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Letter: Forest stewardship

As someone who is interested in building an ecologically sound local economy for the long run, I’m an enthusiastic supporter of local agriculture and local forestry. So I was interested to read the account of controversy around the watershed logging operation in Northampton in The Recorder. I have experienced first-hand the professional work of Mike Mauri, the forester involved, and know the care and attention and ethical standards he applies to his work with people and the forest.

There’s no doubt that every act of farming and forestry is an intervention in the ecosystem with multiple, often unforeseen consequences. But meeting our needs as much as possible through local land resources and having local people gain a livelihood by doing it, has much more integrity than depending on environmental and labor practices in distant places.

There are few easy decisions for those who take stewardship seriously. I have a lot of respect for the farmers, foresters and loggers who make stewardship choices every day as they make their living from the land. Their work is on display for all of us to see (and often misunderstand)! I’m also grateful to the scientists who study farm and forest practices and help us see the ecological consequences of our land use choices.

My experience is that the bureaucratic system that approves logging plans like this in Massachusetts is thorough in its consideration of the issues. The process generally works slowly enough that anyone who wants to participate is able to do so, but interested people have to be paying attention. Journalism can play an important role in informing rather than inflaming the discussion. I think your reporter did a good job capturing the points of view. It’s great to have a local newspaper that makes space for this. Thanks!



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