Quabbin National Park Proposed

A new group is working to stop clear cut logging in the Pioneer Valley's biggest area of protected open space. The activists want to do that by persuading politicians to convert the 87,000 acre Quabbin state forest into a national park. Of that area, 58,000 acres is land, the rest is water. Stopping logging on the land would make it more profitable for logging companies to buy forestland that might otherwise be turned into houses, roads, Walmarts, and parking lots. Logging companies can be required to log sustainably, not using clear cut logging. This kind of rule exists in Vermont.

The USA is losing an average of 6,000 acres of open space every day, according to www.tpl.org/ourland.

On October 13, about 40 people met in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, which borders Amherst and the Quabbin forest. They were deciding how to create a Quabbin National Park. “Acadia National Park is 48,000 acres,” Michael Kellett told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on October 14. He spoke at the meeting.

According to a September 5 article in the Lowell Sun daily newspaper, Kellett was a “key player” in the creation by President Obama this summer of the 87,400 acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. Logging is banned in national monuments and in national parks. The difference is that creating a national park requires an act of congress; creating a national monument does not.

“There were people at the meeting in Shutesbury who want to attend a rally for this issue, others want to call their elected representatives, others want to do non-violent civil disobedience,” Kellett said.

Kellett is the director of a group that has a web site at www.restore.org. He is also employed by a group that has a web site at www.GlenCanyon.org.

One model for how to protect open space comes from California. Some of the redwood trees growing near Eureka, California are more than 2,000 years old and more than 300 feet tall. Many people who have stood in silence among these trees, in the fog that often blows in from the nearby Pacific Ocean, have later said they felt like they were in a sacred place. In 1996, the world’s biggest privately owned ancient redwood forest was in Carlotta, near Eureka. The nearest big city is San Francisco, a five-hour drive to the south. The 3,000 acre forest, known as Headwaters, was owned by the Texas-based Maxxam Corporation. Maxxam’s CEO, Charles Hurwitz, had said his employees would begin logging in Headwaters on September 16, 1996, the first day allowed by federal endangered species laws.

On Sunday, September 15, 1996, a crowd of several thousand protesters stood outside the gates of a Maxxam logging mill near the Headwaters forest. More than 400 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. Within weeks of the rally, the federal government announced it would buy 7,500 acres of land, including the Headwaters forest and some surrounding land where younger redwood trees grew. This later happened and today the area is a park, the Headwaters Forest Preserve. According to an article about the rally in the October 1996 issue of the North Coast Journal, then a monthly (later a weekly) newspaper in nearby Arcata, “The loudest applause of the day went not to visiting celebrities Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley, but to Cecilia Lanman, the local activist who seems to have risen to the rank of general in the Headwaters Army.”

In 1996, Lanman was director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) in Garberville, California. In a 2007 interview, she told the Valley Post that media coverage was critical to turning people out for the rallies, and raising money for the legal and political battles that went on for a decade and finally resulted in the creation of the park. But, she said, some news outlets were more helpful than others. Among the least helpful was the daily newspaper in Eureka, the Times Standard. “They were the worst. They were very pro-Hurwitz,” Lanman said. The best news outlet was a local, democratically run radio station, KMUD, she said. “KMUD is the heartbeat of our community. They helped us a lot.” She also praised coverage of Headwaters provided by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a locally owned, free weekly newspaper. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that the Headwaters forest is still there, you can still go hike in it,” she said. “That’s because of the protests and EPIC’s legal action.”

The Headwaters forest is in Humboldt county, California. In 1996, the Times-Standard, published in Eureka, was the only daily newspaper in the county. On September 20, 1996, the newspaper’s then-owner, Thomson Newspapers Corporation of Toronto, Canada, announced it was selling the Times-Standard to MediaNews Group Corporation of Denver, Colorado.

