Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes

TOWN OF SUTTON

Sutton Conservation Commission

Draft Meeting Minutes

Wednesday,  May 13, 2020

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

Absent: Wally Baker, Co-Chair.

This meeting was held remotely via GoToMeeting due to the Covid-19 emergency. Every person attending identified him/herself by name, gave their location, and listed other people that were or might be present. Amy volunteered to be the contact person for members of the public having difficulties connecting, and gave her phone number. Henry said that attending members of the public should state their names and mute their mics. They should submit their comments by email or mail.

 

Call to order: Henry Howell called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

 

Previous Meeting’s Minutes: Debbie made a motion to approve the minutes from the 4/15/2020 meeting, and Henry seconded. As there were no issues found with the minutes, a roll call vote was taken, with all members present voting to approve.

 

Financial Report:

Debbie said $325 has been spent so far this year from the admin budget. No bank statement has yet been received. She reported that we have been asked by the town administrator to cut our operating budget by 10%. She and Henry suggested that $500 be taken out of the dues/conferences line item and $254 out of the special projects line item. Amy and Chuck both spoke approvingly of these suggestions. In answer to Chuck’s question, Debbie said it was not only the SCC that was approached, but all town departments. Debbie asked Henry if an SCC representative needs to meet in person with the select board. She is willing to represent the SCC but would prefer to do it remotely. She said since our budget proposal is so straightforward that perhaps it could be sent by email. She said she would email Elly Phillips. A motion was made by Henry and seconded by Debbie that the SCC reduce its budget by 10% by taking $500 from line item 1-09-4611-560 and $254 from line item 1-09-4611-902. Barb asked if it was Covid-19 related and Henry said yes; it is anticipated that the town will not be receiving the money it normally would expect from the state. A roll call vote was taken and all members present voted in favor of the motion. Debbie will notify Elly via email. Henry said we need to take $144 out of the expenses line item (600) for the GoToMeeting application. He tried to get the free version but ran into insurmountable obstacles. He has been purchasing materials for trail work (wood planks for crossing wet areas, etc.) that will be coming out of the special projects budget. Bonnie said that a membership renewal request was received from ASLPT and asked if we want to send them $100 out of our dues/conferences account, which has now been reduced. The members agreed to pay it, and Chuck asked whether we should prioritize which organizations we want to give money to, or just juggle between accounts if we run out. Henry made a proposal and Debbie seconded, that we continue to pay our memberships as they come in, taking money out of other line items as needed. A roll call vote was taken and all members present voted yes.

 

Correspondence

  • Earth Day (and beyond) activities per SCC article in InterTown Record. Henry displayed the article he submitted in the April 21st edition, in which he urged residents of the area to enjoy Earth Day activities wherever and whenever they can, and included many suggestions of possible activities including planting for pollinators, organic gardening, planting trees, walking on trails, picking up litter, and cutting down on plastic consumption. Chuck said the gym teacher at the Sutton school sent out an email to the kids with links to our maps and trails, and some of the elementary school kids did trail cleanup. Some walkers have made entries in the notebooks that Debbie placed at the trailheads, so they will be left in place for a while.
  • Letter and questionnaire from NH DOT regarding paving of the final 3 miles of I-89 in Sutton north to New London. Chuck said he would respond to Melilotus Dube at the DOT regarding this.
  • Public Information Notice from NHACC stating that during the coronavirus emergency, NH DES will accept emails from town and city clerks, conservation commissions, Local River Management Advisory Committees (LACs), and Rivers Councils to serve as records of receipt and/or waiver of intervention for wetland applications in lieu of CC signatures.
  • PowerPoint presentation “Remote Public Meetings in the Time of Covid-19” by UNH Cooperative Extension.
  • NHACC April e-News newsletter with info about virtual Earth Day activities, LCHIP and Water Quality grant opportunities, training opportunities.
  • LSPA (Lake Sunapee Protective Association) 2019 Annual Report. Info about water quality, school programs.
  • Lakeside, publication of NH Lakes, Spring 2020 issue. Article about Ballast boats, Lake Conference (May 28th), water quality bills in the Statehouse.

