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What Has Noho Done for Springfield?; No Certificate for Entergy; Euphorics for Seeger; Logging


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Has Noho Done for Springfield?

It is unclear why the Valley Advocate chose to run a recent cover story describing economic threats to Northampton posed by casino development in Springfield (“Can Noho Survive a Springfield Casino?”, March 6, 2014). Is the economic threat to Northampton posed by a casino in Springfield really credible? This fails on at least two points.  First, casinos are operations that encourage impulsivity, compulsivity and addictive behavior. In seeking cash they bring out the worst in people. And their entertainment options are probably just lures to get people to the tables and machines to gamble; that’s where the real money is made. On the other hand, Northampton’s offerings are an eclectic mix of art, music, funky shops, progressive politics and healthy food choices. But the bottom line remains that if it turns out that Northampton’s downtown can’t compete with a casino, some major introspection is due. Don’t blame the casino if people don’t continue to support Northampton.

It’s evident that despite the negative aspects of casinos, people will spend money in them, though less so than in the past. Springfield area residents anxious for jobs probably aren’t too worried about the motivations of whoever gives them steady work. They will be less than excited at the casino pay rates but will acknowledge it’s better than unemployment. They’re not concerned for a second that the casino will trash Northampton’s economy, and they shouldn’t be. What has Northampton done for them?

The Advocate story reeks of smugness and economic self-righteousness. Are any of the fear-ridden in Noho willing to acknowledge that the Springfield economy just might benefit from a casino, and good for Springfield? Or does the local “progressive” political mindset invalidate such acknowledgment?  

No Certificate for Entergy

With Tepco being overwhelmed at Fukushima; Japan not wanting to take responsibility; the U.S. government not monitoring radiation off the West Coast, believing Fukushima radiation will dilute before it hits the U.S.; and the Department of Energy not being forthcoming with information about the tragedy in U.S. atomic waste storage and its effect on nearby residents, atomic power is truly near its demise. Vermont Yankee is closing. I remain grateful for the skilled workforce that maintains Vermont Yankee. I do not believe the company that employs that skilled workforce, Entergy, deserves a state Certificate of Public Good for mismanaging this reactor.

Euphorics for Seeger

Upon Pete Seeger’s recent passing, it was fitting and proper that admirers express their pleasure with his knee-slapping songs and bubbly personality. There was also at least one letter to the Valley Advocate from a gentleman from New Jersey (“Of Reagan and Seeger,” March 6, 2014) who took a much-needed and deeper look into Seeger’s past and accurately described him as an “ardent Stalinist.” Back in the 1960s, surface feeders were first referred to as “Euphorics.” They are impulsive individuals who skim through life seeking titillation from outward appearances in shallow waters, and are not grounded in reality. They appear to be unfamiliar with pain. Euphorics have a flair for racing in wild abandon toward a gorgeous lily situated on a deep bed of quicksand. Euphorics are a danger to themselves, but a large number of them are a danger to any nation. Realists were shocked when it became clear in 1992 that Euphorics in huge numbers were charmed into embracing presidential candidate Bill Clinton. They then embraced Barak Obama in 2008.

Currently, America is up to its chest in quicksand and sinking, but Euphorics are oblivious to this fact. That seemingly unattainable, coveted dream of Pete Seeger and his fellow communists of the early 1950s of seeing America embrace communism has arrived on the wings of euphoria.  America has been “charmed to death.” Satan is stunningly sly and cruel. It takes the breath away.

Manage Forests, Don’t Neglect Them

Ellen Moyer’s call to stop logging on public land deserves the support of everyone who does not use toilet paper or read the Advocate (“Stop Logging Public Land,” March 6, 2014). Others may wonder how shipping logs and paper hundreds of miles in large diesel-burning trucks supports a green economy and the theme of buy local. Moyer correctly points out that healthy large trees absorb more carbon dioxide than saplings.

Anyone who has grown a garden knows that careful thinning produces the healthiest, largest vegetables. When trees are cut, they do not instantaneously return the carbon they have sequestered to the atmosphere. Lumber continues to hold on to its carbon until it rots or is burned (which may be hundreds of years from now). When wood is burned, it can reduce the need for oil or coal. As for toilet paper, if it is suitably returned to earth, it continues to sequester carbon quite unlike a log rotting in an uncut forest.

We need the forests we have and we should be adding to them, but careful management will do that much better than neglect. Massachusetts wood comes from some of the best-managed forests in the world; we have some of the strongest laws. If you get your wood products from other forests, you probably are supporting the poor cutting practices Moyers is rightly worried about.


DCR Falsely Accused

The Quabbin is not being clearcut. After a major review of forestry practices and a total remapping of Department of Conservation and Recreation-managed lands, some limited harvesting of timber has been approved. This is after a multiple-year project of designating lands for permanent conservation, parks and managed forests. This process has been very transparent with both public and scientific input. All work on public forests is preceded by public postings and the opportunity to visit the sites and ask questions or offer suggestions on these activities. This would show the small percentage of land actually being considered for harvesting, and the forest openings far from being as large as are commonly created in commercial clearcuts. While it is understandable that some feel no trees should ever be cut on public lands, announcing that the Quabbin is being clearcut and implying that it’s being deforested is far from accurate.

 

Wake Up, Northampton

Sadly, the state does intend to log and clearcut again in the Quabbin and other public forests. Of course they don’t use the sensitive word “clearcut”; they use other Orwellian names to mislead the public, but clearcut they intend to do.

Amazingly, even so called “progressive” Northampton is currently on the watershed logging bandwagon. Mayor David Narkewicz is allowing and defending aggressive commercial logging of Northampton’s most precious and important publicly owned drinking water supply protection forests. The logging contracts went out for bid in January, 2013 under his watch, and these critical public forests are being cut as you read this letter; 401 acres are targeted for logging in just the first two years of a 10-year program. 

This aggressive commercial logging is occurring at a financial loss to Northampton citizens, and has cost water ratepayers $102,000 over the past two years even when timber receipts and state grants are accounted for. It has also cost Massachusetts taxpayers $42,000. Massachusetts Forest Watch made multiple efforts to engage the mayor and organize a meeting to resolve this problem, but our concerns were ignored, then dismissed, then ignored again by Mayor Narkewicz.

There is no need to log these forests, and there are many reasons not to. The mayor is either wittingly or unwittingly using timber industry propaganda to sell the logging. He points to a “stewardship” plan that was written by vested interests, and which “spins” reality by claiming that forest “stewardship” means aggressively cutting the forest. 

The only ones benefiting from logging of Northampton’s public drinking water supply protection forests are a few foresters and loggers. The financial, ecological, and potential public health costs of a degraded watershed will be borne by Northampton’s 30,000 citizens, most of whom have no idea their public treasure is being looted. It does not take much perspective to see the hypocrisy of relatively wealthy, supposedly “green,” “progressive,” “climate-concerned” Northampton cutting down its most important public forests while expecting poor third world countries to protect their forests for climate health and global benefit.  See photos, learn more, and take action at www.maforests.org/mayor-narkewicz.pdf. 

 

Be Skeptical of Logging Claims

Whether it’s described as clear-cutting or as “limited harvesting of timber,” commercial logging on public lands and watersheds is short-sighted and unnecessary and should be banned. What spurred the original moratorium was the fact that activists and journalists documented that clear-cuts were taking place, and forestry officials in the end admitted that their own rules were being violated and the public was not adequately informed of the extent of the logging. In addition to diminishing the carbon storage effects of trees in public forests, commercial logging in drinking water supply watersheds puts the municipalities and the state at risk of greater expense if water quality declines and costly filtration systems have to be built as a result. Be very skeptical of the arguments that will be mustered trying to convince us that commercial logging is somehow good for these forests and for the public watersheds.

 

Devouring Ourselves

Whenever I think of logging, I think of the donut version of Homer Simpson, who can’t stop eating himself because he’s so moist and tasty—or profitable, in the case of logging—even though in both cases, we’re only devouring ourselves.

Trees have been and will continue to be our partners in this world, but just as most of us now know it is wrong to kill and commodify whales, trees need to become less and less our commodity and more a part of our strategy for saving the world. We can’t do it without them.

 

Rethink Forestry

Don’t buy the BS that the Quabbin is not being clearcut. So-called “patch cuts” are nothing but clearcutting patched together. The management of the Quabbin watershed forest has come unglued. What was once a model of forestry management is now a disaster in the making.

In this age of climate chaos, we must rethink our entire approach to forestry. In that regard our state, which is exemplary in other aspects of addressing the climate crisis, is out to lunch. We would be better off to do nothing in the watershed than to take out great swaths of trees and call it good forestry.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate