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This letter is in response to a recent Letter to the Editor regarding the removal of dead trees from the Reading Town Forest. Red pine trees across Massachusetts are dying. Red pines were planted in about a dozen areas of the Town Forest decades ago. Red pines are native to more northern latitudes. They are currently being stressed by the warming climate, making them vulnerable to insects and fungal pathogens. Most of these areas have fire roads and walking trails through them. These dead trees pose a risk to users of the Town Forest who walk under them. The danger of fire is also a concern.
The Town Forest consists of 290 acres. Dead trees were removed in January 2020, January 2022 and November 2022 from a total of 14 acres.
Removing the dead trees has been very successful in improving the safety of the Town Forest, and in improving plant and wildlife habitat. Oak and white pine saplings were avoided during the cutting operation to the maximum extent possible. Ground disturbed by the cutting will heal. Saplings whose growth was stunted by the dense stands of pine trees have thrived in the sunlight created by the three phases of cutting. Replanting with native plant species has begun in the disturbed areas and more will follow.
People can support the replanting of the Town Forest by contributing to the Trees for Reading fund that is being operated by Friends of Reading Scouting. Scouts have supported the Town Forest from its initial tree planting in the 1930s through the present. Several recent Eagle projects have included replanting with native trees. Donations to help replant the Town Forest are tax-deductible. Friends of Reading Scouting is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit. Click on the link below for more information.
All of the remaining red pines in the Town Forest will die. Removing them in a controlled manner before they fall on their own is a matter of public safety. Future phases of this removal of dead red pines and replanting with native trees, shrubs and flowers will help ensure that the health of the Town Forest is restored. Patience with this process by users of the Town Forest will be rewarded.