Forest Management Controversy
1:53 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

New Plan for Van Vliets Goes Up For Approval

The DNR is changing its tune on a management plan for the Van Vliet Hemlocks.  The agency plans to take a hands-off approach to the 400-acre stand of mostly old growth trees.

Controversy over a plan for active management in the Van Vliets has prompted the DNR to change its recommendation.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Officials had originally proposed to actively manage a section of the forest that didn’t fit the profile of the rest of the site: meaning some trees would be cut in hopes of speeding the process of old growth development.

But community outcry appears to have changed the DNR’s mind.  DNR Chief State Forester Paul DeLong says officials received dozens of letters.

“We changed our recommendation based on the feedback we received from the public. The overwhelming number of comments came in about the Van Vliet, and they were overwhelmingly asking that we modify the recommendation that we made.”

The new plan is passive management for the entire parcel.  And classifying it as a State Natural Area. 

Tom Olson is President of the nonprofit Friends of the Van Vliet Hemlocks.  He says he was pleased the DNR listened to public feedback.

“It showed maybe the way democracy oughtta work.  And that is that you make a proposal, you get public input, and then you modify the proposal based on the public input to serve the best interests of the overall general public.  And I think that’s what DNR did in this case.”

Officials will present the changes to the state Natural Resources Board for approval on Wednesday. 

The DNR is still reserving the right to manage the parcel for invasive species control.