Preserving Mattison Hollow (August 12, 2016)
The Taconic Hiking Club (THC) and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) are partnering to preserve Mattison Hollow from a logging operation planned by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
One of the most beautiful sections in the entire Taconic Crest Trail (TCT) system, Mattison Hollow is a pristine area with high recreational, historical and ecological value. It possesses unique features that need to be protected from the ravages of a massive logging operation:
The trail offers a wilderness hiking experience within an hour drive of Albany. Hikers can use it to access the TCT or enjoy it as a destination in its own right.
Crystal clear Kronk Brook is the only significant water source for TCT backpackers. Notable for its beautiful waterfalls, the brook also represents a potential source for local residents if more wells become polluted from industrial waste.
Water purity is maintained by significant stand of hemlocks, which shade the stream and protect it from erosion. It is possible that this old-growth hemlock stock may be saved from the wooley algid disease and used to propagate replacement hemlocks for those areas devastated by the disease.
Historic sites in the area include remnants of the old inclined railroad and charcoal kilns used in the 1870 and 1880s, and the foundation of a former farmstead, “Collins Lot.” Reference: page 114 of “Natural Areas of Rensselaer County”, Second Edition, 2002, Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady.
The increasing popularity of this trail is an economic benefit to businesses such as the nearby Stewart’s convenience store and local cafés.
Volunteers have spent countless hours of work maintain this trail.
On August 3, 2016, a group of us met with Rob Messenger, DEC’s Chief of the Bureau of State Land Management. Our group included Neil Woodworth, ADK Executive Director; Martha Waldman, THC President; and four other ADK and THC representatives. The meeting was arranged so we could walk the trail with Rob and express our concerns regarding DEC’s plans to log 600 acres of the 1200 acre hollow.
Rob explained that the purpose of the logging is to harvest oak and white pine timber on the steep bank above the trail. In order to do this, DEC intends to convert part of the trail into a road suitable for heavy trucks. It would run from the existing trailhead on Mattison Hollow Road to a large landing area approximately ¼ mile up the trail. This would mean the destruction of old-growth hemlocks and other trees and a massive excavation of the upper side of the ravine. Skidders would be used on the trail beyond the landing.
We pointed out that, without the protection of the hemlocks, the Kronk Brook would suffer irreparable damage from erosion and silting. Moreover, reforestation is highly questionable due to the overgrazing of deer and large areas of fern, which would prevent new tree growth. This project would benefit neither hikers nor the local community.
DEC’s rationale for choosing this site is that, since the trail was originally an old logging road, they seem to feel they are somehow returning the trail to a prior use. We feel that nothing could be further from the truth. The horse and ox teams of past logging bear little resemblance to the massive vehicles necessary for the DEC plan.
We believe that a State Environmental Quality Review is needed to fully reveal and understand the negative consequences of a logging operation in this area.
DEC is not required to specifically log in Mattison Hollow. We feel there are other state forests within Region 4 that could be logged instead of Mattison Hollow.
We will continue to work towards preserving Mattison Hollow, and we will reach out to our membership for help when needed. Contactmartha829r@aol.com if you would like to help or if you have any questions or concerns.
UPDATE, September 2016: DEC has promised to not to issue any requests for bids for timber sales on the Mattison Hollow parcel until a decision has been made whether or not to conduct any logging at all on the Mattison Hollow tract as they develop a Unit Management Plan for the Taconic Ridge State Forest Complex. The draft Unit Management Plan must be published and open for public comment before it becomes final. We will continue to monitor this.
UPDATE, May 22, 2017: DEC is still working on the Unit Management Plan. We are continuing to monitor this to ensure logging is never allowed in Mattison Hollow.
UPDATE, August 27, 2017: Same as previous update.
UPDATE, November 29, 2017: Same as previous updates.