Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes


Sutton Conservation Commission

Draft Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Meeting held remotely via GoToMeeting

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

Members of the public present: Ed Canane and one unidentified caller

Call to order: Henry Howell called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. He asked Mr. Canane if he would like to speak about anything and the answer was no; he was just there to represent the townspeople of Sutton.


Previous Meeting’s Minutes: Debbie made a motion to approve the minutes from the 2/12/2020 and 3/18/2020 meetings, and Amy seconded. As there were no issues found with the minutes, the vote to approve was unanimously in favor.


Financial Report:

Debbie had emailed out a financial report to the commission members prior to the meeting, which contained the information below:

The SCC admin budget for 2020 was approved as follows: Secretarial services $1,267, Dues/conferences $1,300, Expenses $800, Supplies $170, Special projects $4,000, for a total of $7,537.

March 2020 YTD expenses were $325 ($250 for dues/conferences and $75 for special projects).

As of 3/31/2020, the balance in the SCC Fund was $150,384.00, which includes a LUCT payment of $2,656.27.  The King Hill Fund had a balance of $2,769.70.

Henry said that Chuck has been working hard to create a GIS map of our conservation lands, and he asked if Chuck should get paid for his time. Chuck said no; he was doing this on a volunteer basis. Henry thanked him on behalf of the commission. Amy asked how much time was involved in this work. Chuck said he is currently getting up to speed on the latest GIS, and after that it should be pretty straightforward. He is going to start with the properties that actually have trails on them.



  • NHACC March E-News: most deadlines have passed but there are still some grant opportunities.


Appointment: Andy Deegan of ASLPT

Andy introduced himself and said that he was with the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust, the local land trust that has protected over 12,000 acres in 12 towns since the 1980’s, mostly through conservation easements. He was here today to inform us about a project in Sutton. The landowners are donating a conservation easement on a 3.2 acre parcel and would like some financial assistance to help with the stewardship and surveying costs. The parcel can be seen from Town Hall and abuts the Lane River and a stream that flows into the river. It could possibly provide public access to the water. Henry asked what the costs would amount to, and Andy said ASLPT would be asking $5,000 for a stewardship fee. In addition, there would be the costs of surveying the property, which could be around $3,000 to $5,000. Andy said any amount of money would help; the landowners are not expecting the whole thing to be covered. Chuck spoke in favor of giving money, because of the beauty of the parcel, its visibility in the village, and the possible water access. Amy said she heard rumors that there was a junkyard on this property once, with resulting pollution. Andy replied that that that was the former Carnevale property, which is south of there.  Amy said she would love for us to donate money, because of the proximity to wetlands. Debbie also said she thought we should help with this. Henry asked how much we had donated for the O’Neil easement, and the answer was $10,000. He expressed some surprise that the easement costs are similar regardless of the size of the property. Barb asked what the property was worth, and Andy said the property card gives an assessed value of $20,100. The tax lot number is 6-388-152, and the owners are Lee and Karen Booker. Debbie made a motion that the SCC make a contribution towards the easement costs for this parcel, to be capped at $8,000, and Chuck seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor. Henry pointed out that the ASLPT usually likes to conserve land adjacent to other conserved parcels, and he asked Andy if there were any possibilities in the works. Andy said no, but there is a conserved parcel to the northeast, and the land in question is adjacent to other wetlands.


Review of Wetland Applications and Issues:


Review SCC procedures for wetlands applications Henry asked Debbie and Barb to report on this. Debbie said she drafted something up and Barb made some very good edits to it. Debbie then sent the draft to Lorri and Carol at Town Hall, who had some questions about it that Barb responded to. Barb said she listed out what the Town Clerk’s duties are and what the commission’s duties are, so that we will all know what to do. She sent her draft to Debbie, who will send it out to the commission for us to review at the next meeting. Barb asked Debbie if the permit application that came in to Lorri on Tuesday for a house replacement on Watkins Ave was a shoreland permit, and Debbie said yes. She will return it to Town Hall tomorrow, as the commission has no involvement in shoreland permits. Debbie asked Barb if she could explain why we are involved in wetlands permits but not shoreland. Barb said she looked into this but could not find out why. She did find out that the Town can set more stringent permitting requirements than the state if it desires to do so.


Review of Intents to Cut and Logging Issues:

  • and B. Harper, Pound Road, T/L#s 05-973-179, 05-981-338, 04-126-518. 100 acres out of 286. Eric Oxman, forester.
  • Boynton, Jr, Route 114, T/L# 09-822-416. 3 to 5 acres out of 12. Chuck Rose, logger.

Bonnie said neither of these seemed to involve much wetland, though there is a stream running at the northern boundary of the Harper lot. Fortunately, there is a forester involved with that cut. Don said Boynton is the guy we gave permission to put a road through a wetland a couple of years ago. This is where the ski trail is, on 114, and he is now putting in a second ski trail. Chuck said he thought it was quite wet there. Henry asked if there is anything we need to do, and the group felt that there was not, as these cuts are probably already done.

