More than 1,000 sign petition against logging

  • Wendell State Forest FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2018 5:28:27 PM

WENDELL — State-funded plans to log a stretch of forest that’s been untouched for 110 years have revealed some deep-rooted concerns from residents.

In response to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s proposal to log an 88-acre portion of the 7,000-acre publicly owned Wendell State Forest, 1,148 people have signed a petition calling for Gov. Charlie Baker to cancel the project.

“This forest has been a wild land for over 100 years. We want it to remain exactly as it is, untouched by human interference,” reads the petition, delivered by the nonprofit RESTORE: The North Woods, one of the groups organizing against the logging.

According to Michael Kellett, executive director of RESTORE, the petition drive is urgent, because logging the 88-acre portion of oak forest by Wickett Pond is part of a larger logging project that has already begun. Nearby forest tracts have already been cut, and the oak forest logging could begin at any time.

Kellett said that logging could affect “wildlife habitats, soils, air and water quality, scenic beauty and recreational trails.”

In May, DCR spokesman Troy Wall said logging projects are “thoroughly reviewed” by the 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.

But protesters think that the “selective forest management” in Wendell would do more harm than good, and that logs cut locally are customarily shipped out of state for processing and manufacturing timber products, with few products making their way to locals.

“Governor Charlie Baker recently joined 16 other governors signing the United States Climate Alliance. One goal of the Alliance is to ‘increase carbon stored in forest ecosystems and reduce losses of already-stored carbon.’ If the governor is serious about fighting climate change, he should cancel the Wendell State Forest logging project and let this dense oak forest continue to sequester carbon,” Kellett said.

Kellett also cited an Oct. 7 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that states forests should be preserved to help prevent global warming.

According to Mary Booth, director of the nonprofit Partnership for Policy Integrity, “The science is clear that the highest and best use of native forests is for the carbon they sequester and the ecosystem services they provide. Harvesting these trees, which if left to grow will continue to sequester carbon for a hundred years into the future, is wasteful and unnecessary.”

The protesters have been meeting weekly — on Saturdays at 11 a.m. — outside Freight House Antiques in Erving, and will continue to meet there through Nov. 10 to raise awareness of the logging.

“We have been standing out on Route 2 holding signs for the past two months, and from the response we are getting, I would say that people are not happy that our forest is being cut,” said Jim Thornley of Wendell. “We hope that Governor Baker listens to our group and the over 1,100 people who signed this document.”

Lisa Hoag, a member of the Wendell Historical Commission, said — in addition to the absence of scientific or financial reasons for the logging — the project would be harmful to Wendell’s character.

“Wendell State Forest has important cultural features that would be destroyed by this logging project,” Hoag said. “But beyond that, protecting this forest offers people a special place to connect with nature. Many of my neighbors in Wendell agree that we need to save the forest from logging for the benefit of this and future generations.”

A DCR spokesperson could not be reached for comment on this story, and, according to Kellett, neither the DCR nor the governor’s office have provided the protestors any response to the petition.


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