Commonwealth Releases New Forest Management Plans

Dec 7, 2012

Officials in Massachusetts have presented forest management plans for six new designated areas in the Commonwealth, and representatives from the wood products industry are pleased with the results. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Last night the Department of Conservation and Recreation completed a tour of public meetings where forest management projects for new designated woodlands were introduced and presented for feedback.

The six forest management proposals, two of which are located in Berkshire County, come off the heels of the Forest Future Visioning Process, which began in 2009 as a state-wide reassessment of how the Commonwealth should approach one of it’s most abundant natural resources.

Bill Hill is Supervisor of Management Forestry on State Lands at the DCR…

The Landscape Designation categories are reserves, parklands, and woodlands. A set of goals was developed for each type of designation, but the woodlands will be managed with specific conservation goals.

Stakeholders and members of the public viewed a series of presentations on the newly proposed management areas. DCR Foresters discussed each site, including the geography, catalog of tree species, and how to create a more diverse and uneven-aged forest ecosystem at each location through timber harvesting. They also stressed the need for proper management to help forest become more resistant to natural disasters, including a 2008 ice storm, and the remnants of Hurricane Irene and Sandy. Also included in the discussion were the threats of non-native species and disease.

Jeff Hutchins, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Forest Alliance, a group that represents the wood products industry, landowners, and foresters, explained that the demand for wood products in the Commonwealth equates to about 4 pounds per person per day.

Hutchins said the state’s management plans are a first step on increasing self-sufficiency in Massachusetts.

Berkshire County’s history is rooted in the wood products industry, and although more diminished today, remains a multi-million dollar driver of the local economy.

Jim Kelly, Chair of the Forester’s Council at the MFA also had praise for the state’s management plans.

A public comment period on the management plans is open now through January.

More information is available online here.