The Harrisville Conservation Commission met for its regular meeting on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road.
Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Winston Sims, Kathy Scott, Les LaMois, Andrea Polizos
Members of the public: Dublin Conservation Commission members Wendy White, Katie Featherston, and Traceymay Kalvaitis (Chair); David Belknap, Harrisville Health Officer; Don Scott; Pegg Monahan
The meeting opened at 7:03 pm with Harry Wolhandler introducing attending members of the Dublin Conservation Commission.
Les LaMois moved to accept the agenda with the revised order of business. All voted in favor.
1 – Invasive Species Management – The Dublin Conservation Commission Experience
The HCC invited members of the Dublin Conservation Commission to share their experiences and the methods they’ve employed for managing Japanese knotweed. Harry Wolhandler noted that, in Harrisville, a larger patch of knotweed exists at the corner of 137 and Hancock Road, and smaller patches have appeared along Chesham Road and in a couple of spots on Main Street. The HCC intends to spend the year identifying other locations, working to educate residents about knotweed and land invasives and plan for their control or removal. Mr. Wolhandler noted that Jeff Taylor of Vegetation Control Services in Richmond offered to attend an HCC meeting in late summer to discuss spraying, what it involves, and the work he’s doing in other towns, including public outreach, to help them with similar initiatives. Another possible resource is Doug Cygan, land invasive specialist for the state.
Wendy White of the DCC summarized their progression of approaches, beginning in 2009 with non-chemical methods on town land in Dublin. These four non-chemical techniques included pulling up, cutting and removing stems, cutting the branches and leaving cut stems on the stumps to wither in place avoid contaminating new areas, and cutting and smothering them with black plastic, none of which proved satisfactory to stop the growth or spread of the resilient plant. Members offered their personal views of using the herbicide containing glyphosate, expressing their reservations or concerns about this technique and the desire for more integrated management methods.
In 2011, the DCC required property owners who had Japanese knotweed and wanted to participate in the town-sponsored program to cut in the spring and then hired Jeff Taylor of Vegetation Control Systems to spray in the fall, which was tried in a few areas, a technique which resulted in limited regrowth the following spring. However, spraying was not allowed in many areas, such as along public roads and near water, without permits for professional spraying. Mr. Taylor secured the proper permits for treatment in additional areas while the DCC engaged in an outreach campaign to Dublin residents. With what was done over the years, success was estimated at 80%, but not complete. It was found that approximately 80% of the identified areas showed positive results and even found limited regrowth of native vegetation. Additional comments from the Dublin experience included: disposal is extremely difficult, sometimes resulting in additional spreading rather than removal; the highest cost for one year during this period was $2,600 and expenses last year were approximately $1,900; where plants are located along waterbodies they require a different mixture to protect the aquatic environment; where large areas of land are covered in knotweed, spraying was called for because cutting and transporting are not practical. Cutting and bagging were possible on very limited patches because transporting has a risk of spreading knotweed.; spraying was found most effective from September through November, when the juices of the plant recede to the roots to prepare for winter. Members were unsure if spraying was more effective when more leaves are exposed; they also noted the knotweed is never entirely removed.
David Belknap, Health Officer for the Town of Harrisville, stated he was attending only to advise, but he spoke emphatically about his opposition to the use of any herbicide, based on his knowledge of the biology and the research and the unknown short and long term effects. He spoke only in favor of non-chemical eradication and noted that knotweed is a crop that can be harvested and fed to animals, is foraged by sheep, has regenerated but hasn’t expanded, that it’s not a native plant and that pollinators use it. He noted the potential collateral environmental damage and that it has been outlawed in Scandinavia. Mr. Belknap added that glyphosate degrades very slowly and that there is no way to control leeching into wetlands. Mr. Wolhandler offered that there is another school of thought which believes that the chemical can be used safely if controlled properly and applied, for example, at a distance from any food source or areas populated by children. He acknowledged the material sent to him last year by Mr. Belknap and stated he would review it again.
Following further discussion of knotweed’s characteristics, damaging effects on concrete, resiliency and potential uses, as well as the change in the makeup of the spray, Mr. Belknap reiterated that he sees no justification for the use of chemicals. The Dublin CC recommended three steps to the HCC: talk to the Road Agent, look at a different spraying schedule, perhaps every other year, and use a control area to see how fast – and where – the knotweed is spreading most. They very much would like to stay in touch with the HCC on this.
In an update on the DCC’s experience with other invasives, Harry Wolhandler noted that milfoil has been removed in Dublin lake as of 2-3 years ago, though the DCC noted pipewort has appeared. The DCC is also addressing loosestrife using Galerucella beetles, with the hope of establishing a breeding population rather than having to purchase them.
Mr. Wolhandler and Ms. Scott recused themselves from the following matter, and Les LaMois assumed the position of Chair.
