Falmouth’s Town Council is considering approval of a major tree-cutting and removal operation in the Pine Grove preserve. The town’s forester has recommended a cut of more than “50-60% of the current white pine.” Most of the currently downed and decaying logs would be removed as well. The rationale is to reduce danger from falling trees or limbs and from fire.

Because Pine Grove has been undisturbed for longer than most of Falmouth’s other conservation land, it is in the process of acquiring characteristics of a late-succession forest. It has a relatively rich plant understory, and its structure of mature trees, snags and downed logs supports a diversity of microbes, fungal networks and insects which, in turn, support larger wildlife, especially birds that rely on mature forest for breeding habitat. 

Unfortunately, the large-scale removal of trees and logs under consideration will undermine the ecological health of Pine Grove for decades. It seems to me that safety could be achieved through a smaller-scale cut that leaves some downed logs onsite and through other measures, such as better signage and closure of a few of the many trails.

For more information, go to the Town Council’s web page and look for the council’s Aug. 23 meeting, item 12. The council will be taking public comments on the issue at its meeting on the evening of Sept. 13. If you enjoy walking in Pine Grove, please express your views to the Town Council before the 13th or at the meeting.

Daniel Hildreth

Falmouth

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