To: Governor Charlie Baker

Moratorium on Logging on Massachusetts State-Owned Lands

We, the undersigned, call for an immediate moratorium on logging on all Massachusetts state-owned lands, including woodlands, parklands, reserves, and watersheds managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and wildlife management areas managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, excluding the cutting of trees proven to be necessary to protect public safety. This exception does not include the cutting of trees to prevent or control disease, insect infestations, invasive species, fires, or other natural disturbances, which has not been proven to protect public safety.

State lands with current and planned logging projects include:

• Barnstable State Forest • Berkshire Road and Trail Ash Removal (extensive state forest lands in the Berkshires) • Conway State Forest • Dubuque State Forest (Hawley) • Erving State Forest • Florida State Forest • Freetown State Forest • F. Gilbert Hills State Forest (Foxboro, Wrentham) • H. O. Cook State Forest (Colrain, Heath) • J. Harry Rich State Forest (Groton) • Lindon W. Bates Memorial Park (Hancock) • Oakham State Forest • October Mountain State Forest (Becket, Pittsfield, Washington) • Otter River State Forest (Baldwinville, Templeton, Winchendon) • Peru State Forest • Pittsfield State Forest (Lanesborough, Hancock) • Sandisfield State Forest • Savoy State Forest • Shawme Crowell State Forest (Sandwich) • Shutesbury State Forest • South River State Forest (Conway) • Sudbury-Marlboro State Forest (Marlborough) • Townsend State Forest • Warwick State Forest • Wendell State Forest

• Quabbin Reservoir Watershed • Sudbury Reservoir Watershed • Wachusett Reservoir Watershed • Ware River Watershed

• State Wildlife Management Areas

Our Massachusetts forests are critical in mitigating climate change, preserving native wildlife and habitats, safeguarding soils, providing clean air and water, and offering public recreation. Logging our forests harms these values, while protecting our forests from cutting enhances them. Keeping our forests standing would allow them to absorb and store carbon at an increasing rate for centuries to come. This would complement the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Now is the time to revisit our public forest policies to ensure the greatest possible benefit for this and future generations.

Why is this important?

The October 7, 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning: To avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to take immediate action to stabilize and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This includes the preservation of standing forests, which are essential in removing and storing atmospheric carbon.

Emerging science shows that if kept intact, forests will absorb carbon at an accelerating rate as they grow older. If they are logged, most of this carbon will be released. None of Massachusetts’ state lands have guaranteed protection from logging. This includes areas classified as “parklands” and “reserves,” which can be opened to logging with a stroke of a pen by state agencies. We are asking that the approximately 650,000 acres of state land, covering 13% of the Massachusetts land base, be protected from logging and dedicated to maximizing carbon sequestration under this moratorium.

Conservation biologists call for saving 17% to 50% of the Earth to prevent massive extinction of plant and animal species. The protection of Massachusetts’ state-owned lands from logging would be a major step toward safeguarding our state’s native biodiversity.

In June 2017, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. One of the Alliance’s major objectives is to “increase carbon stored in forest ecosystems and reduce losses of already-stored carbon.”

We call on the Governor, along with state agencies, to honor this commitment and enact a moratorium on logging on state lands. Such bold leadership can inspire other states across the country to take similar action to address this vital issue.

For more information contact:
Save Massachusetts Forests

A project of:
RESTORE: The North Woods
P.O. Box 1099
Concord, MA 01742