What Quabbin 'Timber Barons?'
It's frustrating to see environmentalists' energy dissipated in misdirected efforts to end the watershed forestry program at the Quabbin Reservoir instead of talking about ways to improve it ("Letters," May 10). Likewise, the organization Environment Massachusetts has fanned the flames to stimulate its statewide fundraising.
Most irksome about the Quabbin forestry debate is the hyperbolic terminology used by Ogden, Matera, Ayers, and others. First, "clear-cutting" is a moniker for destructive logging practices in the Pacific Northwest but is not apt to describe the majority of the one- to two-acre Quabbin patch cuts amidst thousands of acres of contiguous forest. Writers supporting Quabbin forestry are marginalized as clear-cut defenders, vested interests or apologists, without recognition that there is a legitimate other side to this issue not fueled by self interest. The local foresters and loggers who do this work are branded as the timber industry, logging interests and even as "timber barons" in one comment to the Advocate. Someone show me the big money, because I don't see it.
With respect to the letters themselves, Matera's was so over the top and full of bile it doesn't merit any attention. Ogden emphasizes that we already have enough "edges," but seemingly doesn't understand the concept in wildlife biology because he equates interfaces between forest and lawns or roads with those I referred to in my letter (between successional and mature forest). Both Ogden and Weber wax nostalgic for the pre-2007 forestry practices that were supposedly free of the "horrendous clearcuts." However, openings larger than today's relatively small patches were created prior to 2007. They now go unnoticed because of their vigorous forest growth or maintenance as open field habitat. Weber cites a letter by an ecology group to the U.S. Congress decrying certain forestry practices, but fails to state the letter was in no way specific to the Quabbin Reservoir.
Claudia Hurley reminds us that DCR's Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) "Green" Certification lapsed in 2009 ("Letters," May 17). Submitting to this certification process was voluntary on DCR's part and resulted in the forestry program at Quabbin Reservoir being the first public land in North America to be awarded the distinction in 1997. In 2009 the reviewers found a number of areas in need of minor correction and the DCR is addressing some and seeking clarifications on others. But no one should make more of this by suggesting all forestry at Quabbin must therefore cease; that would be like saying to your child that should her soccer team not win the state championship again this year she can't play soccer anymore.
Stephen Kaiser from Cambridge ("Letters," May 23) makes a largely emotional appeal, believing the Quabbin watershed has morphed from former farmland to "sacred land" today, and that making any openings or edges through applied forestry is "desecration." And, perhaps most importantly, he doesn't like the way it looks. I think this subjective, quasi-religious argument has no place in what should be a scientific critique of DCR's watershed management practices. The hawk swooping down on the rabbit in one of those transitory clearings would agree.
Finally, several writers invoke Bruce Spencer, Quabbin's former chief forester, noting that he has been critical of Quabbin practices since his retirement from DCR. It is paradoxical how foresters are regularly trashed by most Quabbin critics, except when one says something useful to them. I've known Bruce for 18 years as a colleague, consider him a friend and respect his accomplishments in forestry. DCR would be wise to head his counsel. However, one thing I don't ever expect to hear from Bruce is that the forestry program at Quabbin should end because there exist differences of opinion around management practices.
Hold the Lobster
As widely reported in New England, Calvin the calico lobster is getting a second chance at life after being saved from the cooking pot at a Massachusetts restaurant. [Editor's note: the lobster was found at Jasper White's Cambridge Summer Shack restaurant in early May; the rare crustacean subsequently took up residence at the Biomes Marine Biology Center in Rhode Island.]
While calico lobsters are exceedingly rare—only one in 30 million lobsters has Calvin's coloring—no lobster deserves to be boiled alive.
Lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old, they recognize individual lobsters, remember past acquaintances, have elaborate courtship rituals, and help guide young lobsters across the ocean floor by holding claws in a line that can stretch for many yards. And although theories abound, no one has ever come up with a satisfactory way to give lobsters a painless death.
The next time you consider eating one of these interesting living beings, please pass, and opt for an animal-friendly, vegetarian meal instead.
The PETA Foundation