Note that this information is provided by CT DEEP.
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Massacoe State Forest, located in Simsbury Connecticut, has seen over 100 years of sustainable forest management. It consists of two blocks, the Massacoe Block (122 acres) and the Great Pond Block (296 acres). In 2018, DEEP entered into contract W-424 for selective harvesting on the Massacoe block to create an uneven aged forest with greater vertical diversity and varied tree ages. The selected contractor for W-424 began harvesting activity on the site on June 11, 2020. On Friday, June 19, 2020 DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, DEEP Forestry Division Director Chris Martin, and other DEEP staff participated in a meeting at Massacoe State Forest with Senator Kevin Witkos, Representative John Hampton, and members of the public concerned about forest management activities occurring on the property.
During the June 19 meeting, DEEP heard many questions and concerns from meeting participants, seeking additional information and explanation for the process and management objectives and approaches being used on the site. This document provides answers to some of the questions raised at the meeting.
RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS
Q 1. What kind of interactions were there with the town, the local authorities, land trust, and members of the public as part of the process, from the management plan to the timber sale to the beginning of the harvest activity/current date?
1. The DRAFT 2014 – 2024 Massacoe State Forest Management Plan was provided to the Town of Simsbury Conservation Commission, the Simsbury Land Trust and the Friends of Goodwin group for comment and presentation during 2013. The draft plan also was reviewed with DEEP Support, DEEP Parks, Fisheries and Wildlife divisions. Comments were received from the Simsbury Land Trust and are found within Appendix C. Simsbury Land Trust Trustee Sally Rieger expressed concern for invasive buckthorn on the Great Pond dam crowding out more desirable species such as shrubby dogwoods. Reference was also made to the Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project and to concerns raised by Bill Moorhead, a consulting botanist, about rare plants along part of the shore of the pond at Great Pond. Correspondence via phone and email occurred during January 2018 with Assistant Town Manager Mike Glidden offering a presentation similar to the one conducted for forestry thinning work on the Great Pond Block and Jeff Shea with the Town Engineering Department regarding the temporary access onto West Mountain Road.
Q 2. Does the plan only cover the Great Pond Block, or does it include this area as well?
1. The 2014 – 2024 Massacoe Forest Management Plan covers both the Great Pond Block as well as the Massacoe Block along West Mountain Road as shown on the included maps within the forest management plan. All references to Stand #20 pertain to the Massacoe Block as indicated on these included maps.
Q 3. Is this activity occurring just for economic benefit?
1. No, revenue is an ancillary benefit and a byproduct of the silvicultural work prescribed. Revenue generation does not influence DEEP’s decisions regarding improved forest health recommendations within the Massacoe Forest Management Plan.
Q 4. What does DEEP do with the money from the timber sale?
1. Revenues are reinvested into the State Lands Management program, which supports State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas for development of forest management plans; boundary line marking; road, culvert, and bridge maintenance and replacement; hazard tree removal; invasive species control; and other forestry administrative costs. This authorization and purposes for this program are fully described in state statute as follows:
Sec. 23-20. Powers and duties of commissioner
(c)(2) There is established an account to be known as the “timber harvesting revolving account” which shall be a separate, nonlapsing account within the General Fund. Proceeds from the harvest of timber from state forests and state wildlife management areas shall be deposited in such account. The commissioner shall use moneys in such account for the purpose of developing forest management plans to guide the harvest of timber from state forests and state wildlife management areas and for all reasonable direct expenses relating to the administration and operation of such plans in such state forests and wildlife management areas. The commissioner may accept, on behalf of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, any gifts, donations, loans or bequests for the purposes of depositing such funds into the timber harvesting revolving account. Any such loan from a nonprofit organization qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or any subsequent corresponding internal revenue code of the United States, as amended from time to time, shall be repaid from such account not later than two years after entering such loan agreement or at a time and upon terms agreed upon by the commissioner and such nonprofit organization. The account shall not exceed one hundred thousand dollars. Any remaining proceeds shall be deposited in the General Fund.
Q 5. How much revenue is DEEP getting from this sale?
Q 6. What are the objectives of this sale?
A. To create an uneven aged forest with greater vertical diversity and varied tree ages. Removals favor scarlet and black oak, retention of red and white oak. Improved spacing and small openings will encourage red and white oak germination. There is a focused effort to reduce red maple and black birch. These tree species are non-mast producing (less food for wildlife), shorter lived, and prolific regenerating tree species that inhibit establishment of desired longer-lived mast producing species. Retention of cavity trees and, when safe, occasional dead standing trees will be incorporated to provide and enhance wildlife habitat.
Q 7. What is the net greenhouse gas impact of this activity?
