Fight for the Trees

Unless activists stop the plan, thousands of acres of Green Mountain National Forest will be logged soon. The forest is about 10 miles from Brattleboro. “They are coming hard with the chainsaws to Green Mountain National Forest,” Chris Matera told the Valley Post. “What a sorry sight it will be to look down from the top of Mount Snow and see clear-cuts instead of that beautiful intact forest we see now.”

Matera lives in Northampton and was the main subject of a New York Times article about logging. To get an idea of what this logging will look like, see “before and after” photos that he took in 2017 in New Hampshire at www.maforests.org/WMNF.pdf

Activists are focusing on stopping logging on publicly owned land. Banning clear-cut logging, or all logging, there would result in logging companies buying more land, which in turn would keep that land from being converted to vacation houses, roads, parking lots and strip malls.

Banning logging in Green Mountain National Forest would be one of the best things Vermont could do to stop climate change, Michael Kellett told the Valley Post. According to the Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun daily newspaper, Kellett was a “key player” in the creation by President Obama of the 87,400 acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. Logging is banned in national monuments. Kellett runs a group that has a web site at www.restore.org.

In recent years, the group 350 Vermont has used non-violent civil disobedience to fight climate change. In California in 1996 about 1,000 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience to stop logging in the privately-owned Headwaters forest. The protesters won when the federal government bought 7,000 acres and permanently banned logging there.

No one is proposing in-person logging protests now. The plan is to wait until after the epidemic is under control. On April 2, Mike Pieciak, a top employee of Vermont's governor, said coronavirus cases in Vermont will probably peak later this month, then go down.

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Michael Kellett debunked claims by Vermont officials who defend clearcutting on so-called “current use” land, the owners of which get lower property tax rates in exchange for not allowing development. Kellett said, “The fact that (recently clearcut forestland near Brattleboro) is in 'current use' shows how flawed this approach has been. Most of these designations are just a subsidy to allow landowners to continue doing what they would do anyway, including logging the forest. We need easements and 'current use' designations that provide financial incentives for landowners to keep them 'forever wild' instead of logging them. Clearcutting is only an 'appropriate silvicultural prescription' if you want to convert a natural forest into an industrial tree farm. It leaves native forest ecosystems devastated for many decades, if not hundreds of years. The rationale that logging is necessary to remove 'poorly formed' and diseased — i.e., trees that have no commercial value — and to 'regenerate' the forest has no ecological validity or benefit. Forests do not need to be cut down to enable them to grow.”

Kellett continued, “One of the reasons there are so many deer is that logging — especially clearcutting — creates more deer habitat. Moreover, the state promotes the killing of natural deer predators such as coyotes and bobcats and opposes any effort to restore wolves. Large tracts of interior forest have lower deer densities than fragmented forests. In terms of invasive species, logging operations spread them from site to site and most of these species thrive in sunny conditions such as those created by clearcutting. Unlogged interior forests have far fewer invasive species than logged forests.”

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On February 13, 2020 in Northampton, about 25 people attended a march, with rallies before and after. They were protesting Stop & Shop’s involvement in the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Now, the group that organized the march is organizing an educational event. On April 7 at 6:30 p.m., people from the Valley Post coverage area will take part in a Zoom meeting about how to help local organic farmers, and protect forests. The public is welcome to be part of the Zoom meeting. More than 1,000 people from the Pioneer Valley have signed the group's petition calling on Stop & Shop to stop buying meat from Cargill. The meeting link is:

https://zoom.us/j/409432734

More information is available from one of the event organizers, Northampton resident Hayley Berliner. She can be reached by phone at (908) 380-7713 or by e-mail at hayley@greencorps.org.

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