HAVERHILL — The city is getting ready to roll out its forest management plan at Winnekenni Park and Plug Pond Conservation areas and is inviting the public to an informational meeting and site walk tomorrow at the castle property.
The plan includes a resident firewood program and building new interactive trails with the goal of protecting water quality, preserving scenic beauty, improving passive recreational opportunities such as hiking and biking and enhancing wildlife habitat. It also includes tree thinning and cutting to preserve the health of the city's forests surrounding Kenoza Lake and Plug Pond, along with the sale of wood that is harvested.
Robert Moore, the city's environmental health technician and chairman of the city's Forest Management Committee, said one goal of the city's forest stewardship program is to be self-sustaining, with any revenue generated going toward the city's management of its open spaces, such as trail improvements, signage and additional amenities like benches and picnic tables.
The forest management plan that will be discussed tomorrow has to be filed with the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation for approval by it's forestry division, Moore said.
The public is invited to attend the unveiling of the city's draft plan to manage woodlands surrounding Kenoza Lake and Plug Pond. The event takes place at Winnekenni Castle and starts at 9 a.m. It will begin with a brief presentation followed by questions and comments from the public.
"Then we'll head into the woods with our forestry consultant," Moore said.
The walk will begin at the castle. Those accompanying Moore can expect to spend about two hours studying the health and condition of 21 sections of the forest that have similar characteristics, such as tree species and tree age.
"While on the walk, we will continue to take questions and discuss the plan as it relates to our field observations," Moore said. "We want to show people examples of what a diseased tree looks like, what different invasive species are present and what a tree that has been damaged by fire looks like."
City Councilor William Macek introduced the topic of forestry management following a severe December winter ice storm several years ago in which trees across the city were toppled, branches and limbs fell and power lines were taken down — leaving many residents and businesses without power for days. City Councilor David Hall had also proposed a one-time program where residents could collect firewood from city trees that had fallen because of the storm.
Macek suggested the city take it a step further by creating a management committee to oversee the city's forested areas.
"The city has over 1,000 acres of woodland area and what this plan will do is allow it to be properly maintained to prevent trees from become diseased or stunted, and will also allow for the creation of more walking trails and recreation areas."
Macek said the plan also includes the select cutting of timber in areas that need to be thinned. Macek said city officials embraced the idea and last year the mayor appointed a forestry management committee headed by Moore.
"It's a positive thing and doesn't allow for the stripping of land or clear-cutting of our forests, while protecting wildlife in those areas," Macek said.
Later this year, the city will begin preparing a forest-cutting plan for the Clement Farm property, located behind the American Legion on upper Main Street. Members of the city's Forest Management Committee include Department of Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and members of his staff, former conservation officer Mark Sheehan, who coordinates the Haverhill Trails Committee, several residents and a member of the Winnekenni Foundation.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.