A plan to clear thousands of fallen trees from the watershed region of the Catskills will lead to a healthier and more-diverse forest, a local forestry expert said Monday.
Bruce Kernan of South Worcester, a professional forestry consultant who manages a woodlot of nearly 1,000 acres with his family in Delaware County, applauded the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for “setting an example of good land use” for private forestland owners.
After the forest lands managed by the DEP were lashed by a series of destructive storms in recent years, the agency stepped up the removal of toppled trees, including valuable hardwoods that could be used in furniture making.
Last year, the agency awarded contracts on seven tree removal projects, and is looking to now step up the harvesting of timber on its property.
“We’re preserving the value of this natural resource,” said DEP spokesman Adam Bosch, noting that if left in the forest for long, the timber will rot and be worthless.
Removing the trees promptly, he added, encourages forest regeneration, and allows new trees to grow, thus fortifying soils in ways that will discourage erosion during rainstorms.
Kernan, the son of acclaimed forestry scholar Henry S. Kernan, said the DEP is implementing “science-based forest management that will conserve the Catskill watershed’s production of clean, reliable and abundant flows of water while also producing wood that our society values for its beauty and versatility and jobs in logging and wood industry.”
Kernan said the removal of dead and dying trees “will reduce the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere from decaying wood. It will also increase the rate of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere by the healthier, faster-growing and more valuable trees that will be left in the forest.”