Friday, March 31, 2006
Fox Hill management plan adopted
At a well-attended public hearing March 23, the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) accepted the first official document to emerge from the permanent Land Stewardship Committee (LSC), namely a Land Management Plan for the Fox Hill Conservation Land. The twelve-member LSC is made up of volunteers who were sworn in last December as a quasi-independent subcommittee, charged with assessing, managing and, where indicated, helping to upgrade the status of Carlisle's 29 town-owned conservation properties. The plan for Fox Hill, a popular but relatively uncomplicated parcel off Bedford Road, had been chosen to be a model for future management plans.
Fox Hill neighbors and abutters were well represented as LSC chairman Warren Lyman summarized the 17-page document. The plan is an updated version of a prototype laid out by the ad hoc ConsCom subcommittee that recommended the structure and responsibilities of the permanent group. The 11.4-acre Fox Hill property, purchased by vote of the 1980 Town Meeting, consists of two agricultural fields connected by a path through approximately three acres of forest land that includes wetlands, an intermittent brook and areas of seasonal ponding. A nearby resident has often mowed a path across the fields from Stearns Street to the western border. Lyman described the site as "a beautiful piece of property" with agricultural and habitat values, "a little gem, treasured by abutters."
Primary management objectives listed by the committee call for, 1) preservation of the agricultural values through a lease to local farmers for haying, 2) an annual check for encroachment into the fields by forest or brush and for maintenance of the vista from Bedford Road to the top of the hill, 3) preservation of the forests and wetlands for habitat and watershed protection and evaluation of the ponding feature for possible vernal pool certification, 4) exploring the possibility of formalizing trail maintenance, and 5) allowing for passive recreation such as walking and horseback riding.
Stewards for the property will include Lyman, commission member and micro-dairy owner Tricia Smith, (plus a second farmer to be announced later) and abutter Dan Moseley of 99 Stearns Street, who has been one of the volunteer path mowers in the past.
Apropos of the pathway, Smith said she would like to see a perimeter path, or even better, "a figure-eight," which would provide a handy half-hour stroll for families with young children.
Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard suggested that stewards for the various parcels identify small projects that volunteers might do. When someone mentioned that Scouts or school groups might make bird houses, Smith welcomed the idea but added that for such undertakings to be truly educational, the kids should include ongoing maintenance of the abodes, noting that in the past, they have tended to "build the units and then disappear."
Thanking the LSC delegation for "a fine job," Chairman Tom Schultz said that the committee and the local stewards serve to focus the commission's attention on items that require attention and probable action, to which Commissioner John Lee added that the LSC's work could help not just the commission but the town as a whole to realize that it needs to invest not only in acquisition, but also in ongoing maintenance of its conservation assets.
© 2006 The