesel logging trucks are allowed in to clearcut nearly down to the waters edge?

Such absurdity only happens when foxes are running the henhouse, and when the media and watchdog groups have become lap dogs, like the Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee (WSCAC). Lexi Dewey writes for WSCAC defending the logging in the Quabbin and tips her hand when she claims there was only a single problem.

In fact, there was rampant clearcutting including many illegal cuts practically down to the waters edge and the state lost its “green” certification in no small part due to the Quabbin logging. For ground and aerial photos (15 MB), see: www.maforests.org/QUABBIN.pdf For Google Earth photos (5 MB), see: www.maforests.org/QUABBIN_Google_Earth.pdf

Ms. Dewey also did not accept an offer to visit the clearcuts and was apparently content with the dog and pony show by the very people who caused the problem.

Maybe none of this is surprising considering that the chairperson of WSCAC and also works for the New England Forestry Foundation, a clear conflict of interest. This statement gives insight into what is really happening in the Quabbin:

“It’s hard to sell New England Forestry Foundation memberships on the notion that we harvest trees. We have to frame it that we protect land — we have to go at it obliquely.”

For more info on timber industry propaganda, see:

www.maforests.org/Timberspeak-Timber_Industry_Propaganda.pdf

The public owns these forests, not the timber industry, and the public and the environment will benefit most by protecting these important public forests now from commercial logging.

Chris Matera

Massachusetts Forest Watch

www.maforests.org

Posted by Chris Matera on 4.6.12 at 18:38

Last night on The Enviro Show we held our Annual Enviro Show Big Green Clearcutters Award. Sorry if you missed it, but the podcast should be up on our blog soon. In any case, this year's recipient was not clearcutting enthusiast, Elisa Campbell but rather Lexi Dewey, Executive Director Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee. Congradulations Lexi! You can pick up your award in a pile of slash in the middle of one of those ghastly clearcuts near Gate 21A in the Quabbin watershed. We'll provide the GPS coordinates........O wait, we forgot, you won't go out there to see all the horrific damage you've supported. In that case, we'll hold the award until we hear from you. Once again, congradulations!

Posted by d.o. on 4.11.12 at 15:01
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