 

Review of Wetland Applications and Issues:

 

Review SCC procedures for wetlands applications Barb had sent out two documents for the SCC to review. She proposed that the April 20th draft of the SCC procedures for wetlands applications be accepted, and Debbie seconded. A roll call vote was taken and all members present voted in favor. Barb said the second document did not need to be voted on, as it is only to provide some clarification of the roles of all parties in the permitting process.

 

Notice of Acceptance of Shoreland Permit from NH DES for 13 Watkins Av, T/L# 02-709-412. This is just an FYI.

Wetlands Best Management Practice Techniques for Avoidance and Minimization manual. This was sent to us as a reference guide from NH DES. Bonnie has the physical copy and emailed out a link to the electronic copy to all the members. She said it has some valuable information and is worth looking at before reviewing permits.

Review of Intents to Cut and Logging Issues:

  • Hansen, Baker Road, T/L# 09-277-017. 2 acres out of 4. Daniel Early, forester.
  • Teloian, Baker Hill Rd, T/L#s 08-874-095, 08-882-178. 19.5 acres out of 19.5. Charlie Moreno, forester.
  • Gallup and J. Torro, Stevens Brook Rd, T/L# 01-136-386. 8 acres out of 14.2. Michael Ball, logger.
  • Caron, Baker Rd / French Rd, T/L# 09-040-226. 35 acres out of 150. Leonard Caron, logger. This parcel has considerable wetlands.
  • Hodgdon & D. Burgess, Baker Road, T/L# 07-200-550. 5 acres out of 11.2. Daniel Early, forester.

Most of these have supervising foresters. Don described the location of the Caron operation. He reported that he saw cutting on the Baker Rd side and it did not look bad, as it was not really wet then.

Old business

Status of KHR mowing schedule for 2020: Pollinator concerns Chuck said he contacted Dave Carey, the mower, and told him we’d like it done in September. He asked Amy if this was OK for the pollinators. He said Dave has room in his schedule now, and we should firm this up. Amy asked how much would be mowed – 1/3 or 2/3, since we didn’t mow last year. Chuck said the area of the old triple needs to be done, and he suggests 2/3. Henry agreed. Amy asked if any area was to be left out. She said that Vermont Eco Studies recommends keeping the mowing down to 1/3 per year to allow populations to recover. She asked that big milkweed stands be left in place until early October. Chuck said he would like to have a range of dates, such as the first week in September, in order to get put on Dave Carey’s schedule. Then we can look at the situation later and adjust things. Amy said the last week in September would be better. Chuck said he would talk to Dave tomorrow and tell him to mow 2/3. We will go there before then and look for milkweed. Henry said some of the upper areas are really dense and need to be cut back. Amy agreed; she said the high elevation glades are really important to a lot of species. Henry said a local landowner, Kyle, volunteered to do some mowing for us. Don said he would like a path established. Chuck said you can kind of see paths now. Don said some of the property markers are hard for the mower to see and should be flagged. Amy knows Kyle and asked if we’d like her to talk to him about mowing. Don suggested having Dave Carey mow 1/3 of the trails, and then maybe have Kyle do some more later, if the fall is dry enough. Amy said maybe Kyle could mow paths, and she offered to go with him. She asked what the priority areas would be, and Henry said Penacook Path and White Rabbit. Chuck asked about making a path up the middle of each ski trail, but Henry said it should be limited to just the parts of our regular trail system.

 

Status of Horse Beach parking area:

Don said that Wally spoke to Adam Hurst, and Adam is waiting for a plan. He is concerned about the parking lot’s runoff going on to the adjacent property. Henry asked Don to ask Wally if he can nail down the plan.

