BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – Vermonters took to Church Street on Saturday to protest clear-cut logging in Vermont’s national forests.
“In the climate crisis, in the water quality crisis that we’re facing right now for Lake Champlain, with the extinction crisis upon us, we need to let more of our forests age,” said Zack Porter.
Porter is the executive director of Standing Trees, a coalition that works to protect New England’s native forests.
He says the US Forest Service is expected to offer to harvest up to 11,000 acres in the Telephone Gap of the Green Mountain National Forest, located near the town of Chittenden. Construction would start in April.
More than 25 protesters carrying signs and tree branches, staged a die-in atop Church St.
The Natural Resources Agency says Vermont’s forests cover 78% of the state. Porter says the group is asking state legislators to make changes to forestry in Vermont.
“We can produce much cleaner water by making our public lands managed to be wild,” Porter said. “Bill H.606 is the first step to ensuring that more of our public lands are managed this way.”
H.606, or the Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Amy Sheldon in January. The bill aims to conserve 30% of the land by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
Ed Larson, a lobbyist for the Vermont Forest Products Association disagrees with this effort. He says logging is a vital industry in Vermont.
“It’s a foundation. Agriculture and forestry are the foundations of our rural economy. We are what makes our small towns vibrant. It’s sad to see people misrepresent what we do.
Larson says loggers are very careful about where and when they cut.
“There are a lot of variables that help a forester make decisions about which trees to take this time around, which trees we want to prioritize for the future,” Larson said. “How do we make room for new growth? We create openings so we can get sunlight on the ground so we can start new ground. Everything is based on science.
According to the Natural Resources Agency, loggers harvest around 1.4 million cords of wood per year. But, the forests grow almost double each year, with about 2.4 million cords.
Copyright 2022 WCAX. All rights reserved.