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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - On Saturday, Vermonters took to Church Street to protest clear cutting in Vermont’s National Forests.
“In the climate crisis, in the water quality crisis that we’re dealing with right now for Lake Champlain, with the extinction crisis upon us, we have to let more of our forests grow old,” Zack Porter said.
Porter is the Executive Director of Standing Trees, a coalition that works to protect native forests in New England.
He says the U.S. Forest Service is expected to propose logging as much as 11,000 acres in the Telephone Gap of the Green Mountain National Forest, located near the town of Chittenden. The project would start in April.
More than 25 protesters carrying signs and tree branches, staged a die-in at the top of Church St.
The Agency of Natural Resources says Vermont forests cover 78% of the state. Porter says the group is calling on state legislators to make changes to forestry in Vermont.
“We can produce much cleaner water by making our public lands managed to be wild,” Porter said. “The bill H.606 is the first step in making sure that more of our public lands are managed that way.”
H.606, or the Community Resilience and Biodiversity Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Amy Sheldon back in January. The bill aims to conserve 30% of land by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
Ed Larson, a lobbyist for the Vermont Forest Products Association disagrees with the effort. He says logging is a vital industry in Vermont.
“It’s a foundation. Agriculture and Forestry are our foundations for our rural economy. We’re what make our small towns vibrant. It’s sad to see people mischaracterize what we do.”
Larson says loggers are very cautious about where and when they cut.
“There’s a whole lot of variables that help a forester make decisions on what trees to take this time around, what trees we want to favor for the future,” Larson said. “How do we make room for new growth? We create openings so that we can get sunlight on the floor so we can get a new floor started. It’s all science based.”
The Agency of Natural Resources says, loggers harvest roughly 1.4 Million cords of timber annually. But, the forests grow nearly double that every year, with about 2.4 Million cords.
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