State Plans to Log Big Parts of Massachusetts

Activists are asking Massachusetts residents to contact the governor by August 25 about a controversial state logging plan. Chris Matera is a spokesperson for the Northampton-based group Massachusetts Forest Watch www.MAforests.org He said:

“The Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) is taking comments through August 25 on its proposed ‘Landscape Designations for DCR Parks and Forests.’ The current plan protects 188,000 acres of DCR forests and parks but leaves about 412,000 acres of state public forests, watersheds and wildlife areas unprotected. This means that more than two-thirds of the approximately 600,000 acres of Massachusetts state-owned forests, watersheds and wildlife areas are open to commercial logging. It also means that only 7 percent of the 3.1 million acres of forest land in Massachusetts would be protected from logging by being in state parks and reserves. New York prohibits commercial logging on 20 percent of all forestland in the state.”

Matera asked people to send comments to

designation.comments@state.ma.us

and cc Governor Deval Patrick at

gov.webmail@state.ma.us

A map of the forest area under discussion is at

www.mass.gov/dcr/ld/ld_map.pdf

Matera said, “Massachusetts allows clear cutting of state-owned forests. Massachusetts Forest Watch is asking citizens to ask the state to protect all state-owned forests, watersheds, and parks in Massachusetts from commercial logging, with exceptions allowed for public safety or genuine emergencies. The state’s timber program costs more than it makes, leaving taxpayers effectively paying to cut down our own forests.”

Glen Ayers lives in Leverett, near Amherst. He is a member of Forest Watch. Ayers told The Valley Post that, in 2003, he was among a group of activists who did “tree sits” to protest an expansion of the Mt. Wachusett ski area onto publicly owned old growth forest north of Worcester.

This kind of direct action to save forests has had some remarkable successes across the country. In the 1990s, thousands of people attended rallies in favor of saving the ancient Headwaters redwood forest in northern California from logging plans by Maxxam Corporation. Hundreds of people were arrested for non-violent, civil disobedience. In 1996, the federal government bought 7,500 acres to create the Headwaters Forest Preserve. Logging is forbidden in the reserve.

More information is available by calling Matera at (413) 341-3878.

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