Massachusetts Wood Producers Petition EOEEA Secretary Sullivan on Clean-Up of Damaged State Forest and Parklands
|Jeff Poirier presiding over MWPA board meeting|
The Massachusetts Wood Producers Association has contacted Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan urging him to open the bidding process on thousands of acres of state-owned forestlands that were seriously impacted by the October 29-30 snowstorm, Hurricane Irene and the June 1 tornado so that forest stewardship salvage and forest restoration operations can begin as soon as possible.
Speaking on behalf of the Massachusetts Wood Producers Association, president Jeff Poirier stated, “To date, the bulk of the clean-up operations have focused on roadsides, streams, power line right of ways and those sections of state parks where there is a concern for public safety. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has not responded to their forest stewardship responsibility to salvage forest products or conduct meaningful forest restoration.”
“Beside the opportunity to remove forest products for public use as a result of the catastrophic storms, accumulated dead and damaged trees provide fuel that increases wild fire risk. Meanwhile, aesthetics have deteriorated, ecosystem services have been diminished, and benefits to local economies - harvesting operations that would have created local rural jobs, associated local services and revenue to the towns from the Forest Products Trust Funds - have not been realized,” Poirier stressed. “In short, thousands of acres of off-road, interior damage remain at a time when impacted cites and towns are most in need of the added revenue salvage operations would bring as well as the clean up essential for tourist recreational activities.”
“As you are aware, the forest and wood products industry has been significantly impacted by the downturn in the economy and burdened by the administration’s moratorium on forest stewardship on properties the Department of Conservation and Recreation manages, including the Quabbin Reservoir Watershed and other Water Supply Protection forestlands. The Massachusetts Wood Producers Association is very concerned that as months pass by without initiating a serious forest restoration effort, the opportunity to salvage forest products economically is decreasing dramatically due to forest insects, diseases, and reduced quality,” he continued.
“This economic value and the benefits of utilizing local forest products salvaged from the storms from the state’s extensive forest landholdings are assets that the Commonwealth should not take for granted or squander. Furthermore, paying tree service companies to remove forest products is an irresponsible and unnecessary use of taxpayers' dollars that could be rectified by changes in the legislation or policy for storm damage and clean up bidding and contracting,” Poirier said. “This is a great opportunity for the public to experience and appreciate the value and skill of our forest-based economy, significantly damaged by the recent turmoil and visioning process.”
The Massachusetts Wood Producers Association also requested that the Emergency Certification, which ends on January 30, 2012, be extended until the clean-up is completed..
PHOTO CREDIT: Genevieve Fraser