Healing the wounds in Cohasset

Local environmentalist and member of the Lassen Forest Preservation Group
Cohasset residents were outraged toward the end of last month when a logging operation cleared more than 260 trees from the forested Cohasset Elementary School grounds in what was described to the Chico Unified School District (CUSD) as a maintenance project.

The operation was halted temporarily on a technicality, and the pause in timber harvest gave the community and CUSD operations personnel a chance to meet on the campus to discuss the issue. The community folks vented some steam, and CUSD recognized the cutting was much more than the removal of a few sick trees. Maintenance and Operations Chief Mary Leary agreed that before more trees were dropped an arborist would inspect the stand and come up with a specific plan to deal with the problem trees without clear-cutting the remaining forest.

Citizens have formed the Cohasset Residents Committee (CRC) to assess the need for rehabilitation of the acres decimated by the misguided project and to pursue trying to recover some of the money from the 24 loads of logs that were taken from the land by the logger. They feel that they have presented their complaints to the district and that the next step is to suggest solutions.

Several of the committee members have a long history of dealing with public agencies, and they believe that the best outcome is possible only with the cooperation of CUSD. They have initiated a positive process, suggesting the idea of locals participating in reforestation/playground planning.

Another priority for the committee is to encourage the school board to come up with a formal district policy addressing the removal of trees from any of the district’s school grounds. The calm and rational attitude of the community is a welcome approach to the beleaguered district. Officials are expressing their desire to mitigate the tragedy and work cooperatively with the residents.

What happened shouldn’t have happened. There is no doubt that the Cohasset community’s concern will prevent such a catastrophe from happening in their neighborhood ever again.

The district has been taken advantage of, and Cohasset school grounds were damaged. What the Cohasset Elementary campus needs now are loving care and district assistance to help heal the wounds. The CRC expects that its positive approach will yield excellent results for the campus and the entire school district.

Those residents needing more information on the CRC’s efforts may contact the committee’s chair, Loretta J. Metcalf, at 345 7532 or email: lmetcalf@csuchico.edu.