Calls to curb logging in Maryland's largest publicly owned forest dominated an open hearing in Catonsville last night, contrasting with the vocal pro-logging crowd that turned out Wednesday in Oakland.
Nearly all of the more than 100 people who attended last night's hearing at Catonsville Community College urged the state Department of Natural Resources to ban logging in most, if not all, of the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County.
State forestry officials have drafted a 10-year management plan that would leave 55 percent of the 53,000-acre forest open to logging. That is a reduction of as much as 25 percent in the land now available for timber sales.
But speaker after speaker called on the state to further limit logging, and some attacked tree-cutting practices, such as clear-cutting. Some represented environmental groups; others said they were simply nature lovers who visited the forest.
"Taking trees out of the state forests is like taking sand from Ocean City," said Sidney Turner, a Baltimore County resident.
The plan calls for barring logging along roads, on steep slopes and in wooded areas that drain into streams. Some criticized the plan for allowing roads to be built in those areas, noting that trees would have to be cut for construction.
About 10,000 acres of the forest have been logged since 1979, said Glen Besa, a Sierra Club member from Flintstone. He urged the state to emphasize recreation and preservation of the forest for wildlife.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.