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Wendell State Forest logging plans being protested

  • Wendell State Forest file photo


Recorder Staff
Thursday, September 20, 2018

WENDELL — A group that’s protesting state plans to start logging at Wendell State Forest is preparing a petition calling for a halt in those plans as well as a weekly Saturday protest along Route 2 on Saturday.

The “Save Brook Road Forest” group is also planning “A Gathering to Offer Love, Honor, Respect for the Trees of Brook Road Forest” on Sunday.

According to organizers, who have called for weekly 11 a.m. Saturday protests through Nov. 10 in front of Freight House Antiques in Erving, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation plans to log in the Wendell State Forest in November. Part of the proposal is to harvest an 88-acre, 110-year-old oak forest that is a part of the 7,000-acre publicly owned forest. The protestors feel that this logging project cannot be justified for ecological or forest health purposes, and has minimal if any financial benefits for the public.

“This portion of Wendell State Forest has not been logged in over 110 years,” said Wendell resident James Thornley. “It includes a stately, 80-acre old oak forest that is just beginning to reach an old-growth condition — something that is rare in Massachusetts. Located between the two ponds, this forest is one of the most visited and cherished areas in the state forest, and we want it to remain exactly as it is — untouched by human interference.”

Wendell Historical Commission wrote a letter to DCR in April contending that if the logging is allowed to go forward, it will cause irreparable damage to sensitive cultural sites in the area. It said DCR has failed to adhere to its own cultural resources policies and guidelines.

A DCR spokesperson could not be reached on deadline to comment about the group’s objections. But in May, spokesman Troy Wall said that timber harvest projects are “thoroughly reviewed” by professionals, including the state Department of Fish and Game, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, DCR’s upland ecologist, park operations staff and cultural resource archaeologist.

“The commonwealth is proud of its creative and aggressive approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and continues to implement selective forest management projects in an effort to promote the health of woodlands and diverse habitat across the state, and increase forest resilience to climate change impacts,” he said.

He said DCR held a public meeting March 31, 2016, on the proposed project.

The “love for our trees” gathering from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday is planned at Carlton and Brook roads in the heart of the forest. The intersection is accessible from Montague Road at Marshes Road, east of state forest headquarters

“If you wish, please express on a small piece of paper, your honoring, a story, or a prayer for the trees from Your Heart,” organizers suggest. “We gather together in Love as the Family of Life Together. We ask that all who come, come in Peace, and come with Love in their heart for the Forest. We ask that conflict energy not be brought into the forest.”

They advise bringing prayers, yarn, ribbon, and “string to tie your prayer around a tree,” as well as drinking water and hiking attire.

The group has already collected 645 names on its petition to DCR Commissioner Leo Roy calling on the forest to be placed under “reserve” status rather than being managed.