Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes


Sutton Conservation Commission

Draft Meeting Minutes

Wednesday,  March 17, 2021

Present: Henry Howell, Co-Chair; Wally Baker, Co-Chair; Don Davis; Chuck Bolduc; Debbie Lang; Barbara Hoffman; Jim Morris and Bonnie Hill.

Absent:  Lynn Wittman.


Call to order: Henry Howell stated that the meeting was being held remotely because of Covid-19, and summarized the rules for conducting remote meetings. Every person attending identified him/herself by name, gave their location, and listed other people that were or might be present. Debbie volunteered to be the contact person for people having difficulty connecting, and she gave her phone number. Henry called the meeting to order at 6:32 pm.


Previous Meeting’s Minutes: The minutes from the 2/10/2021 meeting were approved unanimously.

Financial Report:

Debbie had sent out a financial report before the meeting. The SCC Admin budget for Feb 2021 YTD:

Secretarial services      $0 spent vs full year budget $1267

Dues.                           $150 spent vs       ”                $1300

Expenses.                    $0 spent   vs.       ”                $800

Supplies.                      $0 spent    vs.       ”                $170

Special Projects.          $275 spent vs.     ”                $4000

Total.                          $425 spent  vs.     ”               $7537

At the end of February, the Conservation Fund had a balance of $148,124.53 and the King Hill Fund had $1,649.56.  The Capital Reserve balance at the end of December was $50,570.75.



Review of Wetland Applications and Issues:

  • None.


Review of Intents to Cut and Logging Issues:

  • Chilin Associates, LLC, Kearsarge Valley Rd, 2 out of 29.14 acres, T/L #s 09-030-513, 09-030-525, 09-030-542, 09-031-568, 09-032-585, 09-034-007, 09-035-032, Bruce Cayer, logger. Bonnie said this acreage looks wrong, as there are 7 lots listed but only 2 acres declared. This is for a 7-house development.


Old business

  • None.


New Business

Update from Debbie Lang representing ASLPT   Andy Deegan told her that a surveyor has been selected for the Bookers, who are seeking to put a conservation easement on their property. Anne Payeur, the Stewardship Manager, needs to perform 20 hours of community service and is available to help with projects.  Henry suggested doing something regarding invasive plants on our properties. Chuck said there is a bad infestation of oriental bittersweet at KHR, on the Walrus trail, and there is the Japanese knotweed along Rt 114. Henry said the knotweed that was treated at Sundell Natural Area needs to be monitored, but Wally said the man from DES who worked on that will be coming back in the spring to check on it. Wally said doing anything about the knotweed on 114 would require getting in touch with the state, since that is a state highway.


Russell Pond property sold – Henry said that we should have bought and conserved this property when we had the chance, as it is part of the headwaters of Blaisdell Lake and abuts other conservation land on both sides. Now it has been lost to development.

Fish & Game wildlife rules proposals and biennial chance to comment. See Bonnie said the NH Wildlife coalition is concerned that there have been no changes to the trapping rules that reflect the declining population of small furbearers in the state. She will forward their comments to anyone who is interested.


Publicity– Henry said the website has a lot of links to nature-related info but could have more, particularly links to nature talks, lecture series, etc. There are wonderful pictures in Northern Woodlands we could link to.


Appointment 7:00 PM: Eric Oxman, Forester.