Old business

Publicity for NH Lakes presentation on June 25th at the Free Will Baptist Church – Henry said that this is cancelled due to Covid-19.

Strategic Action Plan – Henry asked how we want to go about implementing this. Barb said we need to wait and see when we can have large gatherings again, before we make a plan to roll this out. Henry said when things are physically back to normal we can have presentations, workshops, etc. He said we will put this on hold for now, and the subcommittee can continue to think about the implementation. Barb said at least the plan is on our town website, which is incidentally, kind of a mess. She guesses there is not much we can do about that. Henry said while he was working at KHR he met a couple from Bow who had actually used our website to see if Sutton had any issues with people coming here to walk; they had searched through the SCC meeting minutes. Henry said maybe we should create our own little sub-website sometime.


Status of KHR mowing schedule for 2020: Pollinator concerns Chuck said he would defer to Amy regarding the timing of the mow. Amy said since there has been no data collection yet, everything is theoretical. The best possible time to mow, from the point of view of the insects, would be late September. Chuck said last year he talked to the mower (Dave Carey) too late, so he couldn’t fit us in before the snow came. This time he will contact him early in the year, and maybe then we will be able to get our preferred time slot. If it continues to be dry, maybe the mowing could even be done in the spring, before the plants come in. Henry asked if we need to mow 2/3 of the trails this year, to make up for not doing any last year. Chuck said he planned to have the 1/3 of the trails mowed that have gone the longest without mowing. Henry said some trees need to be cut before the mowing equipment can get in there. Mock Turtle and the Penacook Path are both blocked by trees. Don said we intentionally planned to let some trees grow in from the edges in order to cover up some of the footings from the ski infrastructure, since they could pose a danger to sledders. Chuck said that saplings are starting to grow up around the foundations now. Chuck said he would go up there and take a look around and contact the mower. Don suggested that this summer someone should take the SCC’s DR mower and mow a swath down the middle of the trails. That way, people would all walk in the same part of the trail and would disturb the nesting birds less. Also, foot traffic would keep the vegetation worn down. Henry said that he has been doing that with his own brush hogging machine. Amy said maybe whoever mows could try to avoid cutting the native plants currently in bloom. Cutting the ferns would be fine.


Status of Horse Beach parking area:

1) Approved? 2) Funding? 3) Grading plan? 4) Maintenance schedule?

Henry said the maintenance agreement was approved at Town Meeting. Wally asked if the parking lot had been graded yet, and Chuck said not yet. Wally said he would check in with the road agent and find out when he planned to grade it. Then Wally will go there with his tractor and clean up the area, taking out the old railroad ties. We can do a general clean-up in May. Henry asked if there was a design, and Wally said not for the parking lot. Adam is supposed to come up with the plan. As for our own property (KLNA), we can do whatever we want. Next month we can formulate something. There are so many cars parked there lately that it’s hard to see what’s going on. He will have Don get back to us. Don said we need a sign for KLNA; something in the style of what we have for the other areas. Barb pointed out that there is no conservation easement on the KLNA property.


New Business

NHACC Strategic Planning Survey – Henry said he filled this out on behalf of SCC. He gave them info about what we’re doing. He told them that some of our concerns were support for non-polluting alternate forms of energy, the reduction in funding for NH Fish & Game, and well water monitoring. (He is having his own well water tested for PFAS after learning that it was found in the middle school’s water supply.) He told them that a reduction in the amount of LUCT money that we get would be a serious problem for us. In answer to the question, “how can NHACC help?”, he said we could use help in promoting the benefits of conservation by private landowners, also training for new CC members, such as a simple online course.


Workshop proposal on Eastern Brook Trout by the Merrimack County Conservation District – Henry said this has been cancelled because of Covid-19, but should still be kept in mind for the future.


Trail Maintenance and Development


Trails Advisory Committee Proposal – Don said he used to do all the planning for trails by himself, and he would like to see more people involved, to generate a lot of ideas and bring them back to the commission. He wants to create a guidebook for the trails, and some of the information we would want to put into this will take a long time to gather, such as what types of wildflowers can be seen blooming along the trails at what times of the year. Getting info like this requires people hiking the trails and looking at them with fresh eyes. Don’s grandson is eager to hike our trails with his girlfriend and will take notes of his sightings. Don suggested we all take notes on our walks. Some other things to watch for include hazards and unusual features. The guidebook will also describe trail signs. Good interpretive trail signs provide information in a hierarchy of detail, to satisfy the needs of people who are looking for different amounts of information. He said SCC had a vision 20 years ago, but that vision has gotten stagnant. He said a committee could write something up and present it to the rest of the commission. Henry said he endorses this plan, and the committee would need to contain no more than 3 people, in order to avoid public noticing requirements. He asked for a motion, and Don made a motion to create a 3-member subcommittee, to be called the Trails Advisory Committee. Chuck said he liked the idea, but he wondered if a committee would get more done, or just add another step. Don thought it would help things not get overlooked that need to be done. He said plans that were made for KHR years ago may need to re-done now. Henry said he feels sometimes that he is working in a vacuum, and he would love to have more people involved. In addressing the fears of bureaucracy, he said a subcommittee could prioritize things and keep the general commission up-to-date. Chuck seconded Don’s motion. Amy commended Henry for the amount that he has accomplished, and for his vision. She said everything should not be concentrated in one person, and that having a realistic discussion about what to do to make our trails special needs more time than our monthly meeting provides. As there was no more discussion, a vote was taken on Don’s motion, and it passed unanimously. Henry asked who would like to join the subcommittee, and it now includes Don, Henry and Chuck. Amy said she would love to have input, but doesn’t need to be on the subcommittee.  The members planned to get organized after this meeting and will have something to report at the SCC meeting in May.


