Mayor James J. Fiorentini appointed a Forest Management Committee (“FMC”) in 2009 and tasked it with developing management goals for the City’s forests. The FMC is dedicated to the healthy preservation, protection, and perpetuation of actively managed forests, with particular focus on water quality, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and renewable resources of timber through the use of proper forest stewardship.
Forests are significant, local and sustainable sources of clean air and water, wildlife habitat, beautiful landscapes, and wood products. The City has made efforts over the years to acquire such valued open space, much of which is protecting our drinking water supply. These efforts have lead to the creations of many conservation areas that provide passive recreational opportunities for our community. However, the City does not currently manage its forests. This is leading some of our forests to stand densities that do not allow sunlight to reach the forest floor to encourage new forest growth. Other concerns with unmanaged forests are excessive storm damage; increased densities that make it easier for disease or insects to invade and do serious damage to a forest; increased potential for forest fires; and the loss of forest cover due to age. Stewardship options are available that can actually improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and perpetuation of our forest lands.
Goals of Stewardship
It is important in the stewardship planning process to consider a broad range of goals that might be applicable for each given area. In some instances, leaving land alone may be the best way to conserve it. But, that is just one of many stewardship options. The importance of stewardship goals should be measured not only against one another for a given area, but also against the goals of the other forests. Each of the City’s forests will be analyzed with respect to the importance of the following goals:
- Water Quality Protection
- Biological Diversity
- Wildlife Habitat
- Recreational Access and Usage
- Scenic Beauty
- Protection of Unique and Cultural Areas
- Residential Firewood Program
- Timber Quality and Quantity
- Generation of Income
The analysis of these goals and the preparation of stewardship plans require extensive experience in the field of forest management, as well as a significant amount of time to become intimately familiar with the forested community of each individual parcel. The City has selected Gary Gouldrup of New England Forestry Consultants, Inc. to assist in the implementation of its stewardship program.
Where Are Our Forests?
At present, the City of Haverhill owns more than 1,500 acres of forested lands primarily used for passive recreation and open space and watershed protection. These lands fall under the jurisdictions of various municipal departments, such as Conservation, Water, and Parks. The FMC is pursuing the preparation of Forest Stewardship Plans, with 10-year horizons, for each of the following locations:
Crystal Shores Conservation Area
When Will We Begin?
Commencing in 2011, the goal of the FMC is to create and manage a Forest Stewardship Program that will be sustainable for future generations.
How Will We Fund the Stewardship Program?
Establishing a forest stewardship program requires funding. However, a goal of the FMC in creating an effective stewardship program is creating a self-sustaining program. Early in 2011 the Haverhill City Council voted to establish a “Municipal Open Space Management Fund” with existing and future funds collected through the Crystal Lake Special Fishing Seasons permit program. In doing so the Council conditioned that any and all proceeds drawn from the sale of timber products must be deposited into this Fund. Importantly, the Council also voted to condition that any and all expenditures from this Fund are restricted to only be used for forest management, open space management, and open space acquisition activities.
Another source of funding is the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (“DCR”) “Working Forest Initiative” that encourages landowners, including municipalities, to manage their forests to protect a healthy ecosystem and to ensure a sustainable local supply of forest products. The DCR Forest Stewardship Program provides for the reimbursement of funds expended by a landowner for the hiring of a MA-licensed professional forester, such as Gary Gouldrup and New England Forestry Consultants, Inc., to prepare a new 10-year Forest Stewardship Plan for the landowner’s forest.
An additional source of funding from DCR is the “Community Forest Stewardship Grants” program. This program is a 50-50 matching reimbursement grant program offered to municipalities that have approved Forest Stewardship Plans. This program seeks to fund projects that support sustainable forest management, such as the creation of a forest stewardship trail for the education of a community in the importance and benefits of proper forest stewardship.
Related Web Links
- Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation—Forestry Division
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
- UMass Amherst—UMass Extension MassWoods Forest Conservation Program
- Harvard University—Harvard Forest
- Massachusetts Forest Alliance
- New England Forestry Foundation
- New England Forestry Consultants, Inc.