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Scouts holding meeting Tuesday about forest-management plan at Camp Sinoquipe

February 20, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — The Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America will hold a meeting Tuesday night at Hagerstown Community College to discuss and address concerns about a draft forest-management plan for Camp Sinoquipe in Fulton County, Pa.

Development of the plan, which could result in timbering operations in parts of the nearly 500-acre camp, prompted a group called Concerned Friends of Camp Sinoquipe to start an online petition that had 179 signatures as of Monday. The petition requests “that any projects at Camp Sinoquipe, including the new administration building and logging, be stopped until a town hall meeting can be held.”

Last week, Mason-Dixon Council President Jeanne Singer sent out a letter to membership in the Mason-Dixon Council inviting them to tonight’s meeting.

“The Properties Committee (and Executive Board) of the Mason-Dixon Council recognizes that forest management is a highly emotional issue,” Singer’s letter stated. Certified forester Tom O’Neal, whom the council hired to prepare the plan, will be on hand to answer questions, as will representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources and the council’s board leadership, the letter states.

“It is a draft. It has yet to be presented to the properties committee,” Singer said Monday in a phone interview. The committee could reject, modify or approve the plan as it is before it’s presented to the 100-member board, she said.

The letter was sent to the charter organization representatives who make up the majority of the board and at-large board members, as well as any one who contacted the council with concerns or questions, Singer said.

“That will be part of the discussion, as well as what was done in late 2010,” Singer said, referring to timbering that took place on an area of about 45 acres.

That timbering operation was among concerns raised by callers to The Herald-Mail earlier this month.

“I walked the north end where they did some timber cutting,” David Beale, a Cubmaster for a Needmore, Pa., Cub Scout pack said Monday. “It was not a complete clear cut in that area.”

“I would call it a high-grade cut. You take the best and leave the rest,” Beale said. It did open up areas for seedlings to grow, he said, but that also allows invasive species to grow.

Beale said it will take decades for that area to properly regenerate.

Other petitions have been circulated regarding plans for the camp, Beale said.

The draft plan states that campground areas “are off-limits to any tree-harvesting activity unless there are safety concerns.” The goals are to “maintain a safe natural setting for the true Boy Scout experience” and outdoor education.

Another goal is to maintain a healthy forest through “best timber-management practices to naturally regenerate the next forest for years to come and aid in offsetting the costs of running Camp Sinoquipe.”

The draft includes estimates of number of board feet of varieties of oak, pine, maple and other trees, with a value estimated at more than $575,000.

“Our plan is never to trade timber for money,” Singer said.

The monetary value of the timber was not something the council requested as part of the  plan, she said.

The plan also lists invasive species ranging from Japanese honeysuckle to mile-a-minute weed.

Recommendations for timbering in different parts of the camp range from this year to 10 years from now.

Beale said he had a different forester look over the draft plan. A letter from that forester to Beale raised questions about O’Neal’s report, including recommendations for cutting in wetland areas and the extent of timbering several areas of the camp.

If you go ...

What: Meeting of the Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America to present a draft forest-management plan.

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Community College, Career Programs Building, room 212/214

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