Home Opinion Editorials Day late and half-million short
Day late and half-million short
The Mount Emily Recreation Area Non-Motorized Advisory Committee and
the county commission are in the process of deciding whether to
consider a request from a group of citizens who would like to ensure
there’s a community forest in one unit of the MERA. The proposal would
require raising enough money to purchase the timber on the unit from
Forest Capital Partners, which is in the process of logging portions of
the recreation area as part of the agreement that put the entire
3,700-acre area into the county’s hands a year ago.
The community forest proposal isn’t a bad concept. However, the practicality of pulling off such a feat, especially at this point in the process, is a stretch. The citizens interested in establishing a community forest would need to raise an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 by the end of January, which alone would be pushing the time constraints set by Forest Capital when the purchase agreement was signed last year. That’s a chunk of money to raise in a short period of time.
The forest advocates should have begun their campaign months ago. One alternative would be to let the group see what it can do in the next six weeks to obtain pledges for the money, but with no promises that the deal could be struck with Forest Capital. That decision would be up to Forest Capital, the company that owns the trees and which originally tried to sell both the land and timber to the county as an alternative to its plan for logging. The county tried but was unable to come up with grant funding for the timber purchase.
Regardless of whether there’s a community forest or not, the county plans to manage MERA in a sustainable way. Selective cutting will occur, but forest health and reducing fire danger will be prime concerns. While that kind of forest management isn’t the same as preserving an old-growth forest like the community forest advocates want, it won’t result in clear-cutting and should make the MERA less prone to catastrophic fire. The recreation area is too near to town to run that risk, especially with access for virtually anyone who wants to visit MERA only a hop, skip and jump away from town.
The community forest advocates came up with a proactive response to the county’s inability to fund the entire purchase for land and timber. But without a lock on a half-million dollars, it’s likely come too late.