What a difference a year makes. I thought last May that the best solution would be to leave the trees, and install the first security camera. I had said that to stay roughly on the fence about it, like I did with the pipeline down in South Jersey--I could never muster up the anger enough to oppose it. It seemed innocuous to me. Now, with the trees by the fire tower, I have no strong emotions either way. Change is inevitable. It's not like they plan to build on the property. Natives will take over.
Bob, stances taken after long consideration are usually the most rational ones. I always wince when the term "destruction" is used for tree removal or forest clearing. Nobody does that when a cornfield is harvested. It is only truly destruction when it is followed by development, which you pointed out is not the case here. When it comes to the environment, good individuals with the best of intentions too-often take knee-jerk stances on issues. We've all been taught for a long time that trees and forests are good, just as Smokey has taught generations that fire is bad. While many here have differing opinions on how prescribed burning is implemented by the state, most of us agree that fire in the pine barrens is not a bad thing. That comes from the higher level of knowledge and experience spread across the members of this forum, compared to the average letter to the editor elsewhere, for example
My feeling is that acceptance of the benefits of limited forest clearing and thinning is just lagging behind that of fire by a few decades. Your knowledge of botany tells you that an open bog is going to have a totally different plant and even animal component of species than a dense cedar stand will. Not better, just different. The same is true of upland forests. A clearing such as suggested around the tower might be too small to establish a wild quail population but would certainly be good habitat for birds such as bluebirds, as well as invertebrates such as butterflies. Many of these species have become rare and listed as T&E species due to a decrease in their preferred habitat.Various grasses and sedges will flourish if the site is maintained as an open habitat, providing food to numerous animal species. If trees are allowed to grow back, a different habitat will result, gradually changing until perhaps needing to be cut again a century from now. Each stage of that habitat will have a slightly different value to plant and animal species as succession progresses.
If this was being done purely for habitat management reasons, I'd be among the first to suggest choosing a nearby site that was not inhabited by what is now considered a historic and charismatic stand of trees. But it is being done for a more pragmatic reason and rather than not seeing the forest for the trees, I just try to make lemonade when life offers lemons. The acreage of remaining CCC-planted trees will be far larger than the suggested clearing at Bass River. There are far bigger environmental fish to fry elsewhere.