Stumps in Wendell State Forest inspire memorial service and next moves

  • Bill Stubblefield, in foreground, speaks to a crowd at a memorial gathering Sunday in the Wendell State Forest. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • A small crowd gathered in the Wendell State Forest on Sunday to memorialize an area that was cut for timber. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2019 1:00:12 AM

WENDELL — Local protesters were unable to prevent a logging campaign in the Wendell State Forest, but some are still trying to keep the issue in the public’s eye.

Members of the Wendell State Forest Alliance are working on a scientific study of the parts of the forest that were cut for timber this summer. The study seeks to make authoritative claims regarding the environmental impact of logging in the forest, said Bill Stubblefield, a retired scientist who lives in Wendell and volunteers for the Wendell State Forest Alliance.

The Wendell State Forest Alliance has been in the news for about year, due to its efforts to undermine a state-sanctioned logging campaign in the forest. Alliance members held numerous public demonstrations against the project, notably including attempts to physically block the loggers from reaching the trees. They also tried to legally block the project, unsuccessfully.

The alliance opposed the logging on grounds that it was environmentally irresponsible.

But the state Department of Conservation and Recreation argued that the project’s selective logging — cutting only certain trees in scattered areas that are relatively small, rather than clear-cutting a whole section of forest — was good for the long-term health of the forest.

Ultimately, the project went through, and was largely complete by the end of September.

On Sunday, members of the Wendell State Forest Alliance held a memorial service in the forest, led by Stubblefield, the Wendell scientist. The short program included a song, a poem and chances for attendees to share their thoughts.

Stubblefield also discussed the study, which he and other alliance members are coordinating. The work involves measuring tree stumps in select areas of the forest in order to determine the age, size and species of the trees that were cut.

The information can also be used to extrapolate how much carbon the trees absorbed from the atmosphere, Stubblefield said. The Wendell State Forest Alliance has often argued that, because trees absorb carbon, logging in the forest may worsen global warming.

“So we should be able to speak with authority of how much carbon was lost,” Stubblefield said, “and insist that DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) should do it themselves.”

Already, the survey has yielded some information on the forest. The forest was probably logged about 100 years ago, Stubblefield said, judging by the number of trees with multiple trunks growing out of one stump. This is caused when multiple sprouts start to grow around one stump, he said.

“And it will take that long before they (the trees) are doing the services they provided when they were cut down,” Stubblefield said.

So far, the study has sampled 412 tree stumps, with plans to sample a few hundred more, Stubblefield said. It should be possible to project the findings of the sample to the whole forest, he said.

In the logging project this summer, about 7,000 trees were cut, Stubblefield said.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261 ext. 261.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy