Friday, February 5, 2010
Conservation Commission weighs field management issues
The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) began a public hearing on January 28 on a Draft Management Plan for the Towle Land prepared by the Land Stewardship Committee (LSC). Liz Carpenter and Warren Lyman presented the plan on behalf of the LSC. Carpenter noted that the plan builds upon a 2007 baseline assessment that included the property’s acquisition history, historic uses, and information on its plant and animal communities.
Her presentation and the ensuing discussion focused on the large field. Carpenter said it is currently being mowed to keep it open and the invasive plants at bay. Because of a lull in mowing in the 1990s and the numerous rock outcrops, woody plants have also taken over some areas. There was broad interest in maintaining and improving grassland bird habitat. She said there were only one or two pairs of bobolinks last year, though it is unclear whether this is a trend.
Several commissioners expressed dismay that the field, long a popular site for picnicking, kite flying and other family activities, is less usable today due to a combination of poison ivy and ticks. The board discussed the feasibility and effectiveness of a controlled burn to foster grasses, and hopefully control the poison ivy. There was agreement on the need for a professional to evaluate the situation and propose solutions.
Turning to other parts of the parcel, Carpenter said the LSC does not presently recommend restoring the pond or repairing the dam because it is too expensive. She indicated that the parking area seems to be a good size, and the brush between the lot and the road should be kept down for public safety reasons. The LSC would like to put maps, plant and wildlife information, and warnings about poison ivy and ticks in the kiosk by the parking lot that was donated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The hearing was continued until February 25 at 8:30 p.m.
Foss Farm manager sought
The ConsCom decided to seek a manager for the Foss Farm community gardens. The board will describe and advertise a two-year volunteer position. Bob Dennison is retiring from this responsibility which he has undertaken for many years.
In other business, Land Use Permits were given to John Bakewell to burn brush at Fox Hill and to the Trails Committee for a moonlight walk from Foss Farm to the Greenough Land on January 30.
Near the end of the evening the ConsCom went into executive session to discuss the “potential for litigation.” ∆
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