Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Meeting Minutes

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Kathy Scott, Les LaMois, Don Scott, Winston Sims

Members of the public: Ryan Stone, Stephanie Stone, Rich Taylor, Diana Shonk, Swifty Corwin, Leah Corwin

Members approved the agenda as proposed.

Minutes of previous meeting 2/5/2020
Members voted unanimously in favor to approve the minutes of the February meeting.

Welcome Earl Horn
Though Mr. Horn could not attend, the Chair welcomed him as a new member. Mr. Wolhandler also welcomed Diana Shonk, who has expressed interest in joining the HCC.

Report of timber-cutting
Property owners Swifty and Leah Corwin attended to describe to the HCC the nature of the work been done on their property on NH Route 137, which straddles Hancock and Harrisville. Abutters Stephanie and Ryan Stone had contacted town officials and the DES, concerned that timber cutting by the property owners may be encroaching on wetlands. The Stones requested understanding of the regulations guiding timber cutting and land clearing, and they sought input from the Conservation Commission on the matter.

The Corwins confirmed their intent to clear portions of their land, historically a farm, to return the land to pasture to grow food, flowers and possibly to raise cows. They stated they had cleared approximately 1500 feet of pine within the Harrisville bounds for their own use and that this wood was not merchandisable. They also confirmed they had filed an Intent to Cut in Hancock and was informed by the Harrisville Assessor of their need to file similarly in Harrisville, though the quantity and type of timber did not meet the standard for assessment purposes. The Corwins further confirmed that the amount of timber had been quantified by a forester, and that a Keene surveyor had marked the property bounds. Additionally, no cutting has taken place in wetlands. Mr. Corwin has a professional tree business and Ms. Corwin holds a degree in soil science. Ms. Corwin also, previously, for ten years, was a wetland biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They noted their high sensitivity to soil disturbance. In addition, they noted they are abiding by the state requirement to keep all brush 25 feet from the property line.

In discussion of how the land will be reclaimed, the Corwins replied it will be done in phases as they want to avoid bringing in heavy equipment and resources are limited. Over the summer, they plan to clean up brush, and to remove stumps and sticks; they would like to make it mowable and to keep as much topsoil as possible, adding organic matter. They do not want to remove screening/buffer that currently exists between them and the abutting lot. When ground conditions allow, they will pull stumps in small areas at a time. It is their understanding 2 acres can be stumped without an AOT (Alteration of Terrain) permit. They intend to be good stewards and good neighbors.

The Stones noted their concern about wet /poorly draining areas along their boundary containing wildlife habitats. They had written the DES because they want to fully understand what can and can’t be done.  Mr. Wolhandler, in response to the Stones’ questions, read aloud sections of NH RSA 227-J:5, J:6 and J:7, addressing Timber Harvesting, as follows:
227-J:5 Notice of Intent to Cut and Report of Wood Cut. – Pursuant to RSA 79:10 and 11, any owner, as defined in RSA 79:1, II, conducting a cutting operation shall file an intent to cut and a report of wood cut. Pursuant to RSA 79:10, I(d), the intent to cut form as signed or properly noted as being signed by the assessing officials or the certificate issued by the department of revenue administration shall be posted prior to starting a cutting operation. Failure to comply with these requirements and those contained in RSA 79 may result in penalties to the owner or any other person doing the cutting, or both, under RSA 79.

227-J:6 Operations in Wetlands. – I. Pursuant to RSA 482-A no person shall excavate, remove, fill, dredge, or construct any structures in or on any bank, flat, marsh, or swamp in and adjacent to any waters of the state without a permit from the department of environmental services. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties under RSA 482-A.
II. Pursuant to RSA 482-A:3, V, persons who have complied with notice of intent to cut wood requirements under RSA 79:10, and who have filed an appropriate notification of forest management activities having minimum wetlands impact with the department of environmental services and the department of natural and cultural resources, shall have satisfied the permitting requirements for minimum impact activities.
III. Pursuant to the rules of the department of environmental services, skid trails, truck roads and culverts, bridges, pole fords, or other crossings on the skid trails or truck roads shall be constructed in accordance with procedures as currently cited in the Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire, published by the department.

227-J:7 Alteration of Terrain. – I. Pursuant to RSA 485-A:17, any person proposing to dredge, excavate, place fill, mine, transport forest products, or undertake construction in or on the border of the surface waters of the state, and any person proposing to significantly alter the characteristics of the terrain, in such a manner as to impede the natural runoff or create an unnatural runoff shall comply with the provisions of RSA 485-A. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties under RSA 485-A.
II. Permits are obtained by signing the intent to cut form as provided in RSA 485-A:17, III.

Mr. Wolhandler noted if the Corwins were going to affect hydric soils, they would have to follow the state forestry regulations. As there were no other comments or questions from commission members or attendees, and no additional information to present at this time, the HCC moved on to its next order of business.

Trails Committee
Members discussed the map, which originated out of SWRPC and which the HCC would like to adapt for public trails for interpretive/educational purpose – e.g., to note different animal habitats, vegetation of interest, wetlands and vernal pools. The HCC will follow the Trails Committee’s lead on how to move ahead.  Trails Committee suggests mapping loops, to which the HCC could then add environmental or historical information, and help with signage and printing costs. Kathy Scott suggested a subcommittee may be the best way to move the project forward. She subsequently moved for the HCC to work with the Trails Committee and possibly other groups to develop interpretive maps regarding the public trails in town. Andrea Polizos seconded it. All voted in favor.

Separately, the HCC thanked the Road Agent and Highway crew for maintaining the parking area for the Eastview Rail Trail for winter use.  Kathy Scott noted it would be helpful for the SB to be kept aware of condition and/or damage to any stretches of town-owned portions of trails.

2020 Spring Programs
The HCC will work to expanded salamander brigade trainingin April, the exact date to be determined. For Roadside cleanupas part of Earth Day, members determined April 25thwould be the best day. Weedwatcher Trainingis scheduled for June 6th.

Pond Association and Lake Host Connections
The HCC hopes to coordinate all three lake host programs, and possibly find a coordinator. Members discussed the difficulty of finding and keeping qualified lake hosts.  They will continue discussion at later date.

Kathy Scott expressed interest in having Lake Association representatives get in touch with the parade group for the Sesquicentennial/150th.

New membership
The HCC moved to nominate Diana Shonk as HCC member. All voted in favor. HCC will submit nomination to SB.

Harris Center
The Harris Center is sponsoring a Vernal Pool Project with a training hike at Horatio Colony Nature Preserve on April 22, from 1-3 pm, in Keene. Another, on April 26 from 1-4 pm, is titled Vernal Pools 101and will be at the Harris Center. To register contact Brett Thelen.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.