Carlisle–Chelmsford Cranberry Bog Subcommittee confer

Representatives from the Joint Chelmsford-Carlisle Cranberry Bog Subcommittee convened on Monday, June 4 at Carlisle Town Hall. The subcommittee discussed the peer review status as it pertains to the alternative uses of the bog and the water rights addressed in a recent letter from Chelmsford’s Conservation Commission (ConsCom). Chelmsford ConsCom Chair David McLachlan was on hand to represent Chelmsford.

The joint committee periodically discusses conservation issues of mutual concern regarding the 310 acres of protected woods, ponds and bog that straddles the border between Carlisle (151 acres) and Chelmsford (159 acres). The actual cranberry bog is a 40-acre area that lies within Carlisle.

Alternative uses for the land

Growing cranberries at the bog is no longer economically viable due to small harvests and low cranberry prices and the Carlisle Cranberry Bog Alternative Committee (CBAC) has been exploring other alternatives for the use of this land. CBAC has identified ten possible alternatives detailed in the report Alternatives for the Future of Carlisle’s Cranberry Bog 2017. (To view the report in its entirety: http://www.carlislema.gov/Pages/CarlisleMA_concomm/Alternatives%20for%20the%20Future%20of%20Carlisle%27s%20Cranberry%20Bog%202017 .

Initially, CBAC recommended Alternative #5 - Convert to Other Agricultural Use, but was met with some concern from other committee members. As the cranberry bog is a popular spot for town residents, feedback and comments from the community were advised.

A peer review panel was initiated by Carlisle’s ConsCom in April of this year to review the report and provide feedback or recommendations on the alternatives. This panel is comprised of seven reviewers with varying backgrounds ranging from a hydrogeologist to a wetland scientist. While assessing the report, the reviewers were asked to address such questions as: “Do you concur with the recommendation made by CBAC and (or) would you recommend modifications to it? Do you prefer a different alternative, either one stated or unstated in the CBAC report?”

To date, five of the peer reviews have been received. Once all reviews are in, Carlisle’s ConsCom will compile a summary report and also obtain input from the community as to what they would like to see become of the cranberry bog. It is then up to ConsCom to decide on the future use of the bog. (See related article, page 5.)

Water rights

McLachlan addressed the subcommittee regarding a March 26 letter he sent to CBAC Co-Chair Warren Lyman on behalf of Chelmsford’s ConsCom on Carlisle’s water rights at the bog. The issue at hand is the use of the Upper Pond, located on Chelmsford’s side and utilized by Carlisle. If its continued use is necessary, Chelmsford’s ConsCom believes that Carlisle should have the responsibility for maintenance. 

As CBAC is still evaluating the alternative uses for the bog, and unsure of its water use, the joint subcommittee agreed that the water rights issue can be addressed at a later time. 

The Joint Chelmsford–Carlisle Cranberry Bog Subcommittee will meet again on January 7, 2019. ∆