At the town highway garage on Yokum Pond Road, the group met yesterday with state officials from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which has already put the job out to bid for the upcoming winter tree-cutting season. Along the road to the pond, dozens of trees are marked for removal with a blue stripe.
Residents were skeptical with state officials' assurances that the cutting plan is intended to preserve healthy trees while removing those that are vulnerable to rot, disease or other problems. They were particularly concerned, they said, that this job would not resemble another nearby clearing.
"Why did they make such a mess down the road?" one resident asked.
"That land looks like it was raped," said Carl Rosenstein, another resident. Chris Messina, a management forester for DCR who will supervise the Buckley Denton project, said that the other project had a different goal: to promote regeneration of healthy oaks. In that job, the healthy mature oaks were left standing and the undergrowth cleared to allow for seedlings to develop.
That's already happening, he noted.
The trees selected for removal around Buckley Denton are of low quality, at risk of rot and in "poor form," he said.
"There's a lot or mortality here," he said. "We came to improve the forest, take out the dead, dying, unacceptable trees." Lee Blatt, who owns a home on the pond, said the trees seem OK to him when he's "having a gin and tonic" on his deck. He said residents could raise enough money quickly to match the commercial value of the logging job. But Messina said money isn't the issue: The wood in question is of such poor quality that it will likely bring a bid of only around $3,000 from a logger, who will use it for firewood.
Rosenstein said Buckley Denton is the most pristine pond in the county and should be kept that way. He reiterated concerns about the extensive clearing down the road.
Neal Rosenstein, Carl's brother, questioned Messina on the equipment and procedures that will be used to cut wood and haul it out of the woods. Messina said that he is a tough overseer of such jobs, and that only a few loggers will work on jobs when he is in charge.
Michael Downey of DCR, who also regulates logging jobs on state property, said that those jobs are far better done than those involving private landowners seeking to maximize their revenues.
During the meeting, the state's chief forester, James DeMayo, showed up after a drive from Boston and took over a discussion he thought was contentious. After admonishing everyone to behave respectfully, he said that the state has spent "millions" to become certified as practicing forestry under strict standards.
Lynn Levine, a licensed forestry consultant and friend of the Rosensteins, said she had walked the area where logging will occur and noticed that, although the job is not essential, the only trees identified for removal are indeed sick or dying.
The logging operation will involve 17 acres on either side of the entrance to Buckley Denton Pond and another 47 acres closer to the lake itself.
Messina said no logging will be done within 100 feet of the lake shoreline.