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Lunenburg Residents Speak Out Against Logging Plan

October 11, 2018

Lunenburg residents have spoken out against logging plans in Small Town Forest. This area has already been selectively harvested of timber. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE FILE PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LUNENBURG -- Board of Selectmen Chair Jamie Toale credited residents for voicing concerns and urging the Conservation Commission to take another look at a proposed timber harvesting plan at the Robbs Hill Conservation Area.

“I do believe that the passion in this room tonight rises up when people pay attention to what’s going on,” he told those in attendance at a Tuesday board meeting. “It really does.”

Robbs Hill, which is part of 375 acres of forest, is the second town conservation area expected to undergo selective logging through a forest stewardship plan.

The Conservation Commission pledged last week to spend more time on the plan and not approve cutting for at least a year. It will also host a walk of areas where cutting took place five to 10 years ago and a public forum to talk about forest management.

Gary Gouldrup, of New England Forestry Consultants, presented a plan to the commission in September that proposed removing between a quarter to a third of of trees to make room for younger ones and improve the forest’s diversity.

Residents attended several commission meetings before coming to the Board of Selectmen.

On Tuesday, several voiced concerns about the impact logging would have on recreational use and wildlife at Robbs Hill.

Laura Boussom, who lives on Robbs Hill Road, helped collect 99 signatures for a petition against cutting in the area. She said the commission has a copy and gave one to the board.

Selectman Katey Adams said it seems like there has been “two sides of facts” during discussion about the forest plans. What is considered conservation and forest management can be a matter of interpretation, she said.

“I think what is most important is what conservation means to people,” Adams said. “And even if forestry is the right answer for the forest, it might not be the right answer for the people that use it.”

The town should also talk about the other proposed management plans, she said, referring to the Large Town Forest, Cowdery Nature Center and the Lane Property.

Board Vice Chair Bob Ebersole, who uses trails in town, said he is not happy about the way the Small Town Forest turned out, but also agrees there should be some level of forest management.

Logging at that forest was completed at the beginning of the year.

He wants to see how the Conservation Commission reevaluates the Robbs Hill plan and hopes that the open workshop it proposed involves dialogue.

In response to a question about how much money the town received from logging at the Small Town Forest, Selectman Damon McQuaid said that isn’t the motivation behind forest management.

“I agree, we have to look into why it went so poorly, but know the reason that they pursue forest management is not to make money,” he said. “It’s about doing what is best for the forest.”

Another topic that residents talked about was an editorial published in the Sentinel & Enterprise Monday that stated the delay for the forestry plan “should be temporary at best.” Selectman Phyllis Luck read it into the record at the beginning of discussion.

The editorial was written in response to a Sunday news article about some residents’ concerns and the commission’s decision to delay cutting plans at Robbs Hill.

Bruce Man, who lives on Burrage Street, passed out photographs of cutting at the Small Town Forest and said called the editorial “one-sided” because it made it seem like their opinions don’t matter.

“We would like to have more time to work collaboratively,” he said. “We want to go out and educate ourselves. ... We would really like a voice in this.”

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

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