Chuck introduced Eric, who was there to answer questions from us about logging KHR. Eric said he works with his father for Granite State Forestry and has been a forester for over 10 years. He has a BS from UNH in Environmental Conservation with a Minor in Forestry.  He’s done many projects in Sutton, most recently on North Road and at Camp Wabasso for the Girl Scouts, and is generally pretty busy.  He has walked most of the property at KHR and has focused on Section 5. The most similar project he has done to this one is probably the Wells conservation land, which was mostly pine, and not on a hill. He recommends doing a cut to improve wildlife habitat and improve the quality of the trees that are there. For access, he suggests going in through the Hominy Pot entrance, and using the log landing in the open area that is a little ways down from there. He said it is not too complicated and can be done in a clean way. Alternatively, we could go in through the property next to the racquet club. He suggests doing some general forest management, with the areas at the top receiving more selective cutting. Another option is to do patch cuts or a wildlife clearing, which would involve clear cutting an area of an acre or two. By doing a wildlife clearing now, and then another one in a few years, we can create some age diversity in the forest. He thought a cut-to-length operation might be best, as there is less dragging. This is best when there is a long distance to the access point, but it’s not always clean, leaving brush and ruts behind. We need to be cautious on the main trails. These areas will need some sprucing up, and the logging crew can’t necessarily do it, so there will be a cost for that cleanup. We would need to specify this all up front. He plans to go back to the Girl Scout camp in the spring and smooth out some areas with an excavator, as there are ruts in some of the wet areas. As for KHR section 5, the white pine is the oldest and most valuable tree there. He would harvest a majority of the mature trees and leave some good-growing trees behind. Henry said he is very concerned about access. He said there are two choices: one through the Hominy Pot entrance all the way to the far end of the Nichols trail. The private property would have to be skirted. The other way is from the north, using an old logging road off King Hill Rd (Rt 11) near I-89, across from Lauridsen’s. This is the most direct route, but crosses three pieces of private property. He is hoping they might let us use that old logging road. He asked Eric if he had any experience negotiating with property owners, and Eric said yes, he does this often. He has a right-of-way agreement that he uses. Occasionally he will need to pay a few hundred dollars, or agree to cut some of the property owners’ trees. Chuck said he would prefer to use the Hominy Pot entrance because then we have guaranteed future access. Henry said the cost would be greater, but Chuck said that’s OK as long as we break even. Eric said it wouldn’t have to be that costly, as the trucks would only need to go as far as the landing; from there on only the logging equipment would be going all the way to the end. Don reminded us that we don’t own the entire landing on the Hominy Pot trail, only about 2/3 of it. And he said once the trail starts to climb, there is a very muddy area that is impossible to avoid.  Eric said he can use mats in that area. In the areas off the trail he can lay down brush for the vehicles to drive over, but that can’t be done on the main trail.


Appointment 7:30 PM: Leo Maslan, Forester.

Henry thanked Leo for the very worthwhile and excellent tour of the Low Plain logging project, which some of us attended last Saturday.  Chuck introduced Leo by saying that they have walked the property together a few times, concentrating on the area of the old triple and section 5. Leo was recommended to him by Dave Carey.  Leo has done work for the New London Conservation Commission (NLCC) and Colby Sawyer College, and is very interested in trails. He lives in Cornish and has been a forester since the mid-70’s, based in the Upper Valley. He attended Paul Smith’s College and has degrees and minors in outdoor recreation, forestry, and business management, and a masters in Environmental Studies, resource management and education.  He works as a consultant for a paper company and constructed the Kelsey Trail at Colby Sawyer. He has a great relationship with the NLCC, for whom he is currently doing the selective timber harvest at Low Plain. On this project, wildlife habitat was the primary focus, in addition to recreation and some timber management. The money received will be used for maintenance by the town; for boundary marking, etc.  Regarding the KHR project, Leo said there are issues with the boundary location. As for access problems, there is nothing that can’t be overcome. We would want to coordinate it with high-use recreation. The key to any activity is communication and planning up front. We should work with a forester to help make decisions; also a logger. It’s critical to get the right people for the right application. He’s been working with a local logging contractor, Ryan Mingerelli of Sutton, doing a cut-to-length operation. With this, the un-merchantable material stays in the woods. Henry was impressed by Ryan’s use of the logging slash as a bed for the forwarder to drive upon. Leo said Brooks McCandlish’s plan is a good starting point. There is a fair amount of hardwood stands in sub-par shape, probably from ice storm damage. No matter whom we hire, he advised that we not fall into the trap of selling the high-grade material without tying in the lower grade material for good forest management. As for the Hominy Pot Trail itself, some work can be done to improve its condition. There are water issues. The improvements he did on the Kelsey Trail in New London brought a huge 4-season increase in use. In like manner, visitation to KHR could increase, if that’s what we want. Henry displayed the sheet with the Why’s and How’s of Timber Management that Leo gave him at the Low Plain tour, which contains a comprehensive list of procedures to follow.  Leo said the town acquired the land and asked him to create a plan, using a grant from Fish & Game. Because of the grant, a biologist needed to approve the work plan. We need to have a handle on what the current market is for the materials we want to sell. Leo is dialed in to the market because of his consulting work. A contract needs to be drawn up between the town and the logging contractor. A local logging contractor tends to be more invested in the town. Buffers are very important. Timber marking is done by the forester and shown to a logging contractor, who uses that info in negotiating terms. Make sure everyone is covered by insurance.  If there are loggers working under the logging contractor, then workman’s comp may be required for them. File the Intent to Cut, and a minimal impact wetlands permit. DES is great to work with. Send a letter to all the abutters (this is not required, but is good PR) and look for feedback. Access is key; equipment will mostly be coming in on tractor trailers. Follow best management practices, like using portable skidder bridges. Pray for good weather. Ryan stopped working when it got warm last week, and worked through the weekend when it turned cooler. Good communications is essential – there should be give and take with town road agents, etc. Set up a payment schedule. By law, the landowner must receive a copy of the mill scale. Invite interested stakeholders to tour the operation before and during the harvest. Closing out the job may require a small excavator, water bar construction, mulch and seed, locking the gate. Final payment is made to the town. Report of wood cut is received. Finally, there is the tax document (but a town can’t tax itself.)


