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July 31. 2013 10:56PM

Pisgah protest

2 Pisgah Council members resign to protest logging


Pisgah State Park volunteer Wendy Jacobs with her dog Tucker in the park. (COURTESY)

CHESTERFIELD — Two leaders of Friends of Pisgah Council, a group of volunteers who watch over Pisgah State Park, have left the council over the Department of Resources and Economic Development logging the forest.

The longtime members, former council President Kathy Thatcher of Chesterfield and former park historian and archivist Laurel Powell of Hinsdale, resigned at an impromptu meeting in July.

Both women said they plan to continue to seek ways to stop the logging of the 13,000-acre park that sits in Chesterfield, Winchester and Hinsdale.

Thatcher said Wednesday she decided to leave the group so she could continue to oppose the commercial logging activity on the state land. She said the park was purchased by the state in 1968 for the specific purpose of recreation.

"I left so that I could be more vocal and not jeopardize the really important volunteer work that they do to maintain that park," she said.

Council Treasurer John Hudachek said the council has opposed the logging activity for many years, but caught the ire of state officials about a year ago when the council asked the National Park Service to weigh in on the issue.

Hudachek said in reaction the Department of Resources and Economic Development sent the group a letter saying it would have to remove a house and barn the council placed on the state land years ago, which the group uses as a historical museum and visitor center. DRED also said it would no longer permit the volunteers to conduct maintenance within the park.

So the council backed off in order to continue its work, Hudachek said.

In May, the National Park Service sided with DRED, stating in a letter that when federal funds were granted to the state in the late 1960s to purchase the land, documents recognized the need for forest management work and that the current logging is within that intent.

"It was always intended for the park; it just took us a long time to get to it," said Kenneth Desmarais, administrator of the Forest Management Bureau of the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands.

Desmarais has overseen the land for 28 years and said the forest management plan was created to serve the recreation goals of the park.

Thatcher said that the land was created as a state park with recreation as its primary use, not commercial timbering and that the logging disrupts the recreational aspects of the park.

"The state routinely uses harvesting as a way of meeting recreation goals," Desmarais said. "There are just some people that don't want to see harvesting in the park."

The Pisgah Management Plan is available online at www.nhdfl.org on the Pisgah State Park page.

The plan states that a 5,000-acre section is to remain untouched because it has old growth and serves as a recreation spot for people who want to experience that type of forest, Desmarais said.

Out of the 13,000 acres, only 3,000 is planned to be disturbed over the course of several years, he said.

Cutting will only take place every other year and will create habitat for wildlife that don't thrive in the deep, dark forest under heavy canopy, he said. Especially for migratory birds that winter in South America, Desmarais said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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