HAVERHILL — The city's forestry experts told the City Council last night there was no choice but to cut down most hemlock trees in a 100-acre area of Winnekenni Park east of Kenoza Lake.
"In 2 to 15 years the woolly adelgids would have decimated the hemlock stand anyway," Haverhill Conservation Agent Rob Moore told councilors, referring to the tree-killing insect that feeds on hemlocks, causing needles to drop, branches to rot and trees to die.
Several resident attended last night meeting to speak against the tree-cutting project. They said they were dismayed at the extent of the work and questioned whether the cutting went too far.
"It looks real bad up there," said Andy Gonios, a former logger who spent 20 years cutting trees in New Hampshire. "They took down too many hardwood trees. It's going to take a long time to grow back."
Another Haverhill resident who frequents the park, Brian Cuscio, said he visited the forest yesterday and was disheartened by what he saw.
"I know the trees are infected," Cuscio said. "But it seems they cut too many. It looks awful. The biking and hiking trails are ruined. It's a real mess up there."
Moore said the Winnekenni trees were cut and removed by Hopkinton Forestry & Land Clearing Inc., the same company that Haverhill hired to remove trees from the Clement Farm conservation area last year.
Moore said no trees were cut down that weren't targeted for removal. The Winnekenni job is 75 percent done, but finished for the season, Moore said. The rest of the cutting, he said, will take place next winter.
The company removed the trees at no cost to the city and, in addition, paid the city $11,000 for the timber, Moore said. He said the money will go into site stabilization measures and to cover the cost of having the city's consultant, Gary Gouldrup, closely watch the operation.