The big rally to save Headwaters happened on September 15, 1996. On September 12, the Times-Standard published an article on the top-right corner of page 1, “National Focus on Headwaters.” Pacific Lumber was a Maxxam subsidiary. The first sentence of the article read, “The Headwaters Forest demonstration planned in Humboldt County on Sunday is counterproductive and won’t contribute to resolving disagreements over salvage logging in the forest, a Pacific Lumber Co. spokeswoman said Wednesday.”

The article about the upcoming rally quoted only the Maxxam spokesperson, the pro-logging Republican governor, the county sheriff, another county official (talking about problems he believed the protesters would cause), and a spokesperson for the federal Department of the Interior. There were no quotes from any of the organizers of the protest.

The next day, September 13, 1996, the Times-Standard published an unsigned editorial which said that non-violent civil disobedience is counterproductive. (The author did not mention the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and thousands of other activists through history.)

Also in its September 13, 1996 edition, published on the Friday before the Sunday rally, the Times-Standard ran two news stories that seemed designed to dampen enthusiasm for the rally. The first article, on page A1, was headlined, “Carlotta Citizens Sigh, Prepare for Rally.” First, the reporter quoted the owner of a grocery store who said, “It’s not fair that Humboldt County residents are going to have to bear the cost” of paying police officers to direct traffic and arrest protesters. The next quote in the front page article was from a Maxxam employee who said of the rally, “There’s a lot of hard feelings, to be truthful.” The third person quoted was also a Maxxam employee. “I think it’s a bunch of malarkey,” he said of the protest. The final quote in the article was from a local elected official vowing to do everything necessary to prevent violence at the rally, even though no one in the article had suggested that anyone would be violent. (As it happened, the rally was non-violent.)

Coverage of Headwaters in the weeks before the rally in the free, weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian could hardly have been more different than the Times-Standard’s coverage. The Guardian had been locally owned since it began publication in 1966. It printed its slogan in every issue: “It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.”

In its Thursday issue published before the Sunday rally, the Guardian published an unsigned editorial, “Saving Headwaters.” The author summarized the standoff between Hurwitz and government negotiators, then wrote, “So it’s looking like the fate of Headwaters will be in the hands of activists who have vowed to take whatever action is necessary, from protests to civil disobedience, to block the chainsaws.” The same issue of the Guardian included details about the rally, and contact information for rally organizers, to make it easy for any reader who wanted to go.

KMUD is a commercial-free, listener-supported community radio station which can be heard from Mendocino, California to the California-Oregon border, a 250 mile-long, mostly rural area. KMUD airs the daily news program, “Democracy Now!” The station produces its own daily, 30 minute local news program, which airs at 6 p.m. every week night.

In 1996, Jane Lapiner was a school teacher living in Petrolia, California, near Headwaters. She was among the people who were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience at the September 15, 1996 rally. In a 2007 interview, Lapiner told the Valley Post that, in 1996, she got most of her news from KMUD. “A lot of the people at the rally would have heard about it on KMUD,” she said. “People were always calling in to the station with news from protests, and from jails where protesters were taken. KMUD covered Headwaters activists in a favorable and honest way.” Of her experience at the rally, Lapiner said, “It was exhilarating to get arrested. It felt correct to stand up to the wrongs that [Maxxam subsidiary] Pacific Lumber was committing.”

In the weeks and days leading up to the Headwaters rally, KMUD broadcasted extensive coverage of the issue, and frequently announced the time and location of the rally. Four days before the rally, the station devoted 23 minutes of its 30 minute daily local news program to coverage of Headwaters and the rally. Most of this coverage was produced by Estelle Fennell, the news director at KMUD.

In a 2007 interview, Fennell told the Valley Post that in the weeks and days before the rally, many people called the station to ask for more details about the rally. Fennell attended the rally as a reporter. “I had a magnetic ‘KMUD’ sign on my car at the rally,” she said. “People kept coming up to us and saying, ‘Yeah, KMUD! You guys are great.’ At the rally I felt that I had been of service, that my work had been useful. People told me that. Working here is not a big money-maker. But there’s a lot of reward in feeling like you served your community.”

