AUBURN — Some snoozing Auburn residents got a rude awakening at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday from wood sawing of a different variety when loggers contracted by Manchester Water Works began clearing trees.
Officials at the Water Works say the work is being done to address damage from an infestation of the red pine scale, an invasive species of insect that burrows under the bark of red pine trees to feed and lay their eggs.
A few residents who heard the early-morning timbering along the Maze trail area off Depot Road took to social media to express their views.
“I hear it too and they do start very very early,” said Stephanie Wigglesworth of Auburn in the town’s community Facebook group.
“The weather hasn’t been fair to the loggers this last half of the year,” said Theodore Mongeau, also of Auburn, in the same group. “Starting early in the morning gives them a chance to work on frozen ground. Leave them alone they are just trying to make a living. They’ll be out of the woods soon.”
Auburn does not have a noise ordinance limiting the hours for such work.
The cutting is being done by Green Crow Corp. of Auburn.
The insect was first documented in the Granite State in 2012 at Bear Brook State Park.
According to a 2012 pest alert from the State of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, red pine scale was first recorded in Connecticut in 1946 and was likely introduced to the U.S. on exotic pines planted in New York state during the 1939 World’s Fair.
John O’Neill, a forester for the Water Works, says the insect is responsible for devastating redwood pine forests across the northeast and stated that crews were working to clear infected or potentially infected trees in the Maze area in order to minimize damage that has already taken place.
“We’re taking the trees out because once they die, they’ll become a hazard,” O’Neill said. “They’ll be a falling a safety hazard, a fire hazard and it will be an insect hazard for other wood-boring insects to come in and then start harming healthy trees as well.”
O’Neill, who is overseeing the work being done by Green Crow, said the Water Works did not notify area residents about the potential for early morning noise and verified that he received word of the noise complaints from Auburn Police.
He said the loggers will move their start time to 7 a.m. out of courtesy to residents.
“They get up before the sun comes up like farmers do and that helps to get an early start on the day,” said O’Neill of the loggers.
“This area is kind of out in the wilderness, so we didn’t anticipate we’d disturb anybody. But we’re close with the Auburn PD and they called me immediately to let me know what was going on. We talked it out and adjusted to a start time of 7 a.m.,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that he expects the cutting to go on for an additional 30 to 60 days.
The Maze trail is closed to residents during the weekdays until the timber work is complete.