Friday, May 16, 2003
Conservation Commission moves ahead on pilot forest project
Although forest management has been on the Conservation Commmission's agenda nine times between 1993 and 1997, according to Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard there has been no follow-up on the discussions that occurred during those years. That is about to change. Following a recent presentation by the New England Forestry Foundation, ConsCom unanimously agreed to look into a pilot forest management project and is in the process of drawing up a Request for Proposal (RFP) that will include goals for the project. Whatever site is selected, it is expected that once the project is under way it will be self-sustaining through revenue from timber harvest. The possibility of making money from town-owned property is a new consideration for the commission. However, they will need seed money to get started with the pilot project, for consultation, planning, etc., and private sources have suggested they could make seed money available.
While the commission did not make a final decision on the site for the pilot project, they did discuss the relative merits of Greenough Land and the existing town forest site. Brian Donahue, who is associated with the environmental studies program at Brandeis, has offered to take commissioners on a walk through Weston's sustainable forest project and the commissioners plan to do that as a way of becoming better informed about forest land as a part of conservation lands. "Our responsibility is to manage our lands" was a statement made several times during the discussion. Commissioner Tricia Smith volunteered to write an RFP for the pilot study. The pilot project discussion will be continued in future meetings. The commission felt that public input will modify the plan as it moves forward.
Old Morse Road Trail
The sunken culvert on the Old Morse Road trail continues to engage ConsCom attention. At the March 27 meeting (Mosquito April 11, p. 13) they learned that there is a problem that is ConsCom's responsibility to correct (because the land is under a conservation restriction). That meeting ended with the statement, "We need to see how to go forward." At their most recent meeting on May 8, the commission considered the problem with Steve Tobin, George Fardy and Louise Hara from the Trails Committee, Mary Ann Kitrosser from the Historical Commission and abutters Norman and Piper Lind.
The trail is presently under water and there are potholes from washed-out or displaced stones. Water tends to back up and create flooding. It is not safe, particularly for horses, because of the potholes, and the area has been posted. The safety issue is of primary concern to the Trails Committee and the ConsCom, and the historically appropriate nature of the repair is of primary importance to the Historical Commission and the abuttors, though everyone agrees the solution has to be a safe one and everyone favors a rustic or non-intrusive type of repair.
There are no available plans for the original culvert design. Hara thinks it is "basically an old box culvert. The rocks shifted back and a section of stone lodged in the culvert," but Piper Lind said, "That's in theory," and stated they could never find any proof of a culvert. There are only a few photographs showing the original construction, which is a problem for those seeking an historically appropriate solution. The problem that has to be solved to make the trail safe and passable is to permit the water to flow through and not flood, and also to repair the surface so there is safe footing. Kitrosser says the Historical Commission would like to see it kept rustic on the surface so that in some way the character of the space could be kept. The Linds agreed; they "want to see it the way it was before. We should love to have the water flow through."
A possible solution to the problem was suggested by Tobin, who thought the flow could be bypassed to the north and Curve Street end and the culvert put there. Then the present rustic culvert, which cannot handle the total flow, could be maintained. Commissioner John Lee liked Tobin's suggestion and said he thought the group had made substantial progress and added that "we need to continue to look and come back."
The discussion will continue at the May 22 meeting.
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