Controversy over planned logging project in Green Mountain National Forest

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:28 PM EST
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GRANVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont environmental activists are urging the U.S. Forest Service to abandon plans to log a section of the Green Mountain National Forest. But local foresters say the project is good for the logging industry and the health of the forest.

The forest service is currently considering granting logging permits to clear more than 10,000 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest, what they call the Telephone Gap Integrated Resource Project.

“Clear cutting has a bad name. I know that I’ve been a forester for over 60 years,” said Norman Arsenault, a forester.

The Telephone Gap is an area of the forest that’s centered around the Chittenden Reservoir. Foresters say having a logging project there is needed to create early successional habitat and produce timber.

“There’s a lot of economic opportunity that happens in the woods industries, from professional foresters, like myself, to loggers and sawmills that are going to receive products as the near products that are going to come out of there,” Arsenault said.

The proposal was first developed back in 2006, and foresters say the project is nothing new for the state and is in line with President Biden’s current environmental policy.

“I understand they’d like less timber cutting,” Arsenault said. “But the whole idea is to look at all of the resources that are in there and make a plan. You have to have a timber cutting program that would take place removes timber, but the result is this early successional habitat which encourages different variety of animals, birds and so forth, to use that piece of land.”

Although the project wouldn’t get off the ground for years to come, demonstrations against the project are already being held. Protesters say the negative environmental effects of logging outweigh the benefits.

“I don’t think the Green Mountain National Forest needs to become an active woodlot,” said Deniz Dutton, a senior at UVM.

Activists are calling on the forest service to permanently protect forests over the age of 80 and to not go through with the logging project.

“If we keep this up, we’re going to make sure that Telephone Gap doesn’t happen. And that it definitely doesn’t happen the way that they’re envisioning,” said Zach Porter, the executive director of Standing Trees.

But foresters say it’s not the forest service’s decision to make, and the public should have faith that the service will responsibly manage the land.

“We’ve always got good regeneration that’s going to come back and build a new forest. And so I don’t think there’s any worry,” Arsenault said.

Activists say they will continue speaking out against the project in hopes that they will find a way to change the forest service’s mind.

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