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Forestry plan revised

Sturbridge panel puts project on hold

Conservation Agent Erin Jacque led associated members of the Conservation Commission Joe Kowalski and Calvin Montigny on a walking tour of the section of the Leadmine Mountain conservation land last month to assess the current state of the forest. File photo. (click for larger version)
September 06, 2010
STURBRIDGE — The Conservation Commission Thursday decided to put the current Leadmine Mountain forest cutting plan on hold while they reassess the intent of the plan and begin to draft an almost entirely new one.

"It feels, to me, like we really need to take a step back from the plan as proposed," Conservation Agent Erin Jacque said at Thursday's meeting, which was a continuation of a public hearing opened July 15.

After hearing several concerns about the plan from members of the commission as well as abutters to the 80-plus acres of forest off Leadmine Road included in the first phase of an overall forest management plan governing the 900-acre Leadmine Mountain conservancy, and a rejection of the current plan by the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, co-owners of the land, Jacque invited comments from the public regarding the plan.

"The critical comments came flowing in," she said, which prompted her to tour the site with associate commission members Joe Kowalski and Calvin Montigny.

"We went out there on a couple different occasions and walked the site," Jacque said.

The idea behind the plan is to remove smaller trees in favor of large red oak, sugar maple, white pine, hemlock and cherry trees. By thinning out the under-story and leaving a healthy canopy, the forest ecology will regenerate in a more healthy state than exists now.

Jacque recommended decreasing the scale of the initial cutting operation from 83 acres to around 20, and doing the cutting in clusters rather than scattered throughout the entire forest area.

"Maybe do some patch cutting instead of going with the current plan that's out there," she said.

A walk through the forest as it stands now reveals very few trees marked by forester John Clark. Whereas common practices typically dictate marked trees are those intended for removal, in Leadmine forest, the marked trees are those intended to be left.

With so few trees marked, it appears as though loggers would essentially have their run of the forest, being able to take nearly everything they wanted to.

"Somehow the forester has the impression this is supposed to be a money making deal," said Chairman of the Conservation Commission David Barnicle.

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

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