Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes


Sutton Conservation Commission

Draft Meeting Minutes

Wednesday,  August 12, 2020

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

Absent: Chuck Bolduc. Bonnie sat in for Chuck.

Members of the public present: Lynn Wittman.

This meeting was held remotely via GoToMeeting due to the Covid-19 emergency. Henry volunteered to be the contact person for members of the public having difficulties connecting, and gave his phone number.


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. He welcomed Lynn Wittman. Every person attending identified him/herself by name, gave their location, and listed other people that were or might be present. Wally Baker called the meeting to order at 6:37 pm.


Previous Meeting’s Minutes: Henry made a motion to approve the minutes from the 7/8/2020 meeting, and Debbie 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 had sent out a financial report to the SCC members before the meeting. It reported that in July, the only expenditure was for secretarial services.  The budget has not yet been adjusted for the town-mandated reduction. YTD expenses are: Secretarial services – $666 out of $1267 total budget; Dues/Conferences – $450 out of 1350 total; Expenses – $144 out of $800 total; Supplies – $0 out of $170 total; Special Projects – $75 out of $4000 total. Total expenses YTD are $1335 out of a total budget of $7537. The balance in the Conservation Fund was $150,627.27 at month end and $2,772 was in the KHR fund.  The SCC Capital Reserve has a balance of approximately $50,299.  Henry made a motion to accept the financial report and Wally seconded, and the vote to accept it was unanimously in favor.


  • Letter from Amy Highstrom regarding a property for sale on Baker Hill Rd, expressing the opinion that it not be subdivided, as it has high conservation value., and making part of the public record a desire by the abutters that the land be considered for conservation.
  • Letter from Susan and Dennis DeAppolonio, regarding a property for sale on Baker Hill Rd, expressing opposition to the development of the parcel as a multi-lot subdivision, expressing concerns about runoff, erosion, and the destruction of the mountain. Debbie said that when this variance request comes before the Zoning Board, it might be worthwhile going to the meeting. (ZBA hearings are the 3rd Wednesday of the month.) Lynn asked why this parcel is thought to have high conservation value, and Amy explained about the rankings shown in our Strategic Action Plan and map. She added that Fish & Game has used this land for releasing bobcats, which shows that they regard this land as prime habitat.
  • NHACC July 2020 eNews, with link to UNH Extension’s “Trails for People and Wildlife” webinar, on Thursday, August 13 at 3:00 PM. Bonnie pointed out that the webinar will be available online after that date.
  • Email from Lynn Wittman regarding a kiosk at Horse Beach boat launch and possible Porta-Potty on Kezar Lake Natural Area (KLNA) land.  Lynn thought the cost would be around $500, which the Kezar Lake Protective Association (KLPA) would pay. She thought if it were on the border of the SCC property it might be easier to get it permitted. Wally asked if the SCC was open to the idea of a kiosk, and Henry said we should vote on it. Henry asked if there is an easement on KLNA, and Bonnie said no. Wally asked each member of the commission in turn what he or she thought about it, and nobody had an objection. Barb said if there’s no easement this is probably OK. Wally said he would check with Elly Phillips. Wally, Henry and Lynn will meet this Saturday at 10:00 to pick a location and mark it. As for the Porta-Potty, Wally said that is a touchier issue. Lynn said she was approached by the State Park people about it. Amy asked what objection they had to people using the restroom at the park, and Lynn said the issue is people need a reservation now to go to the state park. She envisions a Porta-Potty tucked into a back corner of the KLNA land. Bonnie asked who would pay for it, and Lynn said the KLPA. She would like to try it for a month and see how it goes. She said there may be a question of liability. Wally said it would be necessary to site it so there is truck access, for maintenance. Wally will talk to Elly about this, and a suitable location will be scouted on Saturday.
  • Email from NHACC regarding “Farms for the Future: A Skill-Building Workshop Series for Municipalities, Land Trusts, and Non-Profits to Support Farms and Farmers in northern New England” webinar series, starting August 18th. This is a 5-part series.
  • Email from Merrimack County Conservation District announcing fall bulb sale fundraiser and news about new protected farmland in Merrimack County.
  • Thank You letter from Henry & Wally to Matthew Churchwell & Boy Scout Troop 71 for their work in building the Webb/Crowell ramp.
  • Email letter from the Warner Conservation Commission asking the SCC to write a letter in support of their request for ARM funds to replace a culvert in Ballard Brook that inhibits the movement of native brook trout. The email included suggested talking points from Fish & Game biologist Ben Nugent. Barb volunteered to write this letter on behalf of the SCC.


