CHINA — Trustees for the Kennebec Water District on Thursday decided to modify their plan for harvesting trees along China Lake based on a letter from a group of abutters and others who help manage the lake.

After receiving the letter last month the trustees met with district staff and opted to make three changes to the harvesting plan on lakeside land the district owns on the South Narrows peninsula. Those changes have to do with the shoreland zone, which is land that’s within 250 feet of the lake.

 

But Phillip deMaynadier, a founding member of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust and one of the people who signed the letter, told trustees at their meeting Thursday that there should also be a no-harvesting buffer within 100 feet of the high-water mark of China Lake to better protect water quality.

The recommendations provided in the letter were based on guidance from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, and the town of China’s comprehensive plan, deMaynadier said.

“The letter by the signatories that was offered wasn’t a bunch of tree-huggers,” he said.

Roger Crouse, the water district’s general manager, disagreed with deMaynadier’s argument that no harvesting should be allowed within 100 feet of the high-water mark.

“I don’t think it’s in our best interest to have no harvesting in the 100-foot zone,” Crouse said.

As an alternative, trustees agreed to cut no more than 35% of the trees within 100 feet of the lake.

Other changes were provisions to prevent harvesting in areas with steep slopes to avoid the destabilization of soils. Trustees also agreed not to remove more than 30% of the timber from the land.

The trustees voted in 2019 to have its property along the lake included as part of the state’s Tree Growth Tax Program, which would allow the district to receive tax credits totaling up to $40,000 a year, Crouse previously said.

Lawmakers in 1972 adopted tax incentives to help landowners maintain the property as productive woodlands and support Maine’s wood products industry, according to information provided by the Maine Forest Service.

The law gives landowners eligible for the program tax credits for creating a woodland management plan that includes “well-planned harvests over time.”

Trustee Allan Fuller was the only one of the 10 board members to vote against the plan, saying he wants to walk the proposed harvest area with the board and those who signed the letter.

The board also approved a site walk for this summer to evaluate how the tree harvesting is progressing.

Crouse said there is no guarantee that trees will be harvested this winter because the plan still has to be approved by the towns of China and Vassalboro.

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