2 – Wetlands Permit Application – Presentation by Don Scott for Wolhandler/Monahan Perched Beach – Map 51-Lot 42
Don Scott presented a design plan for a proposed perched beach at the residence of Mr. Wolhandler and Pegg Monahan, requesting a signature from the HCC on an application to the state DES for expedited review. The application proposes a project that requires excavation within the protected shoreland buffer zone. Mr. Scott explained that the Wetlands permit process has a specific expedited option (30 days versus 75 days), wherein the state allows local conservation commissions, if they approve of the proposal, to sign off on the permit before it is submitted to the state. If the local commission does not approve, the state officials conduct a site visit.
Mr. Scott shared with HCC members copies of DES fact sheets about the state design requirements for perched beaches as well as a letter to abutters describing the project and the approval process.
The letter to abutters in part reads: The project is to reconstruct the existing sloping beach area (15’x30’). A perched and level new beach area measuring 14’x16’ is proposed at the base of the slope, to be edged with a low stone wall 24” high x 34’ long. A second level terrace (not a perched beach) measuring 15×25 will lie 24” above the beach and be retained by two 24”-high stone walls. The terrace will also be level and will have stepping stones and low native groundcovers (wooly thyme and low grasses). Two sets of steps will lead from Tuttle Lane to the terrace and then down to the beach. Another two steps will lead to the water’s edge from the level beach.
Don Scott explained that the state design criteria address the location of a perched beach, which is not allowed on a slope exceeding 25% (Mr. Scott’s worst-case calculation for the subject property shows 24%.) Mr. Scott further described the design and layout, noting that the beach and terrace areas must be level to prevent sand and silt from washing into the pond, and that the areas will serve as infiltration beds for groundwater runoff and will manage the dispersion of sand and silt. He noted that all existing vegetation will remain. Further requirements include the need for a structural barrier around the beach’s circumference to contain the sand, and that this barrier must be 12” above the high-water line. To redirect water behind the highest wall, Mr. Scott will add a swale by building up one section of the wall to control flow.
Mr. Scott noted that regulations allow existing beaches to be replenished every 6 years with up to 10 yards of material. Mr. Scott and Mr. Wolhandler addressed questions from HCC members about management of runoff onto Tuttle Lane, who would do the excavation and landscaping work, and what restrictions are imposed, or oversight conducted, during the proposed work. Mr. Scott noted that the State imposes restrictions that are attached to the permit and that are posted at the site, adding that the HCC can police that and are often required to inspect during construction. Mr. Scott then described the steps that would be taken to prepare the site for the proposed work, including installation of a silt fence and tying up the shrubs.
Included in the letter to abutters is the statement that, once the application is filed, the application with the plans of the proposed project and wetlands and other jurisdictional impacts will be available to the public during business hours at the town office or at the offices of the DES Wetlands Bureau. The letter suggests calling ahead to ensure the application is available for review.
With no further questions raised, Les LaMois subsequently moved to accept the proposal for expedited permitting with the State and to sign the expedited portion of the application to DES, thereby acknowledging that the HCC has no concerns about negative effects on the pond. Andrea Polizos seconded. The vote was unanimous, 3-0, in favor.Mr. LaMois, as acting secretary, signed.
Harry Wolhandler and Kathy Scott rejoined the board for the remainder of the meeting.
3 – NH Lakes Congress Update
Mr. Wolhandler asked for takeaways from those who attended. All spoke favorably. Pegg Monahan suggested that Lake Hosts, in addition to checking boats and trailers for invasive species, also check areas around the boat ramps where invasive species are known to originate. She also hopes to remind fishermen to use lead-free lures and sinkers, which is the law. Ms. Monahan noted that the new Harrisville Pond Lake Host program received a $1,000 grant to cover hourly pay for staff from 4thof July through Labor Day and training in Concord. Grants can be higher based on the number of volunteer hours each lake association supplies.
Andrea Polizos attended lake chemistry discussions. She expressed concern about the lack of a central repository of data on monitoring of weeds, when, which and if they are being checked and by whom. Harry Wolhandler noted that the NH VLAP program oversees collection of data. Though the weed watchers program is a separate entity, they work together in the same office. Winston Sims noted that VLAP representatives are coming to Harrisville Pond this year on, as yet, unspecified dates. Mr. Wolhandler confirmed information is available on the DES website.
The question arose about bodies of water without lake associations as VLAP only applies to lakes and ponds with associations. When invasive species are identified around boat ramps, DES sends divers out to inspect and mitigate at their own cost. The key to keeping costs down is early detection, and trailers are the biggest offenders. All agreed the HCC should be looking at boat entries on other water bodies. Mr. Sims also emphasized the importance of weed watching, and the advantage that paddle boarders have monitoring and identifying. The group agreed that engaging youth and fishermen would significantly strengthen the weed-watching effort, as might a wash station.
4 – Old Home Days – Communications Opportunities and Messaging
Topics for outreach include roadside cleanup, the Lake Host program, and knotweed/invasive species. The group discussed logistics of a tent and tables. Harry Wolhandler will put a board together on knotweed and will provide tables and Mr. Sims will provide a tent. Mr. LaMois will prepare material on roadside cleanup.
The group discussed outreach on the topic of watersheds, whether as a standalone Community Conversation or as part of a larger program. No conclusion was reached. Mr. Sims will draft a questionnaire for Old Home Days.
Meeting adjourned at 9:22 pm.