| The Friends of Robinson State Park (FORSP) wish to provide an update regarding the logging controversy at the park in Agawam.
Contracts for two state timber sales involving red pine plantations and separate hardwood sections, signed in June 2006, without the required site-specific management plan and without public input, were due to be implemented in November 2006. These contracts were put on a one-year delay for many reasons, including:
Concerns about inadequate protection of natural resources such as (but not limited to)
vernal pools, wetlands and Westfield River bank buffer zones.
Discrepancies between the way the proposal was presented to abutters and the actual plan.
Changes in reasons given to justify the sales
Failure to properly allow for the recreational uses of the land
Serious questions about the aesthetic ramifications of the plan.
Every one of these concerns remains today.
In May 2007, the most dangerous and unsightly red pines at the park entrance were carefully removed to answer maintenance and safety concerns. Whether more of the dead and dying red pines should be thinned or removed is under consideration.
In March 2007, the FORSP met with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to form a plan to separate the proposal for the red pine area from the proposal for the hardwood area. The FORSP support only limited removal of dead and dying red pines. We do not support removal of 360,000 board feet of marketable wood from the park. We contend that the hardwood area of the park should "be preserved in its natural state" (MGL 132A, section 2B). We have received no update from DCR on their progress to separate these proposals. We have every hope that with the leadership of the new DCR Commissioner, Richard Sullivan, these issues will be settled very soon. Almost a year has passed without a resolution.
It is our understanding that when Massachusetts became "Green Certified" by the Forest Stewardship Council in 2004, provisions were made to have the program apply only to public lands outside of Route #128. Whether these remaining lands are parks or forests, under green certification 80% of them will be actively harvested, while 20% will be chosen as reserves where no commercial harvesting will take place. The FORSP feel that parks should be separated from forests into a category of their own and taken out of green certification. The FORSP are opposed to sustainable harvesting in recreational parks. We have made it very clear that we are not opposed to sustainable harvesting in rural forests.
Robinson is an urban park with abundant natural biodiversity. Urban parks in the Metropolitan Boston area (inside Route 128) are not used for sustainable harvesting. We expect the same protection for RSP and other urban parks outside of Route 128. These parks provide essential recreational, educational, social, spiritual and aesthetic values for our residents and visitors.
We thank everyone who has helped to protect Robinson State Park. Please visit our website at www.friendsofrobinsonstatepark.org.
Friends of Robinson State Park