7:00 – Appointment with Geoff Lizotte, presenting a summary of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association’s (LSPA’s) Watershed Management Plan.

Geoff said he was the project manager for the creation of this plan which started in 2017 with funds from the Clean Water Act.  LSPA had had a plan done in 2008, but there have been a lot of changes since then. The purpose of the plan is to improve the water quality of Lake Sunapee. The importance of this is clear – Lake Sunapee is the drinking water source for the town of Sunapee, it is the headwaters of the Sugar River, and the clean lake is an important tourist attraction. Water quality data has been collected for the lake since 1986. They focused on phosphorus, since small changes in this can have a huge impact. They came up with a 10-year action plan to reach their goal, which is a 7 ½ % reduction in phosphorus in 10 years. Phosphorus is what leads to algae blooms. Some sources of pollution are pet waste, fertilizer, leaking vehicle fluids, microplastics including microbeads, salt use, waterfowl waste, storm runoff, land disturbance, and leaking septic systems. In NH there is not a lot of oversight on aging septic systems. 90% of the phosphorous comes from human land activity. Prevention is easier than reversal. Education and outreach, land conservation, regulation and zoning are some of the methods used. Land conservation prevents future loading of phosphorus, and regulations can ensure that runoff does not increase after a piece of land is developed. A huge part of the success of the plan depends on cooperation with the state (regarding roads, mainly) and with people changing their practices regarding fertilizer use, etc. Climate is a big factor – the temperature of the lake has risen over time, and this leads to an increase in biologic activity and a decrease in oxygen. Geoff explained in detail how the data in the Plan was obtained. Surveys were done, looking for signs of erosion, sedimentation, etc, and noting them. They came up with Best Management Practices, and met with road agents to talk about problem areas. Then a land cover assessment was done. This goes into the modeling process, which uses GIS software and includes a build-out analysis. For the land cover assessment, satellites record changing land cover over time. This is used in the modeling process to get an indication of how much phosphorus is likely to come from each kind of land cover. Phosphorous can come from any of the three drainage basins. The model shows today’s lake condition as well as predicting the future. If all the land is developed that can be developed, the future picture is not pretty. A small piece of Sutton is in this watershed, and Geoff said he is happy to provide advice to us going forward, if we have problems with Kezar Lake. Amy asked what kinds of efforts are being made to get people to use less fertilizer. Geoff said they have educational programs for landscapers and property managers, and there is the Green SnowPro program. They are still trying to figure out how to reach people, such as through ads in the Shopper. Henry asked about town laws. Geoff said the watershed committee has a representative from each of the affected towns, and they make suggestions such as to share a code enforcement officer to enforce existing regulations. Here is a link to the management plan: Debbie thanked Geoff for the informative presentation.


Review of Wetland Applications and Issues:

Copy of a Letter of Compliance for a Letter of Deficiency from NHDES for C. Manning, File #2018-01292, T/L #06-610-001.


