Falmouth is about to consider a significant management change to 758 acres of its publicly owned forest land: to authorize forestry operations on an ongoing basis. The parcels affected would be Blackstrap Hill, Hadlock, Woods Road, the Nature Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, Falmouth Community Park, Pine Grove and the Town Forest.
I recognize that a significant amount of work has gone into this plan. However I am concerned that the scale of the authorized operations and the objective of generating income have the potential to detract from what I regard as the primary purposes of this land: conservation and outdoor recreation.
The Forest Management Plan and the Implementation Strategy equate a commercially healthy forest with an ecologically healthy forest. They are not the same thing. There are ecological (and aesthetic) benefits provided by mature and late-succession forests that aren’t present on land harvested on a regular basis. Research by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences shows that more than 100 species are reliant on late-succession forest, and that this habitat is scarce and in decline in Maine. Land managed for forestry, on the other hand, is plentiful.
The plan will be presented to the Town Council on Aug. 10, and a hearing is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24. I encourage all who enjoy using these lands to learn more about the plan and express your views to the Town Council.