Moore said these 50 acres are very densely populated with hemlock and the plan calls for the removal of a little over half the basal area across the 50 acres, as well as other poor quality trees that pose a hazard to the public and are within the fall zone of walking paths in the park. The basal area is basically the area covered by tree trunks.
Those interested in learning about how the project came to be can view a short video at www.ci.haverhill.ma.us/departments/forest_stewardship/media.php.
Gonios said he wants to know what the city will do to restore the land once the work is complete. He is particularly concerned with the “skidder trails” that were created so that heavy equipment, called a “skidder,” can pull cut trees from the forest to the landing area for processing.
Moore said the forester (the city’s consultant) lays out trails for the skidder to use so that they don’t just drag cut trees all over the place. He said these paths are typically blended back into the landscape following the completion of work. Without the hemlock, trees such as black birch, maple, oak and pine will naturally reseed the area, Moore said.
Another area Gonios is concerned with is what city officials call the “landing,” a hill with a flat area about 375 feet south of Kenoza Street opposite the rear easterly most entrance to Northern Essex. The site is being used as a base of operations for the tree cutting.
Moore said the plan is to loom and seed the area with a conservation mix that will provide a pocket of habitat for animals such as rabbits.
Councilor Thomas Sullivan, a park neighbor and longtime member of the Winnekenni Foundation, said the city had no choice but to cut acres of dead hemlocks as they were becoming a fire hazard and public safety problem because they were falling down.
Sullivan said he was just as shocked the first time he saw how many trees had been cut down and suggested that the people who are upset now will be happy with how the forest will look in 15 years.
Gonios, of Groveland Street, disagreed with Sullivan.
“It will take a lot longer than that,” he said.