Review of Intents to Cut and Logging Issues:

  • Palmer, Baker Rd, 30 out of 45 acres, T/L #07-204-450, Nicholas Rowe, logger. Wally said that Nick Rowe is a local guy and he doesn’t see any problem here.
  • Friel, Baker Rd, 26 out of 26.4 acres, T/L #07-198-408, Nicholas Rowe, logger.
  • Supplemental to 20-439-11: K. Fischer-Anderson, Old Sutton Rd/Foothills Rd, 35 acres out of 64.8, T/L#s 02-830-262, 02-810-302, 02-844-231, Michelle Lemire, logger.


Old business

Report on Eagle Scout project celebration – Henry showed pictures from the celebration. Matthew gave the SCC a check for around $1230, the unspent balance from his fundraising efforts, and this was deposited to the Conservation Fund. Henry said Matthew and his family were very appreciative of the celebration and the plaque.


Report from Property Advisory Committee – Barb reported that she called four appraisers, and hired one who has worked with the Pembroke Conservation Commission. She is expecting his report on Friday. She has researched ways to get money to purchase land. The grant with the most imminent deadline is the Moose Plate grant program, which can grant up to $24,000. She will start putting together an application for the SCC to review at our next meeting. The deadline for submittal is the next day, September 10th. Barb said another possible funding source is the Leighton Family Foundation, which has a rolling deadline, but she indicated that there might be less interest there. Debbie asked about the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership’s grant program. Don said Sutton is included in the region of interest. Barb said she would look into this. Don suggested asking Debbie Stanley of the ASLPT for advice about funding sources. Barb said that our grant applications should be generic, and not tied to specific land parcels.


Review of Sutton Conservation Properties to be monitored by Sutton – Don has created an Excel spreadsheet listing all of the conserved properties, with columns for name, owner, tax map number, acreage, type of easement, etc. On a map, he blocked out all the conserved properties and was surprised to see how many there were. Nine properties can be directly linked to KHR. Henry asked if this shows which properties SCC is responsible for monitoring. Don said the Wells parcels are the only ones that the SCC is responsible for. We have a secondary interest in the Emerson parcel but are not responsible for monitoring it. He said that as owners we have certain responsibilities, and as easement holders we have others. One is the enforcement of regulations when, for example, someone does something that violates the terms of the easement. He asked Barb what we should do in that case, and she thought maybe call the police. Wally said that in cases such as building encroachment, the BOS would issue a cease and desist order, and the police would carry it out. Bonnie asked about ATV activity. She said she has been monitoring the Wells lots, and there are ATVs driving from an abutting property across the Wells land to Dodge Hill Rd. Wally said get the name and address of that property, and send them a letter, or have Elly send a letter on our behalf. Henry said they should not even be driving on Dodge Hill Rd, which is Class VI, without permission of the BOS. Barb said the first thing that should be done is to put up signs prohibiting ATV usage, as otherwise the violators could say they didn’t know it wasn’t permitted.


New Business

Report from NSIS meeting regarding beach parking and water celery – Don reported that the discussion of parking issues was very lengthy. Concern was expressed that the parking lot could be taken over by the town. Since the easement can be ended at any time, this is not an issue. Questions were asked about what kind of maintenance was allowed. The president assured the group that any major maintenance projects beyond routine plowing, etc, would be brought before the entire group for approval.  Some were concerned about the possibility of paving, but Don did not think DES would allow that. Finally everything passed, and the easement was signed. Lynn asked how this would be paid for, and Wally said there has been no discussion of money yet. He is waiting to get an engineer involved, and will be attending Monday’s BOS meeting. A DES permit is needed and is in the works. He said there is plenty of money to do this, and the town will be assuming the responsibility of taking care of it from now on. Regarding the water celery, Don told the group that we would love to have some help with the eradication, and some of the members said they were willing to help next time we have a weed-pulling day.


