Byram Council Reaches Agreement on Forestry Services

| 20 Feb 2019 | 11:04

    By Mandy Coriston
    Byram - Conversation begun at Byram’s Jan. 2, 2019, annual reorganization meeting, about forestry services, continued at the Tuesday, Feb. 19 Town Council meeting. Councilman Harvey Roseff had initially questioned the measure, and the decision was made to table the talks until after the 2019 budget could be laid out and Open Space funding assured.
    However, when Tuesday’s meeting agenda reached the items involving the forestry resolutions- 055-2019 (need to hire) and 056-2019 (scope of work and cost)- it was Councilman David Gray, not Roseff, who first spoke against the initiative. If passed, the resolutions would name Farr Forestry, LLC, based in Newfoundland, as the town’s contracted forester.
    “I just don’t see how we can spend $23,000 on forestry,” Gray said, “when we need other things to be done as far as rec (recreation) and Open Space.”
    Roseff agreed, saying, “I think we need to rethink the way we do things. $23,000 is a large amount. Considering our cash flow, can’t we stand back and favor other areas for this year?”
    Roseff proposed putting the forestry issue on the back burner and putting attention on other projects, such as recreational facilities. “Maybe we need to break the focus on ‘being green’,” he said, “It may be leading to our other facilities breaking down.”
    Councilman Scott Olson, however, was firmly behind approving the contracting of forestry services.
    “I think we all know where I stand on this,” Olson said. “We can’t just focus our money in one place. It’s about maintaining all our assets. Our prior long-term stewardship plan addressed this.” Olson also expressed fear that someone could be seriously injured if the town doesn’t get a jump on woodland management as the emerald ash borer becomes more prevalent in the area.
    John Morytko, a member of the town’s Planning Board and that board’s representative on the Open Space Committee. Morytko gave an impassioned statement to the Council in favor of passing the resolutions to retain a forester.
    “The services that are laid out here are very specific,” Morytko said, referring to the scope of work laid out by Ron Farr of Farr Forestry Services, LLC. “This is strategic management to remove invasive species and take care of our assets.”
    “We need to see our trails and open spaces as assets and investments,” Morytko continued, “We put a lot of emphasis on bio and eco-tourism here. Our trails are a big draw. If we prioritize good maintenance, that’s good stewardship- and good stewardship is a good investment.”
    Farr Forestry Services provided a schedule of work to be done in 2019, which includes the removal of invasive barberry bushes (which heavily attract ticks) along the town’s trails, as well as managing woodlots, planning stewardship of more recently acquired parcels, and overseeing the removal of white ash trees in response to the emerald ash borer.
    The public discussion came to a close with the remarks from a young man named John Lutz. Stepping to the microphone, he asked that the council pass the resolution to retain Farr Forestry.
    “I’d really like to see the forestry be done,” Lutz said. “I’ve played Little League and soccer on all the town fields, and a lot of parents use the time to walk the trails while their kids are playing and practicing.”
    “I think the parks and the forests go hand in hand,” he explained, “and if people are worried about trees falling, or getting Lyme disease, they aren’t going to want their kids to play on the fields, either.”
    In the end, the Council passed both Resolutions 055-2019 and 056-2019 to contract Farr Forestry for the duration of 2019, with all members but Roseff voting ‘yes’ to the measure.
    Tuesday evening’s council meeting did not include discussion regarding the municipal building, as the last scheduled subcommittee meeting was postponed due to weather. The Municipal Building Subcommittee and Township Council will hold a joint meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 at the municipal complex. Residents are encouraged to attend that meeting, as well as all Town Council meetings, the next of which will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, also at the municipal complex.