Friday, March 22, 2002
ConsCom reviews three trail-clearing projects
At its March 14 meeting the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) scheduled a wide-ranging site walk to check on the extent of trail deterioration on the east side of town. The decision followed an advisory from trails committee leaders Louise Hara and Steve Tobin, that was delivered at ConsCom's February 28 session.
The first trouble spot on Hara's list was a former parking area off Bedford Road where the town's Davis Corridor path begins and runs through thick woodland to Malcolm Meadows and the Two Rod Road gateway to Estabrook Woods.The site was once a grassy clearing where cars could pull off and park but, over the years, has become so overgrown that it totally obscures the trail entrance. Comparing present-day and former photographs, commissioner Peter Burn sighed, "Ah yes, that was where you parked your Model A."
Hara reported that department of public works superintendent Gary Davis has offered to chip whatever timber is cut down, and the trails committee volunteered to help. However, as Hara observed, "Basically, it's up to ConsCom."
The second victim of chronically tight maintenance budgets was at Foss Farm, where out-of-control pine tree growth and underbrush are encroaching on a field and a major trail used by hikers, horses and sled dogs. The open areas are narrowing by about a foot-and-a half a year, an observation confirmed by Ken Harte, who said the changes pose a serious threat to prime bird habitat. Carlisle Conservation Foundation president Art Milliken weighed in, stressing the importance of keeping trails clear, from a public relations point of view.
Access to O'Rourke Land
The trails committee's third request was for assistance in blazing a new pathway to shorten the hike required to access riverside paths on the former O"Rourke property, now controlled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At present the public must come in from the parking lot at either the Greenough Conservation Land or Foss Farm, a long trek for small children and many elders.
Under the state's Open Meeting law, the commission cannot determine policy or take a vote in the course of a site walk. Hence, an action plan must await a posted meeting on March 28.
The commission agonized over a request from their administrative assistant Francine Amari-Faulkner who sought an endorsement of a petition signed by seventeen voters requesting the board of selectmen to include a nest-protection article in the Warrant for the May 6 Town Meeting, i.e.: "It is prohibited to clear land of trees and shrubbery for new construction during brooding and nesting season, which includes March 15 through June 30."
Amari-Faulkner informed the commission that she had consulted Massachusetts Audubon, the New England Forestry Foundation, the state forester and the Fish and Wildlife Service and ascertained that the earliest-nesting owls set up housekeeping in late March, while the first brood of most other species are fledged by the end of June. She also pointed out that the best time to clear land is pre-March 15, and in any case, the regulation would not affect present homeowners.
Commissioner Jo Rita Jordan backed the research by relating her own experiences when a neighbor cut down a stand of trees in springtime and a flock of vocal birds gathered in her yard "terribly upset." Chairman, and devoted birder, Tom Brownrigg added that the proposal "makes good sense," and even if it doesn't succeed at Town Meeting, it might make present and prospective homeowners aware of the problem.
Considering town opinion
Commissioners Burn and John Lee expressed philosophical understanding but advised that it was probably unwise to bring the matter up at what promises to be a contentious Town Meeting. Commissioner John Beakley then articulated the pragmatic concerns that clearly lay just below the surface for most of his colleagues, when he said he was reluctant to back what would be viewed by many as nuisance regulation. In his view the commission should concentrate on broader issues, such as protection of substantial habitat resources.
Thus conflicted, and wishing the petitioners "good luck," the board took no official action.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito