Eight Forestry Reforms

Eight Forestry Reforms for Massachusetts (Draft)*
As Drafted and Discussed by Subscribers to the Northeastern Forestry Reformation List**
September, 1999

1)  There will be a Forester Licensing Board under the Commonwealth's Division of Registration, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business RegulationThe Board will be made up of eight practicing foresters.  Implementing legislation for forester licensing and the Board will be along the lines of the implementing legislation for licensing of surveyors, engineers and architects.  The Board will be solely responsible for forester licensing, and will be jointly responsible with DEM-BOF for timber harvest supervisor licensing.  The DEM-BOF will be solely responsible for timber harvester licensing.

2)  All silvicultural operations on Chapter 61 land will be done in conformance with a Silvicultural Plan. Silvicultural Plans may also be prepared for non-Chapter 61 land.  Silvicultural Plans will be prepared only by Licensed Foresters and will not be subject to review by DEM-BOF Regulatory Foresters (see paragraph 7 for duties of these foresters).  These plans will be filed with the town Conservation Commission(s) and the DEM-BOF. 

3)  Cutting Plans for non-Chapter 61 land may be prepared only by Licensed Timber Harvester Supervisors and will be subject to review by DEM-BOF Regulatory Foresters. Cutting Plans will include clear and prominent disclaimers as to the accuracy of harvest volumes and boundary locations in the plans.  There will also be clear and prominent disclaimers as to the appropriateness of the selection of trees to be cut and left.  These plans will be filed with the town Conservation Commission(s) and the DEM-BOF.  Filers of Cutting Plans will pay a fee to the DEM-BOF for the full cost of DEM-BOF personnel in processing these plans. 

4)  Chapter 61 Forest Management Plans will be prepared only by Licensed Foresters. The Chapter 61 Plan will also constitute a Sustainable Forestry Practices Notice of Intent for all road work to be done under the plan.  All road work will be done in conformance with Forest Road Design Standards.  These Standards will be written and periodically updated by the Forester Licensing Board.  The Forest Management Plan may include extra information that will qualify it as a long-term Silvicultural Plan at the election of the landowner and forester.

5)  State Forests will be turned over to any regional or town land trust that petitions the DEM-BOF for such action, and that prepares a comprehensive management plan for the land that is acceptable to a joint committee of the DEM-BOF and the Forester Licensing Board. Trust lands will be managed for the benefit of the residents of the state, regions and towns.  These trusts will be responsible for designing forest policies and for hiring forest managers to implement these policies.  Significant parts of these trust forests will be demonstration forests to help educate the general public about the benefits and techniques of forest management.  Other significant parts will be designated for permanent old growth status.

6)  All hiring in the DEM-BOF will be done to meet the requirements of civil service.  Current personnel who do not meet these requirements will be moved to lower levels of responsibility where they do meet civil service requirements.  The Director of the Division of Forests and Parks will be a licensed forester, as will the Chief Forester and all DEM-BOF Regulatory and State Forest Management Foresters.  All DEM-BOF staff appointments will be subject to cancellation upon petition of a majority of Licensed Foresters.   

7)  Chapter 61 lands will be checked for compliance with plans every 5 years by the DEM-BOF Regulatory Foresters. DEM-BOF Regulatory Foresters will have responsibility for approving and administering all federal and state cost-shares for private forestry activities.  DEM-BOF Regulatory Foresters will be responsible for confirming Licensed Foresters' appraisals of ecosystem service contributions claimed as state and federal income tax deductions by forest landowners.  

8)  The same amount of state and federal tax money as has been allocated to the Big Dig will be allocated for the purchase of development rights from forest and farm landowners.  This money will be made available to cities, towns and local/regional land trusts that have developed rural land conservation plans, and that have demonstrated effectiveness and efficiency in conserving rural land.  A special account will be established for the purchase of development and forestry rights to old growth and near old growth forest stands and adjacent buffer zones.

*  These proposed forestry reforms are specific to Massachusetts, but they could be adapted with minor modifications to fit most states and provinces in the United States and Canada. 

**  The Northeastern Forestry Reformation List consists of approximately 40 foresters and environmentalists from throughout the United States and Canada, but predominantly from the Northeastern states and provinces.  This list is the most active online forestry discussion group on the Internet at this time.  Instructions for subscribing to this list may be found at http://www.daviesand.com/Connections/NEFR_List/.