This policy is intended to provide guidance on Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) internal review, public notice of and comment on forest management plan implementation and timber harvesting projects. This policy applies to DCR State Forests, Parks, and Reservations commercial timber sales and home fuelwood projects.
Guide Public Outreach and Consultation for Forest Cutting Plans
- The Department of Conservation and Recreation, acting through its Bureau of Forestry is responsible for the conservation, health, and management of forest vegetation within DCR State Forests, Parks and Reservation system lands.
- The Bureau of Forestry endeavors to meet and exceed the Massachusetts Forestry Best Management Practices (Appendix 1); Forest Management Guidelines 2012(Appendix 3); statewide forestry guidelines in coordination with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; and Forest Resource and Natural Resource Management Plans pursuant to MGL Ch. 21, § 2F; and is responsible for meeting the standards of the regulations promulgated by the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act: 304 CMR 11.00 – 11.10 Forest Cutting Practices (Appendix 2) and other requirements of the law such as the Wetlands Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
Public Notice of Proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries and Vegetative Management Projects
- For all commercial forest product sales that require a Forest Cutting Plan, (Appendix 6) and for commercial home fuelwood sales, or any significant forest vegetation management project, Management Foresters will prepare proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries (Appendix 4) after consultation, coordination and approval from the responsible Regional Director or their designee, Park Supervisors and State Lands Management Program Supervisor.
- The proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries will include: the municipality where the project is located; facility name; project’s Forest Management district; Management Forester contact information (telephone number, e-mail address, and mailing address); project name; project location description; forest stand description; proposed preliminary silvicultural treatment; aesthetic, recreation, and environmental conditions and considerations such as forest reserves, high conservation value forest; and designated scenic by-ways; topographic map of the area with the area of the proposed work marked, and any other basic identifying information that the Bureau finds appropriate.
- The proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries and Vegetative Management Project proposals will be completed biannually on or about July 1 and January 1. Interim proposed timber harvesting summaries plans may be posted at any time on an emergency basis. Examples of emergency situations are high mortality due to forest insects and diseases, blowdown, fire, snow and ice damage, rare species habitat needs, and treatment of invasive species infestation.
- Proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries will be made publicly available by posting on the Bureau of Forestry’s web page Proposed Forest Management Projects and in hard copy at the DCR Boston, Regional and Park Administrative Offices (site of proposed harvesting project).
- The Timber Harvesting Master Summary List, a table listing a summary of all projects under consideration and active projects will be posted on the Bureau of Forestry web page. The table will include project status, a link to each proposed Timber Harvesting Summary and project silvicultural prescription.
- All proposed harvest project sites will be posted with a sign that informs the public of a proposed harvesting project and Management Forester contact information.
- Public information meetings will be held twice annually on or about the third Thursday of January and July at each Regional Administrative Office (Amherst, Lowell, Carver, Pittsfield and the Clinton Field Office). Management Foresters will be available from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm and from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm to present to the public and answer questions on the newly posted proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries. The public meetings will be announced on the DCR Forestry website homepage and through electronic mail to stakeholders.
Internal and External Review
- During the Timber Harvesting Proposal and Summary preparation process, Management Foresters will consult with Regional Directors or their designee, State Forest/Park Supervisors, DCR Cultural Resources, Recreation staff, other pertinent DCR operations staff, and MA Division of Fish and Wildlife staff to assess the proposed projects and their affect on the respective state forest, park, or reservation. Management Foresters and staff will identify projects with wetland resource areas, rare or endangered species habitat, certified vernal pools, high public sensitivity, possible conflicts with intensively used areas, special and important public, geological or historic places. Issues of concern will be identified in the Timber Harvesting Summary along with steps for mitigation.
- Biannually, on or about July 1 and January 1 the DCR will post on the Bureau of Forestry website Proposed Timber Harvest Summaries. The website will include a link to the table listing all proposed and active harvesting projects, and Management Forester contact information for the purpose of soliciting public comments.
- Written public comments will be accepted for 45 days after the posting of the proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries.
- After consideration of all public comments received, the Bureau of Forestry will prepare a DCR written response, which will be coordinated and in consultation with qualified resource specialists, the Regional Director or their designee, Park Supervisor, State Lands Management Program Supervisor and Director of Forest Stewardship and post the responses at the Timber Harvest Summary web page.
- Management Foresters will prepare the silvicultural prescription (Appendix 5) after the DCR prepares and post responses to written public comments. The silvicultural prescription will account for legitimate concerns raised internally and externally during the comment solicitation process. All silvicultural prescriptions will be approved by the State Lands Management Forestry Program Supervisor before a project proceeds.
- The silvicultural prescription will be posted on the DCR Bureau of Forestry website. The prescription will also be linked from Timber Harvesting Master Summary List.
- A site visit will be offered for all planned commercial timber sales and home fuelwood harvests. The site visit will provide information to all interested parties describing the purpose of the treatment, silviculture that will be implemented, how visually the area will change, practices to protect wetlands and endangered species and steps to stabilize disturbed areas.
Timber Harvesting Project Design
- Silvicultural Prescription - After public concerns have been addressed and completed, a detailed Silvicultural Prescription will be prepared adhering to regulations in 304 CMR 11.00 – 11.10 Forest Cutting Practices, the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, Wetlands Protection Act; Bureau of Forestry policy, direction, and guidelines; and applicable planning documents.
a. The Management Forester will prepare a comprehensive silvicultural prescription (Appendix 5) based on a stand level inventory or stand examination of the forest stands in the proposed treatment area. The required elements of all prescriptions regardless of scale are descriptions of
i. Site Data
ii. Stand Data
iii. Evaluation of Data, Prescription and Expected Results
iv. Documentation of Prescription and Data
For full silvicultural prescription requirements see Appendix 5 . The Silvicultural Prescription will be made available for public review on the Bureau of Forestry Proposed Forest Management Projects, during the project site visit, from the project’s respective Management Forester and prescription author or at the Regional or Field Office.
- Forest Cutting Plan Preparation:
a. The Management Forester will prepare a Forest Cutting Plan (Appendix 6) using data and information gathered for the Harvesting Summary and Silvicultural Prescription. The Forest Cutting Plan will be prepared according to 304 CMR 11.00 – 11.10, Forest Cutting Practices. Qualified specialists such as Archeologists, Hydrologists, Biologists, Ecologists, and staff from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program will be consulted as needed.
b. Cutting Plans as required will be submitted to the Bureau of Forestry, Service Forestry Program for approval.
c. Cutting Plans as required will be submitted to the local Conservation Commission.
d. Cutting plans will be submitted to municipalities in which the forest cutting will take place.
The Forest Cutting Plan will be made available for public review at the project’s respective Regional or Field Office, respective project locations city or town conservation commission and upon request through public records requests through DCR legal staff at the DCR Boston Office.
Upon completion of the process set forth above, the project will proceed.
There are 6 Appendices that are available for download below.
Appendix 1: Massachusetts Best Management Practices Manual
Appendix 2: 304 CMR 11.00 - 11.10 Forest Cutting Practices
Appendix 3: Management Guidelines 2012
Appendix 4: Proposed Timber Harvesting Summaries
Appendix 5: Project Silvicultural Prescription
Appendix 6: Project Forest Cutting Plan