Friday, August 12, 2011

W.D.Cowls to Commissioner - Massachusetts Shutting Down State's Forest-Based Economy!

Letter to Commissioner - Massachusetts Shutting Down State's Forest-Based Economy!
Cinda Jones

NOTE: The following letter by Cinda Jones, president of the 9th generation Amherst, MA based W.D. Cowls, Inc. Land Company was sent to DCR Commissioner Lambert prior to the issuing of final "Landscape Designations" for state lands as part of  the Massachusetts Forest Visioning Process. Instructions for submitting comments are posted below the letter.
August 12, 2011 

Commissioner Ed Lambert 
Department of Conservation and Recreation 
251 Causeway Street, Suite 900 
Boston, MA 02114-2104 

Dear Commissioner Lambert: 

It was no big surprise to me when I learned that those overseeing your Forest Visioning process haven’t received many comments on DCR’s Landscape Designations from the people who make their living off the land in Massachusetts. Educated professionals who know what’s best for healthy forests, wildlife habitat, and the economy haven’t bothered to register comments because their input doesn’t seem to matter anymore. We’re exhausted and we’ve lost our will to fight what appears inevitable. 

1978 Cowls ad
In the past 10 years, Massachusetts has gone from a state that supports local agriculture, to one that’s literally and absolutely shutting down the state’s forest-based economy. 

As a representative on the board of a national land policy organization, the Forest Landowners Association, I can tell you that MA is well known nationally (and is actually laughed at and cringed at) for its exceptionally bad environmental and economic forest policy. 

Here are specific examples of why: 
- The state wants wildlife habitat and incentivizes and awards landowners who provide it, but DCR refuses to manage its own property for sufficient wildlife habitat benefit, so all you’ve encouraged and achieved on private land is significantly diminished without connectivity; 

Cowls horse drawn logging days
- The state wants local agricultural products and self-sufficiency, but DCR is putting loggers out of work, and sending them to other states that provide jobs; 

- MA is the only state that can’t figure out how to make good money managing forests; 

- MA has enormous goals of land preservation via Ch61 working forests, but environmental regulations make it easier to subdivide and develop a parcel than to harvest timber on it these days; 

- The state is promoting land conservation and state purchases of Conservation Restrictions, which landowners like Cowls support, but private landowners are taking an enormous gamble if they’re going to sell rights to do anything but forestry. With the direction DCR is taking, it looks like forestry isn’t much going to be allowed in the future, even on private land; 

- In the past decade what’s now EOEEA has changed the “Department of Environmental Management” to the “Department of Conservation and Recreation” and has let go of its “Chief Forester” and recently hired in his place a “Director of Forest Stewardship” who’s a really nice guy, but whose background is parks and recreation - with zero in the way of forestry; 

Evan and Cinda Jones
- In the past 10 years DCR managed a major radical compromise between environmental organizations and industry to Manage 80% of public land and Preserve 20%. Then before Bob Durand’s ink was dry and this new policy was implemented, DCR started a whole new expensive visioning process that is now designed to take 2/3 all state land out of productivity and revenue potential. Land use advocates feel whiplashed. People who participated in both consecutive Visionings are incredulous; 

- Over the past five years, EOEEA has made forest policy decisions based more on the vocal emotional demands of radical activists than on the rational assessments of their own and outside environmental professionals; 

- EOEEA has hobbled both the development alternative sustainable energy, and the reputation of MA as a good place for business investment, most significantly by years ago offering incentives for biomass power investments, and after billions of private dollars were spent, pulling the deal; 

- DCR doesn’t treat its employees with sufficient respect. It has not backed its harassed and abused state environmental management employees nor does it listen to expert staff scientist situation analyses or scientifically-based recommendations for natural resource management direction. 

The most recent example of why MA has the reputation of having backward environmental policy is that DCR’s Landscape Designations are not based on science or economics or anything but the loudest activists’ uneducated emotional opinions. As a result of these preservation-driven new designations: 

- Fish and wildlife habitat are going to suffer; 
- Private land near your most strict designations will be downzoned or taken for preservation; 
- Economics will fail further in this state as a result of DCR’s non-land use policies. 

Jonathan Cowls b. 1781
Cowls owns 610 acres of timberland abutting your proposed reserves in the towns of Colrain, Chesterfield, Gill, Warwick, and Wendell. We have additional acres that abut parklands that we’re also not too happy about. DCR internal maps used to show donuts around your reserves and parks, 
indicating abutting land you’re intending to acquire over time, which would include our acres that we’re not interested in parting with. 

I anticipate a huge loss of economic potential on our timberland that abuts your reserves and parks. Precedents prove that downzoning, if not out-right takings will occur. Zoning will be passed locally and regionally to preserve our property (against potential use – including potentially even forestry) without compensating us for our loss. 

1887 Sarah Cowls Jones
I resent the state impacting our working forests and property potential in this way. It’s wrong. 

I hope my letter has made it more clear to you why DCR is not getting many comments from scientists and land managers. We’ve given up seeing value in participating in DCR’s endless and increasingly preservationist process. 

