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DCR Chief of Staff Stephanie Coopers leads a breakout group of citizens to review new guidelines for state land.

DCR Revises Forest Land Use And Management

Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
10:07AM / Sunday, November 21, 2010
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DCR State Lands Manager Bob O'Connor writes down community suggestions for state land use and management.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Department of Conservation and Recreation asked area residents and loggers on Thursday night to help define uses of the state's wilderness.

With massive tracts of DCR land in the October Mountain and Savoy state forests recently ravaged by clear-cutting, some residents are keeping a close eye on the department's yearlong Forest Futures Visioning Process.

"We are really about reaching out and having discussions on the ground floor," DCR Chief of Staff Stephanie Cooper said. "Whenever you walk a line down the middle, you won't make everybody happy but I'm hoping everybody can agree that it's fair."

The process, which began in April with the completion of the yearlong Forest Futures Visioning Process, seeks to rework how state forest lands are being used and managed after an outcry over logging practices, some of which were documented here.

Earlier this year, the state halted cutting in Quabbin Reservoir and other watershed forests.

Experts and shareholders started with recommendations that includes quadrupling the amount of land off limits to logging up to 60 percent of the state's 308,000 acres, a large portion of which is located in Berkshire County.

With the recommendations, DCR is hosting a series of public hearings and is accepting input until Jan. 14, 2011. The draft proposes that land will be separated into three classifications — parkland, woodlands and reserves.

DCR is recommending that 90,000 to 120,000 acres be designated as reserves that would not allow off-road vehicles, logging, new roads, communication towers or windmills and where natural processes would dominate. Parklands is targeted for 70,000 to 90,000 acres to for public usage. Parklands allow for new roads, facilities, signage and transmission lines and could host communication towers or windmills. The remaining 100,000 to 150,000 acres would be woodlands that allow logging, off-road vehicles, communication towers and windmills.

"One thing that came out loud and clear in the process is that aesthetics are important," DCR Preservation Planner Jessica Rowcroft said.

About 40 people attended the public meeting at the Berkshire Athenaeum to review the designations and proposed management guidelines. DCR will host four more public hearings in the state and finalize the guidelines in the winter.

"Next spring we'll be coming out to the public in another road show if you will, to show you the next drafts," Rowcroft said.

Once those are approved, DCR will then focus on placing those designations on specific plots of land. Cooper said with properties being able to host multiple types of land the next step will be trickier.

"Once we set criteria then we can map land and create a draft map that we'll come back with," Cooper said. "We certainly know there is a lot more fine planning left."

Comments can be sent until Jan. 14, 2011, to designation.comments@state.ma.us or DCR Landscape Designation Comments, 251 Causeway St, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114
Mass DCR Forest Management Guidelines
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