Dead branches and trees are visible in the canopy at Pine Grove Preserve in Falmouth. The town council approved spending $50,000 to remove deadwood this spring or summer. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

Safety measures are coming soon for Pine Grove Preserve in Falmouth, where falling trees and branches at the 29-acre parcel have created a hazard for trail walkers.

The Falmouth Town Council unanimously approved a forest management plan totaling $50,000 in September; the work was delayed because the contractor was unavailable when the project was approved.

Pine Grove Preserve is a popular place for Falmouth residents to walk, but dead and dying trees are creating a hazard. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

The town has hired Chaplin Logging Inc., a Naples-based logging contractor, to clean up debris and take down dying trees in late spring or summer, but could be sooner if there is a dry winter, according to Town Manager Nathan Poore. There are also plans to improve the parking area through grading and possibly adding new gravel.

The preserve, which is accessible from both Route 1 and Route 88, will be closed to the public once work begins for about three to five weeks, according to Poore.

Trees dying and falling down is just “Mother Nature doing her thing,” according to Falmouth’s town forester, Paul Larivee.

“This forest is not different than many forests in the southern part of the state. It was probably agricultural land in the later 1800s. Early 1900s, the agricultural land was abandoned and the pines grew and were left to compete with each other,” Larivee said in an informational video created by the town. “What’s happened in the past 100 to 120 years is these trees are all competing for the same sunlight. The most limiting factor in their growth is sunlight. Eventually over time, the weaker ones fall out and the stronger ones survive. The trees that are being thinned out are now falling and becoming a hazard.”

Another concern for the park is the presence of invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, buckthorn and wild rose. Spraying was done this fall, and before the tree harvest begins Larivee will identify areas that may need additional treatment.

“As the trees blow down in these larger patches, it gives invasive species in abutting parcels the opportunity to flourish,” Larivee said. “Once it’s established, it’s difficult to remove.”

Larivee also said that over time, it is likely that the pine forest will become mixed, with maple, birch and oak trees taking over as more pine trees die and are removed.

The town is working on an education and awareness campaign that will roll out in the coming weeks, Poore said. The campaign will include newsletters, fact sheets and more videos. Information on the history of the preserve was also included in the Jan. 7 edition of the Falmouth Focus newsletter.

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