Regarding the current logging on Northampton watershed lands: while “I can’t say it will make it healthier,” because quantifying the notion of “forest health” is too complicated and subjective, involving hundreds of plant and animal species, biogeochemistry, complex interactions and the passage of time, I can say the following:
The operation is both modest and conservative in scale, leaving an excellent distribution of mature forest cover. The resulting small openings will diversify wildlife habitat. The machinery involved is appropriate for the operation and creates negligible soil effect since the ground is frozen and snow covered, they operate on tracks that evenly distribute their weight, and they drive over the debris and branches that result from the felled timber. There is ample distance between the water and any harvesting, leaving abundant undisturbed forest. The loggers are skillful at harvesting while minimizing impacts to the residual stand. The forester who designed the operation paid careful attention to detail in his choice of timber to remove, and the means by which it is transported to the roadside.
I applaud Northampton’s decision to sustainably harvest wood from their watershed lands, while still providing a dependable and uninterrupted supply of water to its citizens. In so doing, Northampton joins other cities and towns like Fitchburg, Amherst and Boston, as well as Hartford and New Haven, Conn., and Providence, R.I., that have for decades managed forest for the entirely compatible win-win combination of water and wood. Since every American on average annually consumes the equivalent volume of wood from one tree 18 inches in diameter and 100 feet tall, Northampton citizens can take pride in knowing that wood from their land contributes to meeting our needs.
DAVID B. KITTREDGE
Massachusetts Licensed Forester