It’s a Shame, Either Way

To the editor:

I was saddened to read in the December 16 Gazette that Gary Bellavance plans to clear cut the 40 acres he owns on Buffalo Mountain. His decision, it appears, was motivated by a large property tax bill and pique at citizens who objected to AT&T’s plans to erect a cell tower at the top of the mountain.

I can well imagine the property tax bill he faces is onerous. I don’t begrudge him the burden he faces.

Who knows why AT&T made its decision to withdraw its permit application? Buffalo Mountain was a proposed cell tower site in the 1990s — amply documented in the Gazette. Both those supporting the most recent plans and the current objections have a familiar ring. That’s democracy. And corporate planners and decision makers are not naïve nor oblivious.

Yes, Buffalo Mountain might be an ideal site for a cell tower because of its visibility. Its visibility is also reason it would be a shame were it to be clear cut.

The mountain, a defining image for Hardwick, is also home to wildlife, from deer, to bear, perhaps a moose or two, to fox, to many birds, to wild mushrooms, and its many species of trees. There are hiking trails, spots to hunt, and to sit and contemplate the surrounding countryside.

The mountain’s colors change with the season, from shades of green in the spring, to summer’s deep hues, to brilliant red, yellow and orange in autumn. And, yes, even the grays and blacks of late fall have beauty under changing skies and sunsets over its ridges as that canvas gives way to the rich contrasts of winter’s white blanketing the trees on its slopes.

All that will be lost if the mountain is hewed, to be replaced with gashes in the soil, muddy tracks, to become a barren hill lacking a richness of life that holds and reflects the change of the seasons.

Might there be a different solution than clear cutting? Are conservation easements available through a land trust that might lessen the tax burden? Land was saved in Hardwick and surrounding towns because of recognition of the public nature of private spaces. Are there examples that worked elsewhere that might work here?

Yes, trees will grow back after a clear cut but how many generations will miss the beauty and vibrancy of a forest between when it is removed and returns?

Ross Connelly