A September 5, 1996 KMUD News report about Headwaters, produced and read by Fennell, included an interview with activist Judi Bari who said, “People’s presence at this rally is going to make a huge difference.” Fennell then said, “Rally organizers have been meeting with Maxxam, the sheriff’s department, the California Highway Patrol, and CalTrans [the state agency that managed the road alongside of which the rally was held] to make sure everything will go smoothly.” This information would have been reassuring to listeners, especially ones with young children, who were trying to decide whether to go to the rally.

Similarly, a report broadcast on KMUD News on September 9, 1996 by reporter Betty Miller included an interview with rally organizer Naomi Wagner, who spoke directly to listeners who were considering risking arrest for non-violent civil disobedience at the rally, “If you give police your name and show your ID, you will be released the same day…. We encourage everyone to come to the nonviolence training sessions we are offering. You will learn a lot and it will be fun.” The reporter then read over the air the times and locations of the training sessions, and a phone number that people could call for more information.

On September 10, KMUD aired a report by Fennell about the state forestry board’s decision to allow logging at Headwaters. Fennell interviewed Kathy Glass, a spokeswoman for one of the groups organizing the rally. Glass said of the board’s decision, “This is pretty frustrating…. There are endangered species living in Headwaters. There are clear cuts all around and between the Headwaters groves…. We are at our wits’ end. The government regulatory agencies tend to agree with industry. We’re hoping that the rally, direct citizen involvement, will be effective. We’re not sure what else we can do.”


The below map of the Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire shows that the vast majority of the farmland and forestland is vulnerable to being converted to houses, roads, parking lots, and Walmart stores and similar commercial buildings. The map was current as of 2015.

Click on the map to enlarge it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." Then click on the map again to enlarge it more. You can move the image using the arrows on your keyboard.


Great read. I hope they

Great read. I hope they continue to make some headway on the Quabbin project. I think that is a must for Western Mass. These logging companies come in and make huge messes.

Matt Lareau
Chicopee, MA (temporarily in California)

Cockamamie idea?

