Logging left many problems in park

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We are concerned with the decline of our local state park, General Butler, the most recent issue being the ruthless logging operation of ash trees and other species this past winter and spring.

Whether this was sound practice is moot at this point. Enormous damage was done in the guise of gaining some $45,000 for a park with an annual budget of $3 million. A pittance.

Our observations:

• Any sections of the wonderful trail system that intersected with logging were essentially destroyed and left with debris covering them in rough, unhikable condition resembling a war zone.

• Efforts to see the logging contract that forestry official Eric Gracey drew up with Atwood Lumber and Mats have been met with resistance. Instead of offering details of the agreement, Gracey offered the option of submitting an open records request, saying in the same statement that he “had nothing to hide.” We want to know what Atwood’s obligations are.

• In public meetings prior to logging, close monitoring was promised by forestry. This did not happen.

• Monitoring to see that run off of mud would not enter water streams was promised. Ask some of the merchants on Gillock Ave. how this played out.

• Atwood Lumber apparently was supposed to restore all trails they had damaged, grade out skid roads, install water breaks and seed down open areas. The job they did is ridiculously inept.

For an example, look at the log staging area behind the Convention Center by the parking lot in the rear. The area should be mowed to maintain a modicum of appearance, but a person would be a fool to try and mow this as it is now. And there’s nothing to mow anyway, just dirt and debris.

• The trails are more dangerous to hike now and completely destroyed in areas, and certainly are not attractive. And seriously, they are dangerous.

Ironically, if the intention was to remove diseased ash trees to “protect” park visitors from falling branches, then why are all of the large ash trees in the cabin areas, campground, picnic areas, shelter house, by the lodge and elsewhere still there?

We have heard that if the trails are to be restored at all, you or your staff suggest we round up volunteers and do it ourselves. Why should we have to repair your damage, especially in the view that any improvement can be undone on a whim by Frankfort? The park still hasn’t recovered from damage inflicted by John Y. Brown’s decision to build the ill-fated ski slope in 1982.

A trail steward who has been the only person to maintain the trails for years, a volunteer who has paid for everything himself needed to keep the trails open, has been told he cannot use the heavy equipment necessary to try and repair the damage and has been told not to affect the “water bars” nor change things on the trails. He no longer wishes anything to do with the park.

Many people say our park will never see this trivial $45,000. They laugh at the idea that it will actually come back here. Prove it. Show us the money. And show how far it will go toward restoring what you have done.

How about having another public forum such as you did when you were ram-rodding this venture last fall? Come back to the convention center and discuss this now as to how it played out and what we can expect next.

Dan Carraco and Carol Teach