Trail work volunteering – Henry said KHR, Lefferts and Webb/Crowell need work. Lots of people have been on our trails lately and have said they appreciate the work that’s been done and are interested in volunteering. Henry asked about putting a signup sheet at the trail head, with a list of things that need to be done. He said the kiosk at Hominy Pot is all renovated and ready for such a posting. People who use the trail might be our best volunteers. Amy asked about the status of the high school’s bridge project. Henry said it’s over for this year, and we may need to cancel it altogether. Meanwhile, he put planks down at the bottom of the gulley for people to be able to walk over the wet spots. Now he has noticed that there is a nice view of the beaver pond from down there.


Earth Day Activities – It is the 50th anniversary, but sadly, we cannot gather. Don suggested we have a trail work day, and Chuck said we should probably just have one property per person. Henry wants to advertise it in the paper. Don suggested doing it on Saturday the 25th, giving a time and saying bring pruners. Several people thought it might not be a good idea to allow people to just go off and lop things. Chuck said rather than have an organized event, maybe just encourage people to get out and use the trails. Don said we could ask people to share their thoughts about the trails after they’ve walked there. Amy suggested a Survey Monkey survey. This could be people’s Earth Day contribution. Henry asked whether a Survey Monkey is the way to go, or should people just make their own notes. Debbie suggested a pad and pencil at the trail kiosk, where people can just leave a note on their way out. Chuck said Wednesdays are make-up days for the school, so kids would be able to go to the trails that day. He will contact the PE teacher about doing this as an Earth Day activity. Henry will send the notice to the InterTown Record ASAP, giving the 22nd through the 25th as dates to spread out the trail usage. He said most people don’t even know where these places are. Amy concurred; she said she has been surprised to find how many people know nothing about town lands or town history. Henry said sometime in the future he would like us to have a citizen science app that would allow people to answer survey questions as they walk the trails. Chuck expressed concern about too many people being on our trails all at once, so Henry said that in the InterTown notice for Earth Day, he will encourage people to enjoy the trails in all their communities, instead of specifying the Sutton trails. He asked for a volunteer to set up the pads at the trailheads for KHR, Lefferts and Webb/Crowell, and Debbie said she would do it. Chuck said he has some write-in-the-rain notebooks for geologists that she can use. Henry said one of the tasks he is hoping a volunteer will take on is to re-paint the red lettering on the trail signs at KHR.


Snowplowing Sutton trailhead parking areas – Don looked into expanding the parking area at Hominy Pot, but we don’t own that much property on the right side. Henry said this is something for the trails subcommittee to look into. He asked Don to talk to Jerry Gagnon about snowplowing next year. Jerry is the one who mows the grassy parking area at Lefferts/Enroth.


Sutton RidgeRunners snowmobile trail maintenance – Henry emailed back and forth with a representative of the group. There is a section of the Hominy Pot trail that is very wet because the culverts are clogged. They will take out the culverts and put in water bars instead. The culverts are draining a bit now, so this is not an emergency. Henry would like to have crushed stone put down on the Hominy Pot trail near the junction with Lyon Brook. There is a culvert about a quarter mile up Penacook Path that is clogged, and water is going up around it. It needs to be cleaned out, and crushed stone should be placed on top of the exposed culvert to protect the corrugated pipe. Chuck said he will go up there and see if he can clean it out. Wally said he can get a load of crushed stone and bring it up with his tractor. Don urged caution, as that part of the trail is not safe for heavy loads. Henry asked Chuck and Wally to coordinate this. Henry will go there tomorrow and make sure the gate is open and will see if the concrete barriers near Angeli’s have been removed from the road yet. If so, Wally and Chuck will tackle this Saturday morning. Henry would also like crushed stone put down in the Hominy Pot parking area, which is mucky. Wally said he’ll put it anywhere we need it. Henry told Wally to be sure he gets compensated for it.

Adjournment: Barb moved to adjourn the meeting, but first said she wanted to shout out kudos to Henry for the great job getting the remote meeting set up. Ed Canane offered kudos to the commission before signing off, and said he enjoyed the meeting. Henry asked the unidentified caller if he/she had any input. The meeting was adjourned at 8:04 PM.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, May 13th, 2020, at 6:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Hill, Secretary