IN A LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR penned by Fire Chief Greg Cox and signed by the Hawley Selectboard, the Town has criticized the pending purchase of privately-owed woodlands in the Dubuque State Forest by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as an example of “backward” priorities. “Rather than buying . . . land it cannot afford to maintain, the state should concentrate on caring for the land it already owns,” the letter states.
The letter goes on. “While Hawley has a long history of supporting conservation, our residents have become increasingly unhappy with the state continuing to buy land due to concerns about the loss of productive tax base, the state’s failure to maintain the roads and trails on the state lands, and the state’s unwillingness to work with the town on conservation methods and priorities.”
A number of examples of DCR maintenance failures and their consequences are cited, including:
♦ The inability of first responders to react quickly to accidents and injuries in the Dubuque State Forest because of impassable roads and gates that are locked due to dangerous conditions;
♦ The total impassability of most of Middle Road, despite several false starts by DCR to repair it; and,
♦ The fact that the only road work that has been completed by DCR over the past several years is that which is “. . . done as part of timber sales on state lands to help get the wood out” (i.e., generate direct revenue for the Commonwealth).
Given these and related issues, the letter asks Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito to do four things:
“1.) Stop the purchase of . . . [the] woodland on Middle Road by DCR and any other purchases of land in Hawley by DCR, Mass Wildlife or other state agencies.
“2.) Require DCR to create a firm timetable on when the damaged section of Middle Road will be fixed and make sure it allocates the funds to get it done.
“3.) Require [that] each state conservation agency meet and discuss with local officials what the state’s conservation priorities are within that town, what the local conservation concerns and priorities are, and what conservation method is most appropriate for that town, before allowing any additional land purchases by the state.
“4.) Ask each community every year what the town’s most urgent need for state assistance is.”
For a complete text of the letter, click HERE.