The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 18, 2010

Damaged MacAfee Land to be restored

Carlisle’s MacAfee Conservation Land has been disturbed near this house in Westford. (Photo courtesy Carlisle Conservation Commission)

The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) and Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF) are working with a Westford landowner to remediate damage to a portion of the Town-owned MacAfee Conservation Land. Large trees had been removed, smaller trees felled, a large pile of soil deposited, and a portion of the MacAfee Trail destroyed. Steve Hinton and Steve Spang of CCF, and Steve Tobin of the Carlisle Trails Committee, discovered the problem in February.

The MacAfee land lies in the northwest corner of the Carlisle on the Westford border (see map on page 9, May 28 issue). To clarify the exact boundaries of MacAfee and other nearby conservation parcels, CCF commissioned Stamski and McNary Engineering to survey the properties and stake the MacAfee boundary in the area of the damage. The resulting April 2010 preliminary plan shows 14.2 acres are Town of Carlisle land, with two areas totaling 0.73 acres in Westford and owned by the Carlisle Conservation Trust. With the plan in hand, Hinton, Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard and Land Stewardship Committee member Dwight DeMay evaluated the site.

At the May 27 ConsCom meeting Willard reported that she had counted 14 large white pine (Pinus strobus) stumps on the Town’s land. Hinton noted these were 15 inches or greater in diameter and called this “a substantial disturbance.” The pine trunks had been removed. Smaller hardwood trees had been felled and left. There were uprooted stumps, slash and a large pile of soil – an estimated three truckloads. According to Hinton, the trees were cut over an area approximately 25 x 150 feet in size. The soil was piled in an additional area of about 40 x 40 feet.

Hinton and Willard contacted the adjacent property owner, Sheldon Kolansky of Sleigh Road in Westford. Kolansky’s land is mostly in Carlisle but his house and address are in Westford. Kolansky, who attended the meeting, took responsibility for the damage. He said the forester he had engaged had cut trees well beyond the area Kolansky had defined. He also indicated that the stockpiled soil was excavated from an area where he was building a circular driveway. Kolansky said the damage was “definitely inadvertent.”

Kolansky also said that he has already removed most of the tree slash and has the time and equipment to remove the soil from the conservation parcel. He offered to use rocks from his property to build a stone wall clearly marking the boundary. Potentially rerouting the section of the MacAfee Trail near Kolansky’s house or using plantings to create a visual barrier was also discussed.

Vice Chair Kelly Guarino finished by saying: “I just want to thank the landowner for working with us.…We don’t take it for granted….We really appreciate it.” Kolansky replied: “It’s a lot easier to work with you and do it and get it done….I don’t like playing games….And I apologize.”

At the June 10 ConsCom meeting Willard reported that Hinton and Kolansky will be meeting soon to discuss a planting plan and that CCF is talking with Kolansky in hopes of creating a trail easement from the MacAfee parcel out to Sleigh Road.

The commission’s discussion centered around whether the dominant native white pines that were cut should be replaced with the same species, hardwoods or a combination. The commission concurred that a few dominant trees were needed to create shade and decided to recommend that trees include hardwoods in addition to pines, if feasible, and shrubs similar to those of the adjacent forest. They also agreed that protective fencing would be wise. Finally, it was suggested that Kolansky might appreciate help with the planting from members of the ConsCom, the Land Stewardship Committee and the Trails Committee.

Hinton offers some relevant advice: “It is important for landowners to know where their property lines are located before engaging in land clearing. “When a mistake is made, the time and expense to restore land to its original condition are over ten times the effort required to determine the property boundaries in the first place.”

Kolansky and Hinton are scheduled to return to the ConsCom with the restoration plan on July 22 at 8 p.m. ∆

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