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On clear cutting [Jul. 20th, 2012|09:42 am]

As seen on my morning commute, NStar is currently clear cutting large swaths of the MetroWest and other parts of the state. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Suffice to say, many, many residents are upset.[7]  However, there is not a lot of recourse, as NStar has the right of way in these corridors where the high voltage power lines run, claim that the clear cutting is necessary to prevent the sorts of extended blackouts we’ve had in recent years (and saw recently in the Mid-Atlantic region), and that they are about 20 years behind on their standards of tree trimming, so of course residents are going to see changes.

Residents, correctly or not, claim that NStar is well exceeding what is needed to keep these lines safe from tree damage, are damaging healthy parts of the environment, are cutting down trees outside of their right of way, including trees planted by the residents, and in general are being a giant nuisance.  They’re also claiming that NStar is only being this aggressive because it is cheaper to clear cut everything than to do proper maintenance.  In this they might be right, but our governments have ceded that decision to NStar, so it is difficult for complaints to go very far.

I acknowledge that even if complaints do go somewhere, it won’t bring back the thousands of trees and hundreds of acres now cleared of all vegetation more than three feet tall.  My concern going forward is what this is going to do in the future? Are we going to have other environmental concerns now? What about local wildlife? What will happen to this land without adequate vegetation? Is NStar setting themselves up to have telephone lines washed out by erosion now?

And ignoring all that, now we have these wide open spaces with only thin wires overhead.  I suggest NStar put solar panels all along the route, and use this as an opportunity to balance the environmental and societal scales a little.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Boston.com overview, July 19th: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/19/nstar_takes_heat_on_tree_removal_policy/
  2. Burlington, 2011: http://www.wickedlocal.com/burlington/news/x898067416/Residents-upset-over-NSTAR-clear-cutting-trees-in-Burlington
  3. Framingham, May: http://framingham.patch.com/articles/neighborhood-upset-with-nstar-s-tree-cutting
  4. Mashpee (Cape Cod) questioning by a conservator: http://www.capenews.net/communities/mashpee/news/1603
  5. Cape Cod, 2011: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111012/NEWS/110120317
  6. Wayland, June: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/photos/x836125498/PHOTOS-NSTAR-continues-clear-cutting-trees-in-Wayland
  7. Sudbury, June: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/06/26/vandal-hits-crew-clear-cutting-trees-in-sudbury/

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.


[User Picture]From: lightgamer
2012-07-21 01:29 am (UTC)
Actually, powerline corridors are becoming really important wildlife habitat in Massachusetts these days. They're some of the only places where you can reliably find shrubland birds like Brown Thrasher that are decreasing across the state, due to all the old farms being taken over by forest.

It may also be true that NStar are being giant dicks and cutting down trees they don't own, etc., but the cutting down of trees is not automatically an ecological negative.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: laurion
2012-07-23 01:39 am (UTC)
That's actually good to know. Cool! I still wish they were a little more circumspect, or more judicious, but good to know there are other potential balancing factors.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)