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Managing the forest lands

July 18, 2010
There is a method to what appears to be madness.

While the Conservation Commission's willingness to hear and accommodate some neighborhood concerns regarding an impending forest cutting plan off Leadmine Road may have eased the minds of some abutters, it seems confusion remains among residents as to how thinning out a section of forest is really in the best interest of the land.

The cutting, which has not been formally approved by the town, is part of an overall forest management plan for the nearly 1,000-acre Leadmine Mountain conservation area. The first phase is slated for an 80-plus acre section of forest to erradicate much of its under-story and ailing big trees to allow the healthiest trees to thrive and regenerate.

While such a plan is required per order of the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, to those not familiar with natural processes, though, the idea of cutting trees in order to save a forest makes little sense.

"It's kind of counterintuitive," said tree farmer John Freeman of Brimfield. "A lot of people don't believe it when you tell them."

Freeman and his family manage more than 250 acres of forest on what was once Elliot's 1,000 acres, an historic American Indian prayer village, as well as hundreds of acres of satellite forest around the area.

In 1997, the Freemans were named Tree Farmers of the Year by the Massachusetts Forest Landowners Association.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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