Massport has appeared before the Bedford Conservation Commission twice this fall, on October 9 and October 23, 2019, to discuss their NOI (notice of intent) for removal of vegetative penetrations of protected airspace at Hanscom Field. These obstructions have been identified as belonging to approximately 189 trees located within Jordan Conservation Area. The Commission has received a variety of maps associated with this project — maps with white, blue, green, yellow, and red dots; maps with yellow zones; and maps with tree numbers. The Commission asked for the trees in Jordan to be marked with ribbons so that members and the public could see which trees are being targeted for management.
When the tree flagging was completed, Massport agreed to a walk-through in Jordan for Nov. 12, 2019. In attendance were Massport’s Jim Stolecki, Stantech’s Greg Cohen, Allan Wirth and Lori Eggert of the Commission, and some Bedford citizens. Greg distributed data sheets with tree numbers and penetration values. I and citizen volunteers tabulated the penetration data and surveyed the tree types (pine, oaks, maples etc.) Based on our data analysis and research on pruning techniques and deer deterrence, I would like to offer three recommendations for this VMP.
Recommendation 1: Massport should reduce the number of trees targeted from 189 to 100
Take the category blue trees out of consideration. These have negative penetrations, being 5-10 ft below the protected surface. If we permit all these trees to be topped and/or pruned, Jordan is going further down the road of not being a forest anymore. Consider the fate of the white pines. They are slowly being eliminated from Jordan through these VMPs. Let the 11 non-penetrating pines remain. The forest needs to have some pine trees for wildlife that rely on that species.
Recommendation 2: Prune intelligently, with the goal of saving the tree
The town should hire an ISA trained arborist or forestry expert to evaluate the viability of each tree that is facing the chainsaw. For example, a pine might survive a few feet of topping. If the topping is severe, then the tree will die. Furthermore, those doomed pines should be prevented from falling onto the trails.
Of the 112 penetrating deciduous trees (oaks, maples) give the 34 specimen trees, the most magnificent ones in the Jordan, the most effort with pruning. Again, I’d like to see a town-hired arborist make the call as to how to prune these trees to guarantee their survival.
Recommendation 3: Mitigate so Jordan remains a forest.
Fill in the canopy gaps with lower-growing, deer-resistant replacement trees.
A forestry expert can see the whole picture and recommend what trees could establish a lower growing canopy, especially where the dead pines have left big holes. Plant 100 red maples or a combination of other trees mentioned in the deer resistant literature. I’ve researched wholesale prices for 4-ft tall maples. These are not exorbitant. Ensure the young trees‘ survival by using the deer repellant to be discussed at the next Conservation Commission meeting.
In conclusion, everyone realizes that the role of Jordan is many faceted. It’s a jurisdictional responsibility for the Conservation Commission, a source of walking trails for Bedford citizens, a habitat for wildlife, an important noise buffer for light, noise and air pollution for Hanscom abutters, and an obstacle for the airport. Surely we can find middle ground to satisfy these concerns. No party is going to be thrilled by what we decide to do with the trees in Jordan, but we should be conscientious in coming up with a plan that all of us can live with.