Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Members present: Winston Sims, Les LaMois, Harry Wolhandler, Andrea Polizos
Members absent: Jay Jacobs
The proposed agenda was approved by all.
Minutes of previous meeting
Andrea Polizos moved to approve the minutes as written. Harry Wolhandler seconded. All voted in favor.
Report of the Select Board Representative
Les LaMois moved to set the item aside. All agreed.
Statements of members’ interests
Andrea Polizos reported on her discussion with Brett Thelen of The Harris Center on culvert design for flood control and wildlife passage. Andrea will attend the Nelson Conservation Commission meeting next week where Colin Lawson of Trout Unlimited will speak on the subject. Andrea noted that climate change, as well as the flood in Alstead, largely caused by an undersized culvert, has led to increasing attention to culvert design. The Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Group is looking at the problem and the town of Hancock is partnering with Southwest Regional Planning (SWRP) to assist with assessment of culvert crossings on their paved roads. Nelson is beginning to do the same. She also noted Keene State College students worked with The Harris Center this summer to begin to map culverts in the area. Wildlife groups, the DOT and local highway departments are all involved. HCC members discussed when or how it might make sense for the HCC to be involved and contribute. At this point, noted Andrea, it’s about the interested agencies’ surveying of the existing infrastructure. She will update the group at next month’s meeting.
Harry Wolhandler then segued into discussion of funding and what level of funding the HCC should be prepared to bear for risk management issues such as culvert design, and who ultimately should bear the cost of such matters. He asked what the conservation risks are that the HCC should be prepared to protect against, e.g., milfoil. Winston Sims stated he believes the lake associations, more than the town, are responsible for the health of these bodies of water. Others noted this works up to a point and that the HCC needs to be prepared. Les LaMois noted he would reach out to Jack Calhoun to follow up about the Harrisville Pond Association, and Andrea noted the grant opportunity for Lake Host assistance begins again in March. The group noted the challenge of initiating and garnering momentum given the number of part-time or summer-only residents. They also reviewed who is conducting VLAP and e-coli tests.
After discussing the value of the Lake Host Program and Lake Associations and the organizational challenges they face, Harry Wolhandler recommended sending letters to each of the Lake Associations, reminding them of grant application deadlines, expressing the HCC’s interests and requesting their plans and any needs they may have. The group agreed. Harry will forward any contact information he has to Winston.
Winston Sims then discussed his interest in watershed issues and in moving work on it ahead, possibly with a Community Conversation on the topic. He has prepared an outline with potential topics of discussion and would like to get input from the Planning Board on holding such a gathering.
Conversation then moved to Les LaMois’s interest in improving the communication among town agencies surrounding the permitting process and ensuring all boards are notified when applications are filed and construction of interest to the HCC is being done. Andrea Polizos suggested talking to people directly to get the necessary information and Winston Sims noted that the town had drafted two documents outlining the permitting process. He also suggested that experts such as Don Scott are helpful in learning about issues of interest to the HCC.
Draft annual report
Following the distribution of a draft report by Mr. Sims, the group discussed what information is appropriate for, and what is the best approach, for the HCC’s annual report. They reviewed again the matter of last year’s Warrant Article on the closing of the Land Conservation Trust Fund and the HCC’s decision at its last meeting, upon Harry Wolhandler’s initiative, to re-propose the Warrant Article at the 2018 Town Meeting to return $20,000 in funds to the town’s general fund. Andrea Polizos, Harry Wolhandler and Les LaMois restated their reasons for voting to return the funds and Mr. Sims restated his opposition to it. Returning to the matter of the draft report, Andrea Polizos distributed a revised draft that she prepared and the group discussed its content, with Harry Wolhandler requesting to note that the HCC continues to retain $67,000 which allows it the opportunity to face an environmental threat such as milfoil invasion. The group also discussed the potential process for approaching town if the need arises for additional conservation funds.
Disposition of Patton lands. Notarized letter
WS updated group that two lots have been placed in conservation easement. Been left to town. Whether HCC would assist with monitoring process. Monadnock Conservancy stated HJCC would not be involved in monitoring…that normally it’s done by entity outside town
Hazardous materials; management
Discussion tabled until next month.
Meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.