Clear-cutting trees on a property can have several negative impacts on neighboring properties and local surface water resources. Fortunately, municipal bylaws are in place to prevent clear-cutting within 50, 100, and 200 feet of our wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams. Unfortunately, these laws are often overlooked or outright violated by private landowners.
Clear-cutting removes all the trees right up to a riverfront or wetland area, which can result in the loss of habitat for many aquatic or semi-aquatic species that depend on trees for food, shelter, and breeding. This can lead to a decline in biodiversity in our area and viability of the water source.
Trees play a crucial role in preventing soil erosion by holding the soil in place with their roots. Clear-cutting removes this natural protection for our surface water and can lead to soil erosion, which can harm aquatic ecosystems and degrade water quality. When the surface of water bodies becomes blanketed in sediment, it reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the water, disrupting the natural food chain by destroying the habitat where the smallest stream organisms live and causing massive declines in fish populations.
Clear-cutting can contribute to cyanobacteria blooms in our local bodies of water, as trees filter sediments and agricultural and yard-waste run-off into the water. Cyanobacteria is a toxic and harmful form of algae that immediately prevents people from swimming or fishing in or drinking from a source of surface water.
Clear-cutting can also have a significant impact on the aesthetic and property values of neighboring residents, and generally degrades quality of life in a neighborhood.
Our local Conservation Commissions are charged with upholding our local Wetlands Protective Bylaws, which prevent clear-cutting around a water source. Please contact your local Conservation Commission if you have concerns about this issue or want to get involved.