Plan to kill beech trees in Chautauqua is a mistake
As a professional forester and ecologist with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I am opposed to the massacre of American beech trees in a Chautauqua forest.
First, because of the fungal disease. How do foresters know that the larger trees they are killing are not ones that have developed some genetic resistance to the disease and could be the beginning of beech rightfully reasserting itself back into our forests?
This is important for the second issue. Beech produces important mast (nut crops) that are vital to game and non-game wildlife such as turkey, squirrels, bear and deer. Deer may not browse the leaves and twigs, but they love the nuts!
My third issue is also related to the first. Rather than bettering the diversity of the forest, they are decreasing it to favor early successional (light-loving) tree species, like cherry and red maple, while removing a shade-loving tree like the beech, which adds both species and structural diversity to the forest. While I am not opposed to removing some beech, care must be taken to preserve diversity and the benefits of beech in a forest.
Lastly, I am concerned about the use of carcinogenic herbicides and the lack of opportunity for public input into this project. Was a state environmental quality review conducted, and how was it noticed to the public? If not, why not?
Given the near extinction of American chestnut, elm and now species of ash from our forests and woodlands, it is not the time for humans to add another.