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January 15, 2006


Tim Abbott

Mike, I appreciate your comments and could not agree more that revenue earned on public lands should support their stewardship. Too often, as is the case in Massachusetts, it disappears into the general fund, while all the while the condition of lands held in public trust deteriorates. Money alone will not address that issue - a massive change mainstream forestry itself is needed as well as the bureaucracy that regulates it - but chronic underfunding when, as you say, some of our public lands have the capacity to support their maintenance needs through appropriately sited and conducted silvicultural activities is really disgraceful.

You appear to be suggesting certain criteria for salvage logging on public lands after extreme disturbance events and I'd like to hear more from you on that point. It sounds like you recognize the risk of further forest fragmentation from adding new access roads and skid trails. What other considerations would you want to see as part of salvage logging on public lands, or do you consider it good ecological as well as economic sense without further qualification?

Finally, your point that good forestry should not be restricted from all public lands is right on target. My concerns about salvage logging in the Northeast mostly pertain to the state of mainstream forestry, and its impacts on those areas set aside as ecological reserves, where presumeably even massive wind events can be absorbed as part of a healthy, diverse and older growth forest system. In Massachusetts, the proposed state forest reserves, large and small, are not more than 20% of the total 500,000 acres enrolled in FSC certification. That leaves an awful large amount of forest land available for ecologically appropriate and economically beneficial forestry, if the Commonwealth has the will to ensure that this kind of timber operation, and none other, prevails. Do you see any sign of bold forestry leadership on this point at present outside the Forest Guild and a few, exceptional stewards?

My thanks for your taking the time to respond, Mike, and let's keep the ideas coming.

Mike Leonard, Consulting Forester

If there is an existing infrastructure of forest access roads, there is nothing wrong with salvage logging. If the blowdowns are massive, salvage can help facilitate forest regeneration as well recover the economic value of the high value timber that has blown over. Revenue earned from salvage operations can pay for other forest management activities on public lands such as trail building. By restricting timber harvesting and good forestry on public lands, we are "exporting" environmental problems to countries that we import wood from and have little or nonexisting forest cutting regulations.

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