The Schoolhouse section of October State Forest will be managed by DCR to diversify trees and repair the bridge on Schoolhouse Road.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Department of Conservation and Recreation Foresters are plotting three projects in Berkshire County to strategically manage large areas of the woods.
A 246-acre area in Sandisfield, 365 acres in Plainfield and Savoy and 300 acres on October Mountain are all eyed for forest management projects. Foresters are now putting together a "prescription" and contractors will later implement the plans.
The proposals aim to not only remove dead or dying trees posing hazards on sides of roads but also repair trails, ensure diversity tree maturity, limit the spread of diseases and invasive species and improve the overall health of the sections of forest.
In Sandisfield, the most important and notable part of the plan will be roadside cutting of trees. Forester Conrad Ohman said a particularly well known red pine stand along Route 57 will be removed. In total, more than 250 trees along bywards are expected to be removed.
"We expect there might be some push because of it is a going to be a major change," Ohman said of the roadside removal of trees.
However, Ohman said the removal will improve the aesthetics overall and improve safety. There are currently many dead or dying trees along Route 57 that could fall. Additionally, many trees in the area were damaged by the 2008 ice storm and beech and ash trees will be removed to help reduce the spread of beech bark disease and the emerald ash borer.
Other goals of that project are to increase the diversity of trees; the sale of lumber will also help provide a cost savings. A total of 246 acres in the Sandisfield State Forest — all on a parcel known as York Lake — will be picked through but not all at once. Ohman said it is easier to manage the projects if done on small-scale intervals. The project is broken into three separate areas.
On October Mountain State Forest, the School House lot is eyed for a similar strategy. But a major focus on this project is to reduce erosion near the School House Reservoir and repair the trails.
"One of the big things on this project is the bridge on School House Road," Forester Kristopher Massini said.
That bridge was destroyed but motor vehicles are going through the stream and using the trail. The trail itself will be fixed as well as the bridge — an effort thaft should keep erosion from going into the reservoir used by the town of Lee.
"Sixty acres will be actively worked on," Massini said.
A total of 20 percent of the trees in the 246 acres will be harvested every 20 years, Massini said. The harvesting of timber is included in the plan as well as a reduction in ash trees to slow the emerald ash borer.
Foresters Nicholas Anzuoni and Kristopher Massini explained their projects on Wednesday.
In an area known as Kings Corner in the Dubuque State Forest — between Routs 8A and Route 116 in Hawley, Plainfield and Savoy — 365 acres are set for management.
"We're not actually cutting 365 acres," Forester Nick Anzuoni said, adding that the plan is on a 20-year rotation.
The goal in particular is to repair and stabilize portions of existing roads — such as the well-traveled Kings Corner Road — diversify the forest's age, protect cultural resources from forest encroachment and reduce the number beech trees.
These type of projects are not new to DCR but a few years ago the organization faced controversy over their methods. The organization is now focused on engaging the public ahead of time to avoid any shock factor and explain why the trees are being removed.
"Our goal is to point out why we are doing what we're doing," said Peter Church, director of forest stewardship. "We want to make sure we reach out to people and make sure they understand."
The public outreach includes explanation of the plans. There are a total of six plans being implemented in the state. This is the second year the plans have gone through a public vetting procress but Church said the goal is to increase the number of proposals to two each year.
The current plans are available below.
Kings Corner Plans
York Lake Forest Management Plans
October Mountain - School House Road Project Plans