Be Cautious, However, If You Really Want To Protect Old Growth (Or Future Old Growth). Some Land Trusts Support Forest Management And May Try To Convince You Not To “Tie The Hands” Of Future Generations By Prohibiting Logging. They Repeat What They Are Told By Foresters About The Necessity Of Management To Maintain A “Healthy Forest.” But Management Almost Always Means Logging, And That Is Not The Best Path To An Old-Growth Forest.
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Old- Growth Forests Contain Many Dying And “Unhealthy” Trees. They Should. Some Species Of Fungi And Insects Can Survive Only Through The Death Of Trees, And Some Birds And Frogs Can Survive Only Through The Survival Of Insects. Soil Organisms Depend On The Deaths Of Members Of All These Species, And Only Through Their Work Can A Healthy Soil Exist. Healthy Trees Need Healthy Soil, So The Death Of Some Is Balanced By The Abundant Health Of Others. This Is Sometimes Difficult For Those Who Think Of Dead Trees As A Waste To Accept. No One Has Been Paid For The Fiber They Contain, Nor Have Paper, Pencils, Or Furniture Been Made From Them. No Cardboard Boxes Or Toilet Paper Will Enter The Market As A Result Of Their Death. They Will Just Lie There, Slowly Providing The Materials For New Life.
Some See A Log Lying On The Ground As Rotting Money. When I Attended A Forest Management Meeting And Argued That Some Areas Ought To Be Off Limits To Logging, Or At Least That More Time Elapse Between Cuts, An Earnest Young Logger Remarked, “Some Trees Will Just Die.”
“Exactly,” I Replied, “And That Is Not A Bad Thing. A Healthy Forest Needs Dead Wood.”
I Have Nothing Against Land Trusts; They Are Doing Good, Important Work. I Am Simply Warning That Preserving Your Land From Development Through A Trust Does Not Mean You Have Protected It From Logging. Where I Live, Most Forests With Conservation Easements Held By Land Trusts Can Be Logged. If You Want To Leave The Legacy Of An Old-Growth Forest, You Must Be Firm And Clear, Even When Dealing With The Good Guys.
So, For A Long Time The Freed Slave’S Forest Didn’T Get Logged, But By 1970, Saddler’S Heirs And His Instructions To Them Were Long Forgotten. The Property, Now In The Middle Of A Crowded And Bustling Area, Was Owned By A Man Who Wanted To Construct High-Rise Apartment Buildings On It. And If It Weren’T For One Local High School Boy, He Probably Would Have Done So. Doug Hefty Loved That Forest And Didn’T Want It Destroyed. He Wrote A Report About The Ecology Of Saddler’S Woods And Presented It To The Owner. In Another Of The Continuing String Of Near Miracles That Preserved This Forest, Hefty’S Report Persuaded The Owner To Build His High-Rise Apartments Across The Street Instead.
In 1987, The Forest Was Threatened Again, This Time By A New Owner Planning To Build Townhouses. The Town’S Planning And Zoning Board Favored The Tax Revenue That Development Would Bring, But Many Citizens Of The Area Felt Differently; More Than Three Hundred Of Them Attended A Meeting To Protest The Development. Also, Although The Trees Like Trees In Most Places Had Little Protection, The Stream On The Property Was Protected By Federal Wetlands Regulations. By 1988, The Proposed Development Had Become So Unpopular And Problematic That The Mayor And Commissioners Began To Question The Plan, Citing The “Need To Further Study Impacts To Traffic, Sewage Treatment Capacities, And Water Supply.” In 1990, Haddon Township Applied For State Funds To Buy The Woods And, In 1999, Purchased Fifteen Acres On Which To Develop Athletic Fields. You Can’T Play Soccer In A Forest, Of Course, So The Trees Would Have To Go.
Once Again, Many Individuals And Organizations Worked Together To Save The Forest. In 2002, A Trio Of Old-Growth Experts Was Invited To Visit The Forest And Decided That, As Some Of The Trees Were More Than 150 Years Old, It Was Officially “Old Growth.” In A Heated Election Year Battle, Eighteen Hundred Citizens Signed A Petition To Protect The Forest, And Eventually The Mayor And The Commissioners Agreed To Place A Conservation Easement On The Property. In 2004, They Formally Named It Saddler’S Woods In Honor Of The Slave Who Made The First Move To Protect It.
I Wonder What He Would Think If He Walked This Grove With Me Today.
Author at Montreal Beach Resort
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