The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 1, 2001


CCF funds 200 sheep to mow Towle Field

Conservation property management took up a large portion of the May 24 conservation commission (ConsCom) meeting, beginning with the latest news from the sheep-grazing front. The commissioners were happy to learn that finances have been obtained to move ahead with a plan to hire a flock of 200 wooly ruminantscomplete with electric fence, sheep dog and shepherd to see if the hungry animals can help keep area conservation lands relatively free of invasive plants.

Following a May 14 meeting in Concord where funding was pledged from the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), Concord Natural Resources Commission, Minuteman National Park and Concord Conservation Land Trust, Carlisle's Towle Field was included in the experiment. Sheep owner and head of Granite State Bellweather Solutions Dick Henry tramped the Westford Street conservation land with conservation administrator Sylvia Willard and representatives of the participating organizations to assess the work ahead.

Appetite for poison ivy

The major problems the ConsCom hopes Henry's picturesque munchers can solve are poison ivy encroachment and the hitherto unstoppable buckthorn proliferation. Henry suggested that the flock might work the field early in the summer and then return in late fall for an insurance run. However, worries about disturbing the resident bobolinks before their young have fledged in early August or destroying known patches of rare wild flowers demanded a more cautious approach. Therefore, the commission will take a species inventory and come up with a map indicating what areas the sheep should concentrate on and when.

According to CCF president Art Milliken, a draft agreement is being prepared. Although Carlisle's portion of the funding, or $5,000, is coming from CCF, the project will require a permit from the town acknowledging the terms of the contract to be signed by that private organization. ConsCom's map will be completed in early June.

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