Ian Bowles (though a really lovely person who achieved impressive things with solar and wind power) admitted to having an environmental preservation agenda and wanting to leave this legacy. The direction that his agenda-driven Forest Visioning took EEOEA has harmed Massachusetts’ economy, its forest health, and the sustainability of wildlife within and beyond state borders. 

You don’t have to continue down this unproductive path. 

You have the power to create healthy forests, excellent wildlife habitat and to improve Massachusetts’ citizens’ economic position in the world. 

Please leverage your position as the head of DCR to make positive change. Don’t let emotion win over science. That’s not the kind of legacy we should leave. 

Thank you for your consideration of my bold request. 

Cinda Jones 

9th Generation and President 

P.S.:  Please move Private Forestry to EEOEA’s Department of Agriculture where they understand private working land issues best.


CC: cjones
Subject: Forest Visions comment...
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 09:57:58 -0400

Dear Forest Visioning Committee,

After reading Cinda Jone's letter to Commissioner Lambert regarding the proposed Massachusetts forest designations resulting from the forest visioning process, I felt compelled to write to the Forest Visioning panel.  Many of the points she has raised come from the heart and from someone who, through vast knowledge past down from generation after generation - truly cares about the land she and her family has made an honest living from.  But most importantly, Cinda has conveyed an important message that we as a society must allow participation in the working of the natural lands around us if we are to thrive here in rural Massachusetts for the long term.  Massachusetts stands to lose local generations of hands-on, working knowledge that can't be retrieved, ever.  There is obviously a delicate balance between land to be preserved and land to be managed for timber and/or wildlife.  With that said, we must remember that much of our abundant wildlife and timber on today's landscape is due to yester-years practices and management - not land set aside as "forever wild".  Losing people like Cinda Jones as an advocate for sound timber and forest management in a state that is regulating heavily towards preservation will be the true tragedy here if the so-called "environmentalist" get there way.

There is no doubt state oversight is critical when it comes to the harvesting of timber (on DCR land or otherwise) to minimize the affects of a small minority of unscrupulous logger's activities, which were so vividly highlighted by the "preservation" proponents in recent years, in the media.  I urge you to consider what's truly at stake here when making decisions that will affect generations of families and our natural landscape for 100 years and beyond.  I ask you to please base your decisions on real, tangible facts from people who actually know something about this complicated undertaking, opposed to being influenced by twisted half truths and emotional pleas from less than knowledgeable individuals.  You have an unique opportunity to create a win-win here if the right balance is struck.  I trust that the system will prevail in way that strikes this sensible balance between the needs of few and the wants of many.  Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Herb Bergquist
54 Brown Hill Road
Worthington, MA 01098


I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time you spent with us this spring at our public meetings on DCR’s tentative Landscape Designations, which are being made in response to recommendations from the Forest Futures Visioning Process. We recognize that the time you gave us to us, sharing your thoughts and listening to our reports, is both limited and important.

We received great comments at those meetings, and as people are digesting the information they are responding here at If you haven’t had the chance and would like to comment, we welcome you to do so until August 26, 2011. Please consider reviewing the material posted on our website to help inform and focus your comments. A great deal of information has been organized there regarding the Landscape Designation process including:
·         Management Guidelines and Selection Criteria (Draft) - this document defines the three landscape designations and identifies characteristics and management approaches for each one.
·         Listing of DCR Properties with the acreage of their proposed landscape designations
·         Guide to the GIS Modeling Process
·         Results from the Reserves Model, the Woodlands Model, and the Parklands Model for intensive uses/trails and housing density (map books)
·         An ELU Map Book that shows how properties were grouped together for the analysis
·         Anticipated Questions (FAQs)
·         The Slideshow from the spring public meetings

You can access all of these and more at All comments will be reviewed and considered, and all comments submitted directly to this address will be posted online at the Landscape Designations page. 

Thank you again for your time!

Tim Rayworth
Internal Working Group for the Landscape Designation Process
MA Department on Conservation and Recreation

NOTE: EOEEA stands for Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs


  1. Tim,

    This Visioning Process effectively removes any possibility of Massachusetts being self sustaining, becoming a land of rich timber resources while importing all of it's lumber needs. The following components of this plan:

    "Wetlands and vernal pools
    Trail buffers
    Steep Slopes
    Sensitive Historical Sites
    Rare Species Habitat
    Old Growth Forests
    Riparian Areas
    Rare Plant Communities"
    once applied fully to private forest cutting practices, aside from state lands will effectively eliminate forestry in this state. The Natural Heritage monster alone has sent private forestry operations into retirement. Apply all the polygons of the above list onto any potential forestry cutting plan map and you will see that the state has effectively removed any hope of a vital self sufficient forestry industry here. This visioning process has served it's intended function, the voice of the radical armchair environmentalist has been heard and appeased.