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Forest Summit Lecture Series to take place in Holyoke Oct. 13, 14

HOLYOKE Although today the Massachusetts landscape is 66 percent forested, it was not always so. In the 1850s, up to 75 percent of the Massachusetts countryside was cleared of its forests. Before that, 85-90 percentof the landscape was forested.

Is the re-grown forest equal to the original? How should we treat it now that much of the abandoned farmland has reverted to second growth forest of harvestable age? How much should be managed for forest products and how much should be preserved for ecological, historic, and aesthetic reasons?

How healthy are our forests and how will they change given the effects of alien species introduction, acid rain, and global warming?

These questions, which are being debated by many different groups in Massachusetts, are the focus of the Forest Summit Lecture Series, Forest Visions, to be held on Oct. 13 and 14 at Holyoke Community College. All sessions are free and open to the public.

HCC professor Gary Beluzo, Environmental Science, and Robert Leverett, executive director of the Eastern Native Tree Society (ENTS) and adjunct professor of Computer Science at HCC are the primary architects of the series, now in its third year. "Forest Visions focuses on the forest management/preservation dilemma from diverse viewpoints and seeks to clarify the positions of the various forest stakeholders in Massachusetts," they said. "The stakes are high as various groups interpret today's forested landscape in radically different ways."

Forest Visions comprises three sessions: Thursday, Oct. 13, 1 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Oct. 14, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday's presentations will be held in the Leslie Phillips Forum, Fine and Performing Arts Building (C Building), and Friday's in the cafeteria, Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Avenue, Holyoke. Visitor parking is available in lot F. Lot G is reserved for parking for disabled individuals.

Oct. 13 sessions include:

Keynote Speaker Dr. David Foster, director of Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA, presenting "Massachusetts Forests of the Future"

Jim DiMaio, chief forester of Massachusetts, presenting "DCR-Creating the Landscape for the Forests of the Future" with information about proposed forest preserves promoted by the Commonwealth

Bruce Spencer, professional forester who manages the Quabbin Reservoir forest, presenting "Forest Priorities and Practices" and how forests across the landscape can be better managed.

Dr. Taber Allison, of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, presenting "An Environmental Organization Leader's View of Forest Health"

Erhard Frost, Forest Stewards Guild member and consulting forester, presenting "A Practical View of Forest Issues, Priorities, and Practices," considered a kind of litmus test of how different forest stakeholders impact the forest.

Organizers hope to include a presentation about the Native American perspective of forests, "The Native American Connection to our Forests."

Oct. 14 sessions present the views of prominent forest scientists about the health of existing forests and celebrate the great forests of the Eastern United States, including the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, and several old growth forests in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Speakers and topics include:

Dr. David Foster, moving from forest visionary to forest scientist, will discuss the kinds of scientific breakthroughs needed for visions to become realities.

Dr. Lee Frelich, from the University of Minnesota, one of the world's most cited forest ecologists, will discuss what science has discovered about our forests.

Dr. Tom Diggins, from Youngstown University in Ohio, will give an update on one of the most unique old growth forests in the Northeast, highlighting the difference between what we think we know about old growth forests and the reality.

Tony D'Amato, University of Massachusetts graduate student doing research in the old growth forests of Massachusetts, will present his findings to date.

Will Blozan, who has been featured in National Geographic for his explorations into the high canopies of Eastern U.S. forests, will conclude with "An Inspiring View of the Eastern Forests."

For a complete schedule, visit the Forest Summit website linked from The Forest Summit Lecture Series is sponsored by HCC, ENTS, the Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the Forest Stewards Guild. For more information, contact Gary A. Beluzo (413) 552-2445; or Robert T. Leverett (413) 538-8631; or visit