Charles Ipcar

Charles Ipcar

I recently attended the Sept. 26 meeting of the Georgetown Conservation Commission, where attention was focused on how best to intervene in the Ipcar Preserve overlooking the harbor at Five Islands.

I must say that I was surprised that the favored option being presented by consulting forester Barrie Brusilla was to clear-cut the surviving mature spruce trees in the preserve. There certainly was very little public support voiced for that option at this well-attended meeting. It is supreme irony that the strategy being advocated to best maintain the preserve is to eliminate the mature trees.

The forester is most likely correct that harvesting the trees at this point would make the more economic sense, rather then trying to deal with the trees after they have been blown down.

Since when, however, have industrial forest practices been the policy of the commission? This is certainly not the message my father, Adolph Ipcar, presented to potential donors when he was raising private donations and grant money to preserve this majestic “open space” in the early 1970s.

If clear-cutting is to be the plan, the public can look forward to walking in a largely open field area, bordered by the remaining pine trees and young spruce trees for decades. And there is no guarantee that the mature pines would survive being blown down once the spruce trees were harvested. Nor is there any guarantee that the harvesting wouldn’t generate more erosion problems, making an impact on adjacent private homes.

There is a problem with blowdowns of mature spruce trees in the preserve. That is obvious to anyone who walks the preserve.

However, it is not at all clear how much of a problem that is. Little information was presented by the forester, in the form of maps or graphs, proving that the problem was reaching a critical level. Nor could one conclude that the problem was worse in the preserve than in other forests on Georgetown Island.

I would hope commission members request more information from the consulting forester, and get a second opinion from at least one forest ecologist, before making a final recommendation.

An alternative and more positive option would be to deal with the blow-downs on an annual basis, perhaps even organizing a public spring cleanup event. Experienced woodsmen could be invited in to demonstrate how best to deal with the blow-downs, and train a new generation of “woodsmen” in the process. We would urge that this approach be seriously considered.

The case for intervention should be based on solid facts, with the hope that the consequences would be an improvement over letting nature take its course.

It’s not clear to me and other members of my family this case has been made. We urge the commission not to be rushed to make a decision they and the public may regret for years.

CHARLES IPCAR lives in Richmond. The article also represents the views of brother Robert Ipcar; and Dahlov Ipcar, the author’s mother.


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