The Dec. 21 article “Residents express concern with plan” regarding a proposed harvest of trees on property owned by the Kennebec Water District along the shore of China Lake mentioned concern by abutters, including a Colby College professor, particularly with the possibility of up to 40% of the trees within the shoreland zone being harvested. The abutters urged a lighter cut to keep intact a more protective water quality buffer.

As a Maine licensed forester and soil scientist, who worked for the state for almost 34 years, I urged all involved to consider the size of the trees and the quality of the soil. Trees that are allowed to grow very large are subject to windthrow when they grow on steep slopes or soils that force shallow rooting depth such as shallow to dense hardpans, shallow to bedrock or with a high seasonal groundwater table.

If a large tree is cut, its roots will remain in the soil, keeping it in place and preventing erosion. If a large tree with shallow roots is blown over, its large root wad will be exposed as will the soil from which it came, causing sediment to wash into the lake.

Sediment is the primary source of phosphorous in lakes and ponds, the main ingredient for causing algal blooms. It’s important to base a harvest plan, particularly in the shoreland zone, on the size of trees, the soils, and the slope of the land.

Protecting the soil in the shoreland zone is as important as protecting the tree cover when considering water quality issues. As state soil scientist, I provided technical advice for such harvests. I would be happy to discuss this further with any interested party.


David Rocque


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