Inside Outside by Allen Young
Quabbin National Park: Sensible Idea or a Cockamamie One?
Published, Athol Daily News, Oct. 6, 2016
Some people have come up with the idea of taking the Quabbin Reservoir with its surrounding land and turning it into a national park. I suppose people with the very best intentions may think this is a great idea, but the word that came to my mind immediately was “cockamamie.” You can use Google, as I did, to learn about the origin of this word and see this list of synonyms: “absurd, ridiculous, comical, derisive, derisory, farcical, laughable, ludicrous, pathetic, preposterous, risible and silly.”
Antonyms are “earnest, serious, solemn; believable, conceivable, credible, logical, rational, realistic, reasonable and sensible.” The earnest proponents of this plan have scheduled a public event for Oct. 13 from 6-9 p.m. at the Shutesbury Elementary School, 23 West Pelham Road. Their announcement says:
“Mass Forest Rescue Campaign and RESTORE the North Woods will team up to sponsor Michael Kellett, Executive Director of RESTORE. Michael Kellett has been working for 30 years to restore and permanently protect wilderness and wildlife, benefitting the health and well-being of nature, people and climate. RESTORE played a critical role in laying the groundwork for President Obama’s recent designation of the Katahdin Woodlands and Waters National Monument, protecting over 87,000 acres next to Baxter State Park in northern Maine.
“Michael will help the audience understand why the creation of a Quabbin National Park is a good idea and what it would involve. The Quabbin Reservoir watershed is the largest tract of public land in southern New England. Established in the 1930s to supply water to greater Boston, the Quabbin and lands around it became an ‘accidental wilderness’ of recovering forests, watersheds, and wildlife. Instead of preserving the Quabbin watershed, the state is degrading the area with industrial logging, subsidized by Massachusetts taxpayers. Citizens are proposing the creation of a 120,000-acre Quabbin National Park, which would protect the entire watershed from logging and other development, allow the recovery of native wildlife, store vast amounts of carbon to mitigate climate change, educate the public about natural and historic values, offer unique wilderness recreation, and attract increased tourism and business to local towns. As with the recently designated National Monument in Maine, a Quabbin National Park or Monument can happen if concerned citizens join together to build overwhelming pressure on the Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the President.”
In the past couple of weeks, I have been communicating with an assortment of civic leaders, foresters and environmentalists in the North Quabbin region and not one has shown enthusiasm for a Quabbin National Park. Most are sharply critical of the idea, and I will be quoting from some here without using their names as these were sent to me via email and Facebook, and I try to adhere to some internet etiquette about privacy.
To start, this is from a woman who serves on the select board of a town with lots of Quabbin land:
“With so many critically important things going on in the ENTIRE world and Massachusetts, why valuable time would be spent on focusing on protecting a highly valued, protected, and beneficial area such as the Quabbin watershed is beyond me.”
One forester told me he plans to attend, explaining, “A main reason is to get a sense of the concerns and reasoning of the pro-national-park effort and sentiments….Am sure that the RESTORE the North Woods interests are sincere, but I sincerely hope they look elsewhere with their energy.”
An accomplished naturalist and educator from New Salem said that she would like to hear more about the proposal, but warned, “The water resource needs careful management and the state is not apt to turn that over to federal control. It would not be wise to open the reservation to more use.”
Here are some of the other comments:
“A terrible idea for many reasons,”
“Making it a national park would increase access and potentially degrade one of most pristine areas in the Commonwealth.”
“My initial feeling is that it is an overreach. The water supply for 2.5 million people needs to have the water supply directive as the number one priority. I question the 120,000 acres, as current ownership is about 27,000 acres of reservoir and 56,000 acres of forest. Where is the rest of the acreage coming from? What would be the effect on the boat fishing -- a hot issue here in North Quabbin?”
“A water reservoir should not become a park. It should remain protected because it is a drinking water supply. I am not in favor of hunting, fishing or boating there. People gave up their entire family history to provide this resource. It is not a playground.”
“We have excellent people who know this area doing good work to preserve large parcels of land. How does this fit in?”
As for me, I am troubled by the anti-logging screed in the publicity for the Oct. 13 meeting. Although I proudly call myself a tree-hugger, I know I live in a wood house with wood furniture -- and I respect managed forestry. I do not respect unrealistic extremists who weep and wail because they see a photo of an acre or two of cleared state-owned land, unaware that foresters approve some logging to remove diseased trees or to enhance habitat.
Bruce Spencer of New Salem, now retired, is widely respected for the work he did as chief Quabbin forester. If there are problems with his successors, these can be resolved within the Commonwealth.
An assortment of social justice and peace organizations based in the Pioneer Valley have endorsed the park proposal, but what’s missing from the list is more significant. The state’s three largest environmental groups – Mass. Audubon, The Trustees, and Sierra Club are not there, nor are any of those based in the North Quabbin such as the Athol Bird & Nature Club, North Quabbin Trails Association, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and Millers River Watershed Council, nor is any town conservation commission.
I wonder how many of the people promoting the plan have been on the reservoir or its protected land, or even have visited local towns such as Athol, Orange, New Salem, Barre, Ware, Hardwick and Belchertown? Call me skeptical! I will be unable to attend the Oct. 13 event due to travel plans, but if this intrigues you, please go and send me an email with your impressions (allenyoung355@gmail.com).

This is a wonderful idea.

This is a wonderful idea.

Dorianne Almann
Hinsdale, NH

They do make a mess in there

They do make a mess in there with the way they log, and I've seen logging right next to vernal pools.

Deborah Reiter
Amherst, MA.

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