Thursday, July 22, 2010

Allentown Denies Interest in Lumber Business

When Allentown Parks & Recreation hired Christopher Chronister of CC Forestry Services in Muncy, Lycoming County, for an inventory of the Queen City's South Mountain Reservoir Forest, his mission was to determine the market value of all ”merchantable timber” and to provide a ”detailed map…outlining areas with the most harvest potential.” Then, when the City refused to release a draft report to The Morning Call, local environmentalists became concerned. Did Pawlowski plan to denude the forest and install another destination playground? Last night, everyone finally got an answer.

Parks Director Greg A. Weitzel assured Council member Ray O'Connell at last night's Parks & Recreation Committee meeting that the City has no designs on harvesting the forest. For one thing, he explained it's "too small for that." He said the City might realize "some minimal dollars" down the road as it removes some trees, but stressed that his main goal is to "get more people to appreciate South Mountain and not abuse the mountain." He gave a report detailing trail erosion as the result of ATV use, and also indicated there are some illegal tree stands and dumps. But overall, the South Mountain Forest is an "incredible natural resource", a "treasure", and a "natural laboratory."

So what did CC Forestry Services do? According to Weitzell, an inventory of 91 acres located off S 10th Street and another 65 acres off S 28th Street. Four thousand trees were counted, and the most dominant species are 1,000 yellow poplars. But Weitzell also noted the existence of spicebush, which deer don't like, as well as some invasive plants like garlic mustard.

According to Weitzell, the City will now form a management committee, conduct a detailed survey and fence off forty acres to deter deer browsing.

"Where will the deer go?" asked Council member Jeanette Eichenwald. Weitzell doesn't really know, prompting city activist Dennis Pearson to speculate that many of them will probably take up residence at Allentown State Hospital.

They probably don't know it's closing.

Eichenwald also expressed her disappointment that the draft report was kept from the public eye, noting that this is what leads to wild speculation.

Dan Poresky, a member of Allentown's Environmental Advisory Council, complained that the "EAC has been looked to for opinions on what is going on, but for the most part, we have no idea what is going on. We're playing catch up."

"Can you categorically state timber production is off the table?" asked O'Connell.

"It never was on the table," answered managing Director Ken Bennington.

17 comments:

michael molovinsky said...

it's wonderful that allentown could spend $7,500 for a survey from a private lumber consultant, when the state forest service provides that service for free, nothing odd about that. also, although fences have some success keeping nosy people out, they're useless against deer. lastly, when weitzel says a few tree's may be sold, is that like a few paths may be paved in cedar park?

Anonymous said...

Based on experence I don't trust or believe anyone in the Pawlowski Administration.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Thanks for this report and for taking the time to tell us what happened. If what Weitzel said last night is true, that the trees won't be cut down, why didn't he clear the air months ago? Why torment the public? Why didn't the newspaper and residents receive copies of
the requested information? We're not at all impressed with Eichenwald's comments. Why didn't she get initial reports and distribute to taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Based on experence I don't trust or believe anyone in the Pawlowski Administration.

Scott Armstrong

6:05 AM

Ditto

Anonymous said...

If a few trees may be sold, how do folks think a tree cutter and tree hauling equipment gets to those trees? We've seen commercial tree cutting and it is an all-encompassing procedure that requires heavy duty equipment and
destruction to the forest floor.

LVCI said...

I heard they wanted to keep the study a secret because it was discovered that Knucklehead Smith's mother still lives up there.

You think it's possible that someone from city hall is related and didn't want it to get out?

After all, there are some similarities!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"We're not at all impressed with Eichenwald's comments. Why didn't she get initial reports and distribute to taxpayers?"

She's a member of City Council, not Mary Poppins. She has no magical powers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"We're not at all impressed with Eichenwald's comments. Why didn't she get initial reports and distribute to taxpayers?"

She's a member of City Council, not Mary Poppins. She has no magical powers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Based on experence I don't trust or believe anyone in the Pawlowski Administration."

You're certainly entitled but I question that kind of thinking. Representations made by both Weitzell and the managing Director, during a public meeting that is recorded and to which minutes are recorded. They deny any intention to harvest the forest and make clear that the intention is to maintain the forest, which is called a treasure. What more could they do?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"If what Weitzel said last night is true, that the trees won't be cut down, why didn't he clear the air months ago?"

He was asked that and was pretty evasive on that point. The contract itself certainly suggests an intention to harvest. It's very possible that thinking on this point changed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"although fences have some success keeping nosy people out, they're useless against deer."

At last night's meeting, there was a picture showing the big difference between areas that are fenced and areas that are not. He mentioned the fences protects the forest from deer, but I think it also protects it from the most dangerous invasive species of all - us.

Anonymous said...

She has no magical powers.

9:23 AM

But Bernie, she ran on having magical powers and some of us believed her.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
What areas are to be fenced? Do you know? Do you mean they are going to actually close off the S. 10th Street entrance other than day hours? Thanks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I honestly can't say exactly what area is going to be fenced. Hopefully, Dennis Pearson will see this and tell us.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Can a person simultaneously maintain their integrity and work for Pawlowski?

I rest my case.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Scott, do you have a reasonable bone in your body or is your hate for all Democrats and those who are duly elected by voters so strong that you can't see how irrational you have become.

You have no credibility on anything related to politics. YOu are a partisan shrill.

Anonymous said...

"At last night's meeting, there was a picture showing the big difference between areas that are fenced and areas that are not. He mentioned the fences protects the forest from deer, but I think it also protects it from the most dangerous invasive species of all - us."

Hawk Mountain has one of these set ups along their trail with a fence and date marker to show the difference. After only 5 years, low growing brush is starting to take root in teh fenced off area while the unfenced area was largely barren of low-lying brush. The trees were hearty, but it was only the trees.