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Wary eye on timber


Clark: 'I learned my lesson from Cole Forest'



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New paint markings indicate which trees will be cut by Hull Forest Products in the near future. Most have blue slashes, but a few have numbers, and the marked trees represent most of those in a specific part of the watershed near Reservoir No. 4. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
April 01, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — As the blue markers and numbers go up on trees near one of the reservoirs on Breakneck Road for this year's tree cutting, town officials hope to prevent a repeat of last year's mess in Cole Forest.

Officially known as "Timber Harvest 9B," the work is being done by Hull Forest Products, a Connecticut-based firm that already owns a large part of the nearby woodland south of Mashapaug Road in Sturbridge. Hull provided the highest — $21,399 — of three bids and received the contract by a unanimous Town Council vote Monday.

"I learned my lesson from Cole Forest," said Town Manager Christopher Clark. "It was left somewhat less than pristine."

Even today, the town forest behind Oak Ridge Cemetery is littered with big piles of cut wood. Clark described its "unsightliness" as due to "some branches" (some of them big) being left behind, but the trail is sometimes blocked by nearly-whole tree trunks with decayed cores left behind when that forester (it wasn't Hull). Elsewhere, there are apparently good lengths of timber the firm never came back to claim, many small fragments and chips, and a lot of branches spilling down hillsides.

From the citizen's forum podium at Monday's Town Council meeting, James Sottile of Southbridge alleged the Cole Forest cutting "is causing a flood" and asked what role the Conservation Commission would have in the new harvest.

See Friday's Southridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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