Massachusetts to Reopen Some State Land to Commercial Logging
New state land-use designations released this week by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation could change logging practices on state owned land. The new designations come after a three-year moratorium on commercial logging on state-owned lands, following concerns about clear-cutting in state forests. According to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, or DCR, before the moratorium, nearly ninety percent of state-owned land was available for commercial logging.
But now, state lands will fall under three different designations: reserves, parklands, and woodlands. Stephanie Cooper, assistant secretary of land and forest conservation at the DCR, says reserves and parklands will be off-limits to commercial logging, but woodlands, which make up forty percent of state-owned land, will not.
"Those will be areas that we will manage actively, and we will seek to demonstrate the best sustainable forest management. We will certainly be doing commercial harvesting, and...there will be a variety of recreational experiences as there have been for decades."
Cooper says that even though logging will not be permitted in reserve areas, the lands will still be closely monitored to prevent the spread of invasive species and the threat of wildfires.
"With reserves as much as possible, we will have natural processes dominate, but that is a balancing act, and we certainly will always make sure that we're ensuring public safety."
While the land designations are set, specific management plans for state-owned property must still be approved by the DCR Stewardship Council at a meeting on Friday.