EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 27, 2008

Plan might restrict ATV use in town forest

By John Basilesco , Staff Writer

DANVILLE - Officials are ready to get started on a plan to guide the management of the 423-acre town forest.

Despite previous disagreements, the Forestry Committee, selectmen and the Conservation Commission are now united in their approach to putting together a formal plan to safeguard the town's forest, said Curt Springer, chairman of the Forestry Committee. The forest is off Main Street.

The effort involves working with the Audubon Society, and hiring a licensed forester in the spring to help the town create a stewardship plan to guide the management of the town forest for the next 10 to 20 years, Springer said.

It would involve everything from how to manage the wildlife in the forest to the creation of new trails, he said. It might also examine areas of the town forest where trees could be thinned or cut down to generate money to help cover the cost of the forest's management without relying on the town's taxpayers, he said.

The stewardship plan also might restrict all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles to the two areas in the forest that they currently are allowed to use, the right-of-way along the power lines, and on Tucker Road, an old dirt road on the property, Springer said. Currently, the Forestry Committee has the authority to expand the use of these recreational vehicles to other parts of the town forest, he said.

Controversy in the past revolved around how to manage the forest and who would be responsible for managing it, he said.

"The town Forestry Committee and other boards, including selectmen and the Conservation Commission, are coming together and have agreed on where to go from here on the process for creating a management plan for the forest," Springer said. "We're working with the Audubon Society, doing a more ambitious project than most towns around us."

The plan would even look at specific species of trees to be preserved in the forest, he said.