Presentation to MA Technical Steering Committee of the Forest Futures Visioning Process Bob Leverett
July 14, 2009


     I am aware that a number of my friends and associates have asked that I be allowed to make a presentation to the Technical Steering Committee of the Forest Futures Visioning Process to share with committee members specific knowledge and experience I have with Massachusetts forests. I would be most pleased to do that. If a presentation by me is desired, I would propose to discuss the following topics.

    1. A criteria for identifying exceptional Massachusetts forest sites for recognition and protection .

    2. A review of the administrative apparatus used by other states to identify, evaluate, nominate, select, and protect exceptional forest sites.

    3. A review of exceptional forest sites in Massachusetts based on the criteria in #1 above.

    4. A review of exceptional forest sites in other states and how they compare with sites in Massachusetts .

    I know that some of my friends had wanted me to serve on the Technical Steering Committee, but I elected not to make myself available for two primary reasons. The biggest one at the time was my health. I was experiencing serious problems and simply did not have the energy to devote to additional projects. I'm happy to report that the health issues are favorably settled for the time being. The other reason for not making myself available is that I can be better utilized in another capacity. I've alluded to that in previous emails.

    As the co-founder and Executive Director of the Eastern Native Tree Society (ENTS), I have behind me an organization that has great research depth in areas that have not been developed in other organizations within Massachusetts - even the most prestigi ous academic and environmental ones . Given the erudite status of Massachusetts academic institutions, this is a bold assertion to make, but it can be backed up. Consequently, I believe that my time is best utilized for the greater good when I am working in the ENTS specialty areas. Others with good legal minds will do a far better job of figuring out how best to protect valued forest sites - once they know where the sites are and what makes them valuable. In addition, i t is critically important to have sufficient information about each site  to enable a prioritization of the sites . If choices must be made, let's make the right ones. But t o be able to do this requires hig hly specialized knowledge that accrues as much  from one's passions as professional status. In ENTS, there is no shortage of either. We understand how to evaluate forest sites in a comparative manner when comparisons becomes necessary.

    At the least, w e need a system in Massachusetts as effective as what I observed in states like Indiana and Ohio - states  that are largely agricultural. Scarcity of inspiring woodlands in those states served to motivate  them to achieve a higher level of forest cognizance. They successfully combined historical, ecological, and aesthetic perspectives. As a result , t hey now recognize and protect forest sites of exceptional value through their implemented nature preserve programs .    

    T o establish a system of comparable efficacy in Massachusetts, we need input from people experienced at determining what makes forest sites sufficiently unique or special to justify protection. We need people who have not only thought through concepts of  forest value along largely non-economic lines, but people who spend the bulk of their time in the field evaluating sites . Expertise in how to construct criteria for evaluating forest sites along non-economic lines is what ENTS specifically brings to the table in spades and that expertise ca n be mad e available to the Committee for the asking.

    As a final bit of information to illustrate my point, I have just returned from an extended trip to the Rocky Mountain West that includes   a connection with the huge San Juan National Forest in colorful Colorado. We will likely hold a joint conference next year on western old growth forests: the science, management and restoration, and values. Participants will be ENTS and WNTS (Western Native Tree Society), the Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Fort Lewis College in Durango. I think I can state confidently that t hese last three organizations would not commit time to such a joint venture unless there was a clear value to each participant. I'd like to think that t he basis for t hat value was established during my visit.

    I am ready to place the expertise of ENTS at the disposal of the Steering Committee toward the agenda outlined above . Bill, t he ball is now in your court.  

Best wishes,

Bob  Leverett

President, Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Cofounder and Executive Director, Eastern Native Tree Society  
Member, Western Native Tree Society   


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