Letter: Falmouth undervalues forest conservation

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Falmouth’s Town Council is currently considering giving its officials broad authority to harvest trees on 1,137 acres of its forested town land over the next three decades. The parcels subject to operations would include the town forests at Community Park, Blackstrap Hill, Hadlock, North Falmouth Community Forest, Woods Road, Pine Grove, Underwood Park, and the Town Forest.

In my view, Falmouth’s open space program continues to make management decisions skewed toward biomass and wood harvesting, and fails to sufficiently recognize the conservation value of mature and late-succession forest.

If the current plan is approved, Pine Grove is scheduled to be cut heavily this winter. The reason given for harvesting on this and some other parcels is safety. No one wants anyone to get hurt, but it seems there are measures that could be more specifically designed for safety, such as selective pruning and cutting along trails and beside the parking lot, and installing signs at the trail heads.

A hearing and vote on the plan by the Town Council is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. A presentation of the plan, and good questions by councilors, can be seen on council’s web page (Nov. 14 meeting). At the least, the Town Council and public should be able to review and approve of proposed cutting operations annually. If you enjoy any of these parcels, be sure to express your view to the Town
Council beforehand or at the meeting.

Daniel Hildreth