Help Protect the Conway State Forest

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has proposed the designation of the Conway State Forest as Woodland.  Woodlands will be managed for lumber extraction.  Parklands will be managed primarily for recreation.  Reserves will be unmanaged by people.  We are interested in upgrading the designation of the Conway State Forest to preserve this important and sensitive resource.  No designation will change the existing recreation use of the land, according to the DCR, with the exception that the use of off road vehicles (not snowmobiles) may be examined in the future.  Note that the Conway Conservation is currently examining this issue.

If you agree, there is a template letter (below), which you can modify and/or sign and send to: (DCR) (Representative Stephen Kulik) (Senator Benjamin Downing) (Peter Jeswald, Chair of Conway Conservation Commission)

28 June 2011


Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114-2104


Dear Sirs/Madams,

I am writing with comments on the landscape designation process with regard to the designation of the Conway State Forest (CSF) as a Woodland.  I feel that the Conway State Forest should be changed to a Reserve or Parkland designation for the following reasons.

The Conway State Forest is a rich, diverse bio-system.  The DCR recognized this in granting a Conservation Restriction to the adjacent Deane Lee Trust, saying that the land is “an excellent wildlife habitat, […] wet meadows, and upland forest.”  Also, the CSF is part of a very large protected area consisting of the CSF, Cowls Lumber land, Town of Conway land, Northampton Water Authority Land, and State Wildlife Management land.  It makes sense to protect the heart of the large area as much as possible and manage it for biodiversity and not for economic lumber extraction reasons.  The CSF (36 /100 km2) is an important bear habitat, with even greater density than the Savoy Hawley/Mohawk Trail State Forest (29/100 km 2), parts of which have received Reserve/Parkland status. [Fuller 1993 Thesis, University of Massachusetts].

Mass DEP, using the Massachusetts Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS) as a tool to trigger detailed review under the Wetland Protection Act, has designated the CSF as a “Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance” [].  The CAPS system itself designates much of the CSF at its highest level of ecological integrity [].

Designating this area for woodland management, as opposed to habitat and water supply protection, will undermine the value of this important and unusual resource.  It makes sense to protect the heart of this large forest area as a reserve to create old growth forest.  Because of its interconnection with many other sensitive areas, including watershed protection lands for three municipalities, it is inappropriate for the woodland designation.



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