Massachusetts: Clearcutting Correllus State Forest for good forest health

Another article about this forest, I mean clearcut, can be found here: http://bit.ly/nCsb

It might seem incongruous, but a high-tech logging operation was under
way in the middle of the 5,100-acre Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
To comprehend the reason for clear-cutting in a state forest, one only
had to take in the wider view. Even in winter, the blight that had
infected 300 acres of red pine in the forest was apparent. Stands of
denuded red pines punctured the sky like skeletal white spikes. Along
large sections of foot paths and bike trails, ghost forests have
replaced the familiar site of evergreens swaying above a
pine-needle-carpeted forest floor. It’s not exactly what hikers and
bicyclists want to see.

Beginning this winter, and continuing through
next year, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation is
spending $240,000 to cut down the pines in the state forest that have
been killed by an air-borne fungus known as Diplodia pinea. “We’ve
been dealing with it, off and on, for years,” explained Charlie
Burnham, program supervisor for forest health at the state Department
of Conservation and Recreation. Red pine, which thrives in parts of
Canada, the Midwest and in Western Massachusetts, is not a native
species to eastern Massachusetts. Massachusetts Civilian Conservation
Corps planted large tracts of red pine in the Correllus state forest
in the 1930s through the 1960s. As many as 1,200 red pines per acre
were planted, said Varkonda. Red pine creates a beautiful forest, with
trees rising up to 90 feet. The dense canopy blocks out sunlight,
limiting the growth of shrubs, making for a clean forest floor. Also
known as Norway pine, it is a moderately hard wood used for poles,
lumber, cabin logs, railway ties, pulp and fuel. Varkonda said the
early planters envisioned the red pine forest as a lumber supply for
building on the island, although that didn’t pan out. The fungus is
airborne and naturally existing, and attacks new growth on the trees.
Needles start to brown and twigs curl into a distinctive shepherd’s
crook.

Fungus thrives in moist conditions, and damp years hasten the
death of the tree. It can take anywhere from three to 10 years to kill
the tree. Older trees are more susceptible, said Burnham, for the same
reason that older adult humans are more vulnerable to disease. But red
pine in eastern Massachusetts is more vulnerable because it is outside
its native area. The problem is more noticeable in planted forests
because the trees are all the same age and species. “You want a
diverse forest rather than one species to eliminate losing the whole
thing,” Burnham said. DCR hopes native species like scrub oak and
pitch pine will reassert themselves in cleared areas. R.J. Cobb Land
Clearing Inc. of Bellingham was awarded the contract, which was funded
through a U.S. Forest Service grant. It’s part of a three-year,
237-acre “emergency ecological restoration project.” R.J. Cobb will
clear 110 acres this year, and another 117 acres in the next two
years. http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090125/NEWS/901250327/-1/NEWSMAP

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