The enabling legislation for DCR’s Division of Water Supply Protection directs the agency to assure the availability of pure water for future generations". Forest cover provides unparalleled water quality, better than any other land cover type. The Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) has determined that a vigorous, species-diverse, many-aged forest offers the most stable land cover in the face of potential large-scale disturbances by wind, ice, insects or disease. The Division’s long term objective is to diversify today’s predominantly even-aged forest into a multi-aged forest while conserving biodiversity using sustainable forestry practices. Proceeding at a measured pace, this process will not be fully implemented for many decades.
DWSP Foresters, guided by the Land Management Plans for each of the four source supply watersheds of the DCR/MWRA drinking water system, design timber harvests that will regenerate approximately 1% of the managed forest annually so that gradually, over time, the managed forest will include a much broader range of age classes than is currently present. Simultaneously, large unmanaged stands of trees are left to grow to biological maturities ranging from 100 to 400 or more years of age.
The overall purpose of this management is to restore the forest to more balanced proportions of young, mid-aged, and older trees comprised of the greatest possible variety of native species. The Division of Water Supply Protection’s working hypothesis is that the damage caused by inevitable future severe weather events, outbreaks of disease, and insect infestations is likely to be less extensive and the forest’s rate of recovery following those events is likely to improve as these forest characteristics fully develop.
The Division’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) functions as the “bridge” between professional research and management, addressing major natural resources and watershed management issues. The committee reconvened in April 2010 to review the principles of DWSP’s forestry program and recommend refinements in the program’s objectives and practices.
The full details of how the watershed forests came to their present condition, past management, current goals and objectives, and the scientific studies supporting DWSP’s management approach are contained in the Quabbin Land Management Plan , the Wachusett Reservoir Land Management Plan, the Ware River Land Management Plan , and the Sudbury Reservoir Watershed Land Management Plan .