Haverhill Conservation Department Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr.
Haverhill city councilors continue to back clearing of diseased and overgrown trees around Winnekenni Park and Kenoza Lake, and dismissed allegations of “clear cutting” and removal of healthy trees for financial reasons.
Graham Schwass, a city forestry management committee member since last April, spoke as chairman of the Green Sanctuary Committee of the Universalist Unitarian Church, Haverhill. He said he worries the committee plans to order “some healthy trees cut to make it economically viable for a lumbering company to do the cutting.”
“When I met with the mayor last spring, he assured me that cutting healthy trees would no longer be done for such financial reasons. He said the city would find the money to pay for whatever needed to be done without cutting healthy trees,” Schwass said. “Our group would hope to end the practice of cutting healthy trees to pay for a forestry cut. We would also hope no old growth pine trees or any trees in that area be cut. We would like to see a delay on the cut in the Merrill trail until the extent of the cut can be redetermined.”
Schwass also said the earlier hemlock salvage project near Winnekenni Castle made him “angry and fearful” that “the global destruction of the natural world, the vast extinction of species and habitat” was happening in Haverhill.
Haverhill Conservation Department Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr., forestry committee chair, rebutted Schwass’ claim regarding healthy trees. He said the Merrill trail has been in decline because tree growth was not controlled during the past 80 years.
“You need to thin those out to get a good healthy crop. And that’s what we should have done, perhaps in the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, over on that northern section of Merrill trail is progressively work to thin out those red and scotch pine stands and perhaps they’d look a lot better today,” Moore said.
Moore explained the earlier large tree removal program was necessitated by widespread disease in one area. “We should have taken a similar approach on the eastern side of the lake and thinned out that hemlock years ago—low level thinning to allow other trees to move in and not allow that one species to be dominant in the stand and to essentially be wiped out by one insect.”
Moore also said the latest cutting plan, including a “downsized scope near the castle,” emerged after a public site walk during December, 2014, to gauge the public’s “appetite for a second project.” The plans, he said, were “well received.”
According to Moore, the December, 2008, ice storm was the genesis of the city’s forestry management program around Kenoza Lake and other wooded areas. A management plan was approved in 2012 for storm or fire-damaged trees as well as infestation-damaged hemlocks near the lake and Winnekenni Castle. The hemlock salvage project was completed in 2014.