Friday, October 21, 2005
ConsCom ready to launch Land Stewardship Committee
The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) is moving "with all deliberate speed" to implement the report of its ad hoc Land Stewardship Planning Committee (Planning Committee) that was approved last month. The 7:30 a.m. Conservation Coffee on October 11 was devoted to consideration of the Commission's decision to appoint a permanent Land Stewardship Committee to help protect, maintain and enhance over 1,000 acres of town-owned conservation lands.
The first question that generally arises is, "But isn't that the Commission's job?" In the final analysis the answer is "Yes." But the Carlisle Conservation Commission, like those in other area towns, has found that fulfillment of its increasingly complex legal responsibilities to administer and enforce the state's Wetland Protection Act has left little time or funding for adequate management of the town's open space parcels. Experience has convinced them of the need for year-to-year monitoring to protect against careless human use, spot incipient threats from invasive fauna and flora, keep fields open and forests healthy, and to encourage residents to enjoy the natural wealth which we have inherited. In short,the town cannot count on another gift of several hundred sheep and a guard dog to do the job for us.
Planning Committee Chairman Warren Lyman gave a brief summary of the approved plan which he termed "a framework, not a blueprint, and one that is expected to evolve." The new committee will probably include a representative each from ConsCom and the Trails Committee, one or two volunteers knowledgeable in such areas as land management, plant and animal biology or forestry, and/or individuals having familiarity with, or interest in, preservation of Carlisle's natural assets. Lyman stressed that "although there will be points of contact with ConsCom, the new group will have considerable independence."
In addition to the LSC, the plan recommends recruitment of local "stewards" to help in assessment and oversight of one or more of the 27 town-owned conservation parcels. Neighborly interest in an individual property or willingness to contribute particular expertise will be welcomed. Lyman considered the stewards to be "the eyes and ears of the committee."
Core land management tasks
As for the specific core tasks to be accomplished by the LSC and its cadre of stewards, the Planning Committee chairman called attention to the following: conduct baseline assessments of conservation properties; maintain active files and management plans on each; monitor each property; develop an annual Action Plan; present special outreach/educational projects that involve school and community groups.
It was the last of these tasks that generated the liveliest discussion. Planning Committee member Paul Kress led off with the observation that "The world is changing. People look at the land from different perspectives, either as open space to be preserved for ourselves and future generations or often as 'free land' to be used for other pressing municipal needs." He continued, " Most of us here see the value of the lands as well beyond their economic possibilities, but that viewpoint is becoming an increasingly hard sell." Nevertheless, Kress assured the people present that, "The Planning Committee is convinced that if Carlisleans are aware of what is at stake, sufficient numbers will care enough to volunteer and make the plan work. "That," he concluded, "is why outreach is so important."
© 2005 The