Vol. II No. 11 6/1/2021
Notes from the Agriculture and Forestry Commission May 17 via Zoom
- Matt Boudreau, Chair
- Lisa Bozzuto
- Shelby Marshall, alternate
Also present: Michael Canales, Administrator, Ken Gooch, Consultant, Chuck Cardillo, SB liaison, Patrick White, SB
- Boudreau called the meeting to order; the minutes approved.
- Ken Gooch, consultant, presented his "Ice Glen Tree Health Report". Gooch surveyed the trees focusing on old growth Hemlocks; that is, Hemlocks with a diameter of 10" or more. He also surveyed the White Ash.
- The Hemlock is the third most prevalent tree in Massachusetts. The insects threating the trees have been in the Commonwealth since the 1950s, but with global warming, warmer winters, they are flourishing and threatening the trees. Bottom line: Stockbridge is in danger of losing 60% of the Hemlocks in Ice Glen. The situation is dire; the loss of the trees is imminent. Gooch has long experience with treating the trees and recommended only one treatment as efficacious.
- Application can only be done now until mid-June and then after September. Application should be monitored. It is a spray applied to the first five feet of trunk and if done a correct time of year will travel up through tree to top. Application for the number of trees in Ice Glen will take 2-3 days. Anticipated to last 2-3 years but the treated trees should be monitored annually.
- 150 — 200 trees should be treated immediately at a cost of $15 per inch of diameter per tree (an estimated $67,000). It was voted to recommend to the SB to increase the line item in the budget (to appear on the warrant) from $30,000 to $70,000 to cover the actual cost.
- There are federal funds available through the US Forestry Services (called Suppression Grants). Stockbridge qualifies and would probably receive grant to pay for treatment of Hemlocks in future but must act now using Town finds because application for grant monies not possible until October.
- Gooch was asked if he could monitor the application. He said yes and he would help with the best wording of the contract to ensure compliance.
- With respect to the Ash trees, they are some of the biggest Gooch has ever seen anywhere in the Commonwealth. Their diameters are as much as 44 inches and rise to a height of 130 feet. There are only 34 Ash trees in Ice Glen, far fewer than Hemlock. There are plans to introduce a biological solution, that is, something that eats the insect killing the Ash trees, however that takes time. Gooch believes we cannot stop the Ash disease.
- Cardillo explained the Right to Farm item that will appear on Town Warrant. According to Mass General Law: "This General By-law encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture- based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies." Under the bylaw, complaints would be referred to the AFC. Motion to endorse Right to Farm was made, seconded, and passed unanimously.
- Shelby Marshall encouraged AFC to pursue grants. Bozzuto concurred. She preferred a whole-town planning approach and indicated that stewardship grants and planning grants make Stockbridge eligible for other grants. Recommended to pursue grants.
New growth on a young hemlock. Photo: Patrick White