Triangle Land Conservancy's mission is to protect important open space—stream corridors, forests, wildlife habitat, farmland and natural areas—in six Triangle counties to help keep our region a healthy and vibrant place to live and work. Our donors give generously out of love for nature, and TLC seeks the long-term health of this precious resource, never financial gain.
We would have wished for greater balance in Laura Herbst's article "Deep cuts" (cover story, Oct. 12) In 28 years, TLC has permanently conserved more than 15,000 acres of important land. Of this, TLC owns 4,000 acres. Of this, 200 acres—5 percent of what TLC owns—has undergone active forest management. Of those, 155 were thinned to foster the growth of unique trees like white pines, 30 acres were restored to native prairie to promote wildlife habitat, and 15 acres were returned to their historical agricultural use according to stipulations of a land donor's bequest.
TLC's board includes real estate professionals, which is true of most of America's land trusts, because we deal in real estate transactions. Responsible nonprofits maintain boards with skills fundamental to their missions. TLC's board also has a scientist, water quality experts and farmers. All of us—board and staff—are passionate about conservation.
TLC can and will learn from this. Our staff spent a lot of time with the Independent's reporter, yet she created an impression of secrecy and deception. Nothing could be further from our goal. We will examine our policies and practices to ensure that transparent information is available to our donors and the public.
Is our region better off because of TLC? Unequivocally yes. We invite the Independent's readers to visit our lands and judge for themselves. You'll find locations and directions at www.triangleland.org.
Kevin Brice, President
Triangle Land Conservancy, Raleigh
Anne Stoddard, Board Chair
Triangle Land Conservancy, Chapel Hill
This week's article about TLC logging practices was horribly misinformed and dreadfully misrepresented the actions of TLC.
As a graduate student at NCSU in forestry, my research interest lies in Piedmont prairies and coastal plain savannas, which require open (or no canopy) and a regular fire regime. This ecosystem is one of our most imperiled in the state, and a large portion of our endangered wildflowers are found in this type of ecosystem. Because of fire suppression, thinning and clearcutting are the only way to open canopies to provide habitat for sun-loving plants and the insects, birds and mammals that depend upon them.
Perhaps the author would be surprised to learn that Durham County has a federally endangered flower, the smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata), which thrives only in full sunlight, and that pine seeds need full sunlight to germinate. If the author had actually taken time to speak to a forester, conservation biologist or any other natural resource professional, she may have actually learned something about the natural history of the area the Indy claims to represent.
Her article only furthers a mythological past in which European settlers stepped onto an unspoiled, virgin land teeming with fish, game, milk and honey. This sort of pseudo-science writing does not do the Indy, science nor the public any favors.
In "Deep cuts," Laura Herbst gave an unfair portrayal of modern forest management. A general criticism of the Triangle Land Conservancy's (TLC) policy of harvesting trees on its land holdings, she accurately states that "Today in the Triangle, not a single virgin forest is left." Nor will there be "new" virgin forests or old growth forests in N.C. Today's forests suffer from diseases, insects, invasive species, forest fires and hurricanes—threats exacerbated by global warming. A healthy forest IS a managed forest. A managed forest has a management plan developed by a forester (as have the TLC's lands) that may include limited-size clearcuts, thinning, prescribed fire, herbicides and pesticides. The former three reduce the need for the latter two.
It is unlikely that the TLC's 12-acre clearcut was large enough to be profitable. Income from small clearcuts is usually consumed by the cost of building a road to the site, harvesting, site preparation and replanting. But if harvesting is to take place to insure the health of the forest, it only makes sense to sell the timber harvested.
Clearcutting under 100 acres is an acceptable method of forest management—new vegetation grows providing habitat for birds and food for other wildlife. After replanting, new trees shade out other vegetation and another area can be cut, providing a patchwork of wildlife habitat and uneven aged trees, less susceptible to the threats of disease, insects and fire. The plan for replanting is, of course, very important.
Donors to TLC have a right to know how their funds are used and how TLC plans to conserve the land that is purchased or donated. But a preservation approach, hoping that our forests will return to the state they were in hundreds of years ago, is simply not an option.
Dr. Robert D. Brown, Dean
College of Natural Resources
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Laura Herbst's response: Regarding the TLC's 12-acre clearcut along Lake Michie Dam Road: The cut was performed beside a public road, and no logging road was built into the site. Therefore, there was no cost associated with road-building. Also, the TLC's Jeff Masten said the TLC does not plan to replant the site with trees, so there is no replanting cost. In a phone interview, David Halley, the forester who performed the clearcut for the TLC and handled the timber sale, said that a "harvest" of trees such as those in this 85-year-old forest would produce about $2,000 to $3,000 per acre in proceeds.
Editor's note: For more issues raised by readers and responses by Laura Herbst, see the series of comments on the story online.
It would be a tremendous loss for all Chapel Hill residents if we let a bureaucratic oversight deprive us of such a thoughtful, open-minded and hard-working board member as Jamezetta Bedford.
Jamezetta is always willing to ask the tough questions, but never with a leading or attacking style. She consistently looks for the relevant and valid information she needs to make critical decisions. And she can always be found at the center of the critical coalitions that turn talk into action.
My family and I will be supporting Jamezetta because she demonstrates what we see as effective and collaborative leadership.
As a resident of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, I am proud to endorse my friend, Braxton Foushee, for Carrboro Board of Aldermen. Webster's Dictionary defines a servant as "one who serves others." This is a perfect description of Braxton. He has toiled in this community for many years and for many different causes too numerous to name. He is an avid civil/ social rights activist and he values the environment that we live in.
As a citizen and registered voter of Carrboro, I want our aldermen/ alderwomen to be of unquestionable character, caring of ALL residents, transparent, experienced and knowledgeable of our local government. Each of these qualities is possessed by Braxton, who is a lifelong resident of this area. I strongly encourage everyone to cast their ballot for him on Nov. 8 to ensure continued growth and progress for our community.
Lillie P. Atwater
My mailing address is Chapel Hill, but in 2009 when it came time to vote in the Chapel Hill elections, I assumed I was not eligible because my home is in Durham County. I was wrong, and I'm delighted to learn that Chapel Hill residents in Durham County are eligible to vote on Nov. 8 at nearby Creekside Elementary School.
Every election is important, now more than ever, and your vote counts. This year we have some attractive newcomers and some proven incumbents on the Chapel Hill ballot. In particular I am impressed by Matt Czajkowski, who seeks re-election to the city council. His record proves he is not a pawn to special interests, and his extensive business background enables him to create specific plans and programs to benefit all Chapel Hill residents, including those in Durham County.
So on Election Day, everyone just across the county line, although your house and voting place are in Durham County, you are from Chapel Hill and are eligible to vote in the city elections.
Editor's note: More letters about both TLC and elections will be published next week.