 

New Business

Request from USDA regarding feral swine monitoring on SCC properties – Bonnie said the request was for monitoring on the town wetlands on Rt. 114 and on our two properties off Kings Hill Rd, and asked permission for using bait stations, trail cameras, and vehicles. She had emailed back, looking for more detailed info and was told that the bait stations were PVC pipe drilled with holes and containing corn. The hogs roll them around, and this enables the cameras to get a better picture. Amy was strongly in favor of allowing this, as she said the hogs are very aggressive and destructive. Don said they have been in our area before. Bonnie said she did not know whether there was an actual swine sighting reported or if the monitoring is being done because these areas fall into the survey grid. She said she would fill out the form and return it to the USDA representative.

 

Property offer to Town (and SCC?) Henry said there is a 4.1 acre lot across from the dump that abuts other town-owned land and is in tax arrears. He talked to Betsy Forsham about it and she said it is not a good candidate for conservation. It doesn’t meet our list of criteria, so the SCC will pass on this.

 

Other Sutton property sale in high value natural resource area – Henry said this issue is moot now, as the price of the land has just been increased by $100K. This is the estate of Fritz Pratt and is about 150 acres including Hedgehog Hill and beautiful hayfields. There was some hope of working out some kind of arrangement with abutters, but the heirs have put it back on the market for $350K.

 

Town guidelines for buying/owning land for conservation reasons – Barb found these and mailed them out to the group before the meeting. Henry pointed out that we should be using these, and we did not do so when offering money to help with the Booker easement or with the O’Neil easement (though the O’Neil easement certainly did meet these guidelines). He said that using the guidelines demonstrates to the townspeople that we are not being biased, and are using the same criteria for all. Don said he remembers using these in the past when evaluating a possible gift.

 

Trail Maintenance and Development

 

Trails Advisory Committee Report – Henry, Don and Chuck met at KHR to review things. Don said they met at the Hominy Pot entrance and looked at ways of adding more parking spaces. He said the boundary line is not where he thought it was, and we could add parking for 10 or more cars on the right hand side. Chuck said by doing work around the gate we could also add parking. The question is, how many cars do we want to accommodate? Don contacted Roger Wells, who is a landscape architect, and Roger said he would take a look and come up with some suggestions. This work will cost us some money. Glen Pogust stopped by while the guys were there and told them that the two homeowners associations have a joint meeting. He thought some of these folks might be helpful regarding the winter parking issues. Regarding Maple Leaf, Don said the size of the parking lot there is dictated by the deed. Henry asked about head-in parking at the Penacook Path entrance. Don said yes, this would be possible if the gate were moved in a little. But the old gate was vandalized several times, and if the gate were moved in, it would be more difficult to monitor what is going on with it. Chuck pointed out that since the road isn’t plowed up to Maple Leaf in the winter, it would be better to concentrate on the Hominy Pot entrance for improvements. Maybe some gravel could be added to the lot at Maple Leaf, though, since it is mucky. Don said if the sign at Hominy Pot is moved so that it is visible from both directions, this would also open up some parking. Amy asked who owns the parking lot at the junction of Kezar St, Hominy Pot Rd and Penacook Rd. Don said Muster Field Farm. The old golf course used it, and the town plows it, and it is used by snowmobilers. Amy asked if it could be made bigger. Don said it needs work, and is too far away to help with Maple Leaf access. It would help with Horse Beach, though. Don said managing parking is a good way of managing people. Henry asked about KHR, and Don said he will get with Roger Wells and will have something to tell us at the next meeting. Amy suggested getting feedback from the people who live near KHR. Don said that part of the problem is their fault, since they cut trails which are seen and used by other people. Henry said he has talked to some of the neighbors and gotten resistance. Chuck said we should try to get an idea of the number of users. Don pointed out that if someone gets hurt, a rescue vehicle wouldn’t be able to get through if there are too many cars. He asked that we pay attention when we are out hiking to how many cars are there. Amy said she went hiking on a trail in New London and they asked people to sign in and sign out and give the number of people in their party. Henry said it is very important to provide access to our trails, but we need to think about how these parking issues fit with our goals as a conservation organization. Bonnie said she felt that any money spent for parking lot construction should come out of the special projects account and not out of our conservation fund, which is for land conservation.

