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January 12, 2006

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Mike Leonard, Consulting Forester

Thanks for that great post on the best forestry organization in the country!
A forester who belongs to the Forest Guild must practice responsible forestry. I know that sounds kind of redundant. Don't all foresters practice good forestry? The answer is a resounding NO! Many foresters work for mills and/or logging companies and there primary job is to buy high quality stumpage (standing trees) at the lowest possible price without regards to the long term negative consequences of destructive logging practices like highgrading. Highgrading (also known as liquidation cutting) is the cutting of most if not all of the high quality and high value species such as red oak, sugar maple, cherry, and good white pine, while leaving the low quality and low value species such as red maple, beech, and hemlock. The result is that a diverse forest good for many wildlife species is turned into a junk forest with a diminished capacity for wildlife habitat and with its future economic value destroyed. Red maple is now dominating areas where red oak used to be prevalent much to the detriment of wildlife that depend on the mast of acorns that an oak forest provides. The 12 inch commercial diameter limit cuttings are the worst type of cutting you can do to a forest. Why would you want to liquidate an asset that is gaining in value at 10-20%/year! Would you liquidate your IRA account if it was gaining that much? Of course you wouldn't! Then why do some landowners do it? Well it's because they are talked into it by some fast talking mills and loggers. Now most loggers are good hard working people, but they just need to be guided in the right direction and that's a forester's job. Yes highgrading is even worse than clearcutting! It's easy to get addicted to a steady paycheck especially when you have a family to feed and this is why some foresters assist in this forest destruction. There is another way and that is to support our forestry reform movement which will empower private sector foresters by requiring that all Forest Cutting Plans be done by Licensed Foresters and forbidding them to file a plan that calls for a destructive highgrade cutting. The standard that defines what good forestry is also needs to be improved so that landowners will get the best possible advice and the best forestry possible for their forest land. The MA BUreau of Forestry needs to be pushed in the right direction. So write or call your State Reps and State Senators and demand that they order Chief Forester James DiMaio to enforce the existing Forest Cutting Laws and the Forester Licensing Laws in order to stop liquidation cutting on 6,000 - 10,000 acres of private forest land each year! If he refuses to do his job, we must demand that he be fired so that we can get a real Chief Forester who will support real forestry.

Mike Leonard, Consulting Forester
35 Leighton Road
Petersham, MA 01366
978-724-8822
email: mlforester@rcn.com

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