By Doug Stewart
The Sustainable Eastman Committee has been reviewing our forest management and best practices to ensure Eastman maintains a healthy and diverse forest. Originally the Eastman land was harvested for hardwood needed to make bobbins, which left behind defective and infected hardwoods, as well as softwoods and small shrubs and saplings. Our forest recovered and is now nearly 70 years old, but by most measures is still considered a young forest.
Residents of Eastman often voice concerns about how we maintain and improve the forest we have. Our forest is a biological system that is influenced by the natural environment—climate, topography, soil and also human activity. In the case of Eastman, the human activity centers around how we maintain our forest while allowing homeowners some flexibility in how they manage their own property. Sustainable Eastman discussed these issues in a report, Living Among the Trees: Forest Initiative Report 2019, which is available in the document center on the ECA Members’ Information Portal, www.eastmannh.us.* This report recommended to the Board and the Council the formation of a working group to review our current Environmental Control Committee (ECC) regulations concerning forest management in order to update the ECC Bylaws based on the current state of our forest and to recommend objective criteria to guide everyone’s efforts.
In May the Board appointed members to this working group, which has been analyzing and researching best practices for forest management. Overall management is critical to maintaining the beauty of our community. The abundance and diversity of birds, mammals, amphibians, and other wildlife are affected by how we approach the management of our forest. As residents of a forest community, we want to ensure the health, beauty, and viability of our forest but also provide fair and understandable guidelines for forest management to all of our residents. Much of what the group has reviewed has been centered around the impact trees and roots have on structures, foundations, and septic systems, as well as the benefits trees, provide for controlling erosion on hillsides and as privacy screens between houses, and around the lake and the golf course. When tree removal is needed or desired, it should be done with care and planning, keeping in mind the impact this will have on the local environment.
Allowing a view from home while still maintaining our forest is only one part of the equation.
This forestry working group believes establishing an agreed-upon scoring system will provide an objective guideline for tree removal requests. The group will recommend using the state of New Hampshire guidelines for scoring trees. Each tree or area of shrub in the zone is given a score depending on its size, and the total score of the zone is used as a guide to determine how many trees may be removed from that zone. The scoring system is used to assist the forester or homeowner as s/he determines the best approach to the health of each property. There are steps that must be taken before any tree can be removed. The group recommends first consulting with a licensed forester, a step required for those properties on lakes and waterways. The next step is to submit a tree-cutting request to the ECC, which will then inspect the property to determine the overall local environmental impact and verify the request meets our established criteria.
Goals of Tree Removal Criteria
This is a very brief review of the current efforts of the forestry working group to determine objective guidelines to assist homeowners in managing their portion of our greater Eastman forest. The working group will provide their results in the form of recommendations to the Board, the Council, ECC, and the community as a whole. Broad community input will be sought before any changes are made, and Sustainable Eastman expects to work with this group by conducting focus groups and open forums in which the recommendations are reviewed. Sustainable Eastman will continue to work to inform and educate our residents concerning best practices for forest management.
* The report can also be found at bit.ly/2019ForestReport
Doug Stewart purchased a home in Eastman nine years ago and has been here full time for two years. They moved here for the outdoor amenities and the beautiful forest community. Doug joined the Forest Working Group as a way to do his part to preserve the forest