Regarding wildlife impact, Henry commented that Leo seemed very cognizant of bird-related issues, for example leaving drumming logs behind for ruffed grouse. Leo said Matt Tarr is a UNH Forester and he will walk the land with us if we have wildlife concerns. Tim Fleury will, too. At Low Plain they actually had a biologist from the American Ruffed Grouse Society come out, and he recommended mowing the old road to create an early succession forest, and to leave the drumming logs. Don said Matt Tarr walked the site when SCC first acquired KHR. Henry said he thought Ryan did a miraculous job in the woods. Leo said the previous harvest at the other end of Low Plain was a whole-tree operation. A chipper needs a large landing, as there are two extra pieces of equipment. Otherwise you really only need a strip two trucks’ width wide. The forwarder is maybe 10 feet wide. The longest distance they traveled was maybe ¾ of a mile, which is about the maximum distance that is economical. Low Plain’s long travel distance did reduce the amount of money made. Leo brought up Penacook Path as another access point. He said we are losing some width on the mowed ski trails and this would be a way to access that area for selective cutting. We could maybe add some of this to a timber harvest to get bigger views, or a different vista. This also gives some excellent edge habitat. Bonnie asked about the economic feasibility of chipping and using the chips on our trails, as a way to keep the organic matter in the woods but in a form that was friendlier for hiking. Leo thought the economic loss would be fairly small. He said in the hiking areas, the logging should be kept off the trails as much as possible, though it is allowable to cross the trails. Henry expressed concern about buffers around the trails. He said at the Bean Quarry there was no buffer, and he felt that the trails were ruined. He asked what the standard distance is for a buffer next to private property. Chuck said this is specified in the easement. He said Hominy Pot and the Penacook Path are hiking trails, but he says in this situation he thinks it is OK to use them for logging access. He is worried about long-term maintenance for mowing, etc. Don said there is a culvert under Penacook Path that is unsafe for trucks to pass over. Leo said he can evaluate that. He said if we can solve the water issues on those trails, grass them and mow them, we will be all set. Chuck said he would like to see us make some improvements to access, even if we didn’t end up making any money. We could create a new trail bypassing the private property section. He said it would cost money but would be worth it if we could keep our trail from being shut down. Henry asked Leo if he had looked at the old logging road off Rt 11, and Leo offered to meet there with Chuck.


At this point, Leo left. Chuck said the next step for us is to choose a forester, so we can stop taking up both of Eric and Leo’s time. Unfortunately, we don’t have a full crew right now for a vote, as Barb left to attend the ZBA hearing and Wally left because of a computer problem. Jim had to leave early and Lynn is absent. We do, however, have a quorum. Don said if we log section 5, his preference for access would be to use Hominy Pot and do the trail improvements that Chuck mentioned. Don said there should be a report in our files at Town Hall from the visit that Matt Tarr and Tim Fleury did, but Chuck said he didn’t see it in there. It was decided that we will wait and vote on the choice of a forester at our April meeting, when more members can have their say.


Trail Maintenance and Development

Trails Advisory Committee Report

Due to the lateness of the hour, the following items were tabled until next month’s meeting:

  • Meeting with Craig Tufts of Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission
  • Logging of KHR
  • Prioritizing Sutton’s conservation lands for public access


Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:54 PM.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, April 14th, 2021, at 6:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Hill, Secretary