Report on Japanese Knotweed Advisory Session – Last Thursday Wally met with Doug Cygan ( invasive plant specialist from DES), Ernie Brake (local landscaper), and Chris Kane (local resident and consultant to conservation groups), at the Sundell Natural Area. Doug said that the terrain there is not conducive to a smothering approach. He uses an herbicide that is not related to Round-up. It is sprayed on the plants and attaches to the leaves, from where it travels down and destroys the roots. There is no run-off, and it won’t get into the water supply. It has to be done before the plant goes to seed. The plant will grow back weaker each year for a couple of years before going away. For the future, he suggests cutting it in June so it will grow back smaller. There would be no cost to the town or SCC for the spraying. He suggests mowing a path around the knotweed patch to isolate it and make it easier to access. As for disposal, the dead plants can be taken to the burn pile at the dump using the town dump truck. Wally said Ernie Brake offered to help with the cutting and disposal. (As an aside, Wally cautioned people about using ditching material on their property, as this can spread knotweed) Doug told him the area adjacent to the knotweed patch is great for a pollinator garden. Amy asked if the poison ivy in that area could also be sprayed. She said her mind has been changed regarding these chemicals. She visited a property where an herbicide that she thinks is probably the same one under discussion had been sprayed for Oriental bittersweet. One year later, the habitat was vastly improved. She looked at the EPA website and found that this chemical has no effect on bees. She said there is a really big patch of Oriental bittersweet on Penacook Path that should be taken care of. Barb made a motion to ask Wally to ask DES to spray the Japanese knotweed at Sundell, and Debbie seconded. The roll call vote was unanimously in favor.


New SCC email address – Bonnie asked Elly to create a town email account exclusively for the SCC, for use on our website and signage, etc, and she did so. It is




Eagle Scout Project – Henry has written a draft article for the local newspapers and is waiting for Matthew’s approval before submitting it.


SCC Website – Henry stressed the importance of keeping the website alive and vibrant by feeding it material. Send information to Bonnie.


Trail Maintenance and Development


Trails Advisory Committee Report

Maple Leaf Trail route development – Don reported that he and Henry worked at Maple Leaf in late July and walked the trail that Don, Bonnie, Jane Williamson and Betsy Forsham laid out several years ago. He said we need to finalize the upper part f the trail. He found a cellar hole or old foundation that he’d never seen before. The trail should be moved a bit at the end. We can start cutting any time. The trail goes by the brook and up onto a ridge, where you can see for a long way. It’s about the same length as the Penacook Path, and not a difficult walk. He thinks the sign should be moved to a different location so the kiosk could be placed in that spot. He would like to see all the shrubbery cut down that is in front of the stone wall in the parking lot. Henry said he has already done a lot of that. Amy asked the trails committee to think about placing a small sign or arrow in the parking lot at Maple Leaf indicating how to get to Penacook Path from there, as this is not clear. She also suggested signage near the entrance to the ski slopes, indicating that there are more trails beyond Penacook Path.

Update on sign-making for our conservation lands – Henry has been working very hard on the routing out of the signs. When he is finished he will pass them out to the volunteers to be painted.

Kiosks – The new kiosk is in at Webb/Crowell, and now we need kiosks placed at Maple Leaf, the Enroth Trail, and Kezar Lake Natural Area. Also a new sign is needed at the Town Forest. The info shown at the kiosks should make it clear what the trails are like: how long, how difficult, what you will see.

Historic Eaton Grange Road walk – Henry is working with Jack Noon on documenting the historic landmarks along this walking route. It is shown on the map at the Webb/Crowell kiosk.

Hiking challenge – Don pointed out that ASLPT and SPNHF both have local hiking promotions and he thinks we should do something like that, too. For example, people could get something if they complete one of our hikes and send us a picture. Henry showed us his map that shows all the trails in Sutton.


Farewell and Thank You to Amy Highstrom! Amy has regretfully resigned from the SCC, and the SCC members all expressed their dismay at seeing her go, as she has contributed so much to the commission. We hope that she may return to us when Covid-19 is history, and her workload has returned to normal.


Adjournment: Henry moved to adjourn the meeting, and Debbie seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 8:44 PM.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, September 9th, 2020, at 6:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Hill, Secretary