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JAN SEEGER/Staff photo Stumps remain where large trees stood in the Londonderry Town Forest next to the Town Common.

LONDONDERRY — A quarter-acre of trees has been cleared from the Town Forest to make room for a picnic area.

Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz said the clearing was necessary because the forest had become too thickly populated and there was an overgrowth of the invasive Japanese bittersweet.

"This way, we can get some sun into the under-story for a new crop of trees," Speltz said.

The almost 12-acre forest along Mammoth Road was deeded to the town by the Mack family. It is bordered by a stone wall along the south edge of the Town Common and runs along Moose Hill Orchards to Glenwood Cemetery.

The Town Council first discussed an expansion of the common into the forest to allow for a picnic area, family passive recreation space, walking trails, cross-country skiing and a possible ice rink two years ago.

After approval by the Heritage Commission, selective tree harvesting of diseased trees began as a fire department training exercise.

The Conservation Commission, which oversees the forest, awarded a bid to Monadnock Land Clearing and Chipping of Greenville earlier this year to clear the space just to the left of the Town Common, but spring weather conditions did not allow the project to move ahead.

"The additional space would also allow a less crowded atmosphere for Old Home Day, which centers on the Town Common each August, making room for additional booths," Speltz said.

However, Old Home Day Chairman Kathy Wagner said the committee never requested this.

Conservation Commission Chairman Deb Lievens said the logging won't cost taxpayers anything, since a portion of the money made from the felled trees will be given to the town.

There is a historic stone wall separating the common from the forest and Speltz said the commission will most likely seek approval for creating an opening in the wall to let pedestrians pass.

A law enacted in 1983 makes it a misdemeanor to deface, alter or remove a stone wall that was made for the purpose of designating boundaries or roadways. Since this is town property, Londonderry would have to grant permission to alter the wall.

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