Bean Quarry gate installation – Henry displayed a letter he wrote to Travis Perkins, who installed the gate after having been paid for it last December. He also showed us some pictures of the gate, showing large boulders placed to the sides of it to block ATVs. Travis leveled off the area in front of the gate, which was rutted.  Henry showed a picture of the entrance to the log landing, near the junction of Poor Farm Rd with Kings Hill Rd. It shows where Travis cut down a large pine tree and placed two sections of the trunk across the entrance where the ATVs were coming in.

Status of gravel placement over two KHR culverts – Wally was going to be doing this, but Don has not heard whether he did it.  Chuck told us that he cleared debris out of the first culvert on Penacook Path, and cleaned up the debris that had washed over it, so it is now ready to receive the gravel. He said he can go over there with Wally. Chuck also cleared all the way up Penacook Path with a chainsaw. Henry cleared a large fallen tree on King’s Run at KHR.

Trail work volunteering signup at KHR kiosk – Henry displayed a picture of the kiosk at KHR, with the new roof. There is a notice on the front saying that we are looking for trail helpers, with a list of tasks and space for names. Interested people are supposed to call Henry for more information. The back of the kiosk has a sheet of Plexiglas over a beautiful new contour map showing the distances of the trails. There is a list of suggested loop walks, with mileages. There is also a list of “fun walks”, that feature things like the vernal pool and the old ski trails with their sign posts. Henry would like to add a historical walk, and one featuring flora and fauna. Amy said this will be really helpful for people with physical limitations, who are going to an unknown area and need to know what level of difficulty to expect. Don said the New London Historical Society uses QR codes on their walks, which can be scanned for information, and updated periodically. He wants to find out how this works. He’d like to be able to update the fun trails with new information, like what wildflowers are currently in bloom, etc. He said you cannot separate the cultural and natural worlds. He has a vision of providing links to poetry, music and science.

Status of Sundell Natural Area – Don said Roger Wells pointed out that this is kind of a mess, with downed branches and remnants of old carpeting that was used in an effort to smother Japanese Knotweed. Roger had asked Henry for permission to do some cleanup, but now it seems like he wants the SCC to do it. Amy asked if the carpeting worked, and Don said yes and no. Some of it fell apart and was taken to the dump. Debbie and Amy said they might go up and take a look at it.

Maintenance of small parking lot at jct of Kings Hill Rd, Hominy Pot Rd and Kezar St – Don said the surface is not draining and it is a mudhole. A volunteer is needed to talk with the selectmen or Adam Hurst. Maybe Wally can mention it when he talks to Adam. Chuck asked if there is a reason we are involved in this, and Don said maybe improved parking here would help with the congestion at Horse Beach, since walkers could park here.

Contact person for snow plowing Sutton trailhead parking areas – Don said Jerry Gagnon, who mows the field at Enroth, might be able to do this. Don will talk to him.

 

Miscellaneous

 

Wally offered to have next month’s meeting at his house, if we would like to meet outside. The group decided against.

 

Amy reported that the cover story of the current National Geographic is about insect extinction and cites two experimental forests in NH. The statistics on the losses of numbers and diversity of insects are shocking. Amy said we should all try to create more habitat and plant more native plants. Also, Sutton has two professional beekeepers who will help people learn to keep bees. She said insects are an important food for amphibians and other animals. Henry would like to see a trail walk featuring this information. Amy said the two experimental forests are Bartlett and Hubbard Brook. You can look at their data on their websites.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:26 PM.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, June 10th, 2020, at 6:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Hill, Secretary