By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The public encouraged to attend a meeting on Saturday to learn about the city’s plans to cut down trees in the Winnekenni Park Conservation Area.
As part of the Haverhill’s forest management plan, timber harvesting is being planned for a section of the conservation area this winter. Officials said the plan involves cutting down mostly large, mature hemlocks that are infested with the hemlock woolly adelgid — a tree-killing insect.
The city’s Forest Management Committee will discuss the plan during a public meeting at 9 a.m. at Winnekenni Castle. The meeting will include a site walk and a discussion of the management of the property and a review of the areas proposed for harvesting this winter.
“This initiative gives us many positive outcomes,” Mayor James Fiorentini said. “It creates an educational element, ensures our water quality and protects other trees from infection from tree killing insects.”
This summer, the city kicked off its forest management plan at Clement Farm on upper Main Street, where a company used heavy equipment to thin out the forest to make it healthier. City officials said the company took most of the trees it harvested in trade for doing the work and paid the city about $11,000.
And as part of the plan, the city sold some of the harvested trees to residents for firewood through a bidding process that took place at the Highway Department on Primrose Street.
Robert Moore Jr., an environmental health technician with the city, said the goals of the city’s forest management plan include creating an educational forest stewardship trail, protecting water quality and preserving scenic beauty, as well as improving passive recreational opportunities and enhancing wildlife habitat.
The Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Ecological Extension Service has been hired to conduct a wildlife habitat analysis of the city’s forests. Audubon studied the Winnekenni Park property earlier this year and provided the city with recommendations for proceeding with active forest management on that property, while being attentive to wildlife habitat needs.
This first cutting plan for Winnekenni specifically focuses on the forest’s hemlock population, east of Kenoza Lake.
Moore said the hemlocks that are cut down will likely be processed by the logger for three uses: saw logs for lumber, pulp for paper products, and chips. The city plans to put the project out for bid soon.