A. Preserving land as forest in Connecticut and therefore preventing them from being converted to developed land is a climate solution for our state. When you keep land forested, you remove carbon from the atmosphere and prevent other land uses that could further contribute to climate emissions, which is a net positive greenhouse gas impact. DEEP is actively managing this forest to keep it healthy for wildlife and for a diversity of tree species. Doing so is part of our commitment to keep our forests growing strong. This project in Massacoe is not about promoting logging, but about managing the forest’s health. DEEP recognizes that we need to better understand how different forest health management approaches contribute to carbon emissions, and ensure our forest management policies properly incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives. DEEP is developing a carbon modeling tool with neighboring states to further support the protection of our forests. We are continuing to review the best available science on the rates of growth of trees since healthy mature trees sequester more carbon, and rapidly growing new trees may also support high rates of removing carbon from the atmosphere. We think our management approach promotes both of these outcomes for Massacoe State Forest. Going forward, these issues are also being addressed with extensive stakeholder input through the pending proceeding to develop an updated Forest Action Plan for Connecticut, and through the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3), which is developing a comprehensive climate action plan to present to Governor Lamont in 2021. The Governor’s Council on Climate Change includes a specific working group on forests. All interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate in these proceedings, and can find more information on comment and participation opportunities through the following links, for the 2020 Connecticut Forest Action Plan and the Governors Council on Climate Change.
Q 8. What is adaptive management? It is referenced in the plan, but what does it mean?
A. Adaptive forest management addresses instances when unexpected events or conditions may arise over a planning period that were unanticipated at the time of forest management plan approval. These events and or conditions may require immediate action to address forest health or public safety concerns. Examples of unanticipated events or conditions include: insect or disease outbreaks, significant tree-damaging weather events, and other events that significantly change forest health such as drought or fire.
Q 9. Where can we see the management plan?
Q 10. What is the impact of this activity on wildlife? It’s nesting season. This is a wildlife corridor. How does this improve habitat for wildlife?
A. The overall impact of this forest management activity on wildlife will be beneficial. Food resources will be increased though favoring mast producing trees; additional nesting, roosting, or sheltering habitat will be provided through the retention of snags and standing dead trees; increased vertical and structural diversity will create nesting opportunities for a greater variety of wildlife species, especially birds; and the regeneration will create an increase in vegetative and invertebrate food sources. These types of cuts regenerate quickly. This will create both near term and long term benefits to wildlife movement or corridor value.
Q 11. Was an NDDB review done? What surveys were done for the NDDB review? What was the conclusion of the NDDB review?
A. A review of the Natural Diversity Database map was completed during both development of the 2014-2024 Massacoe State Forest Management Plan and the West Mountain Road block cutting plan. No records of any state or federal listed species of plants, fish or wildlife were recorded as occurring in the area of the West Mountain Road block. Fisheries and wildlife biologists provide additional review above and beyond the NDDB geospatial review of the proposed plans and no concerns were noted for the harvest area.
Q 12. What will happen with the wood that is harvested?
A. The contractor will market various forest product to local and regional primary forest product companies. These companies produce a variety of wood-based products such as flooring, furniture and pallets. DEEP does not track where the purchased wood goes after it leaves DEEP property. Many Connecticut primary wood processors also participate in the Department of Agriculture’s Connecticut Grown Program, see CT Forestry – CT Grown Forest Products.
Q 13. Can people access the property while the cutting is occurring?
A. Yes but we ask for visitor safety they stay at least 500 feet from workers. Forest thinning is restricted to 7AM – 5PM weekdays. No work is to be performed on weekends.
Q 14. How will DEEP manage the invasive species that will come into the disturbed forest?
A. DEEP Foresters monitor forest stands to be certain that silvicultural objectives were met. If invasive plant species are detected and threaten the success of the treatment, an invasive control plan is implemented.
Q 15. The forest management plan states a questionable boundary line, where is this?
A. The questionable boundary line is located outside the work area along the old railroad right-of-way. There are approximately 20,200’ (3.8 miles) of boundary along the old railroad right-of-way within the Massacoe Block. The location of this line is unknown and will require a survey.
Q 16. Did DEEP survey for or identify any wetlands or vernal pools on the site? Some residents say they have observed those wetland features.
A. Connecticut State Lands Foresters are trained in identification of vernal pools and wetland features and map such features during preparation of each forest management plan. Vernal pools are also recorded and mapped if they are associated with rare species and key amphibian concentration areas.
Q 17. Did DEEP have anyone survey for climbing fern?
A. Climbing fern (Lygodium palmatum) was not noted as being present on the project site. Wildlife biologists specializing in habitat management are currently looking for the presence of this species. The preferred habitat for this plant is moist, peaty, acidic soils along swamp or wetland edges. Forest operations are not occurring in wetland areas.