Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Meeting Minutes

The Conservation Commission held a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at town offices.

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Kathy Scott, Don Scott, Ralph Zingaro, and John Sandri

Attendees:  George Lowrey, Bonnie Lowrey, Charles Sorenson, Nancy Lory, Terry Manahan, Teresa Morris, Ben Dexter, Beth Healy, Tom McGregor, Winston Sims

Agenda and minutes – Members approved the agenda and voted in favor to approve the April meeting minutes.

Protecting our Lakes – Discussion with members of Lake Associations
Members of three lake associations and property owners representing Chesham Pond and Russell Reservoir met with the HCC to discuss various aspects of, and concerns about, lakes and ponds in town. Topics of discussion included the associations’ organizational structures, their lake host and weed watching programs, funding by the HCC to support the latter, and VLAP water sampling.  Following are some of the highlights of the discussion:

Chesham Pond– Observing Rise in invasive species. Group discussed need to consider long-term and urgency of issue of weed-watching. Discussed drop in fish population. (State does stock Silver Lake, Skatutakee Lake and Harrisville Pond.)  Average depth has also dropped, natural result of pond filling in, increased number of plants on bottom attracting and trapping sediment.

Russell Reservoir has seen more lily pads and weeds. More sedimentation and higher bottom level likely contributing.

If invasives are spotted, first call is to DES who will intervene to help manage.

Boating activity
Silver Lake – seeing increasing activity, particularly Fridays when most attention for lake hosting is needed.  Funding from the Conservation Commission has helped with staffing and they are still looking for volunteers for a few shifts during week and on weekends. 50/50 division between non-motorized and motorized vessels, reflecting increase in kayaks and paddleboards.

Skatutakee Lake Association – Number of inspections increased from 194 in 2021 to 240/250 in 2022. Echoed that town funding very beneficial for additional staffing. Three positions are funded by NH Lakes. The SLA keeps a list of infected lakes so boaters know if they’ve come from or are going to one of these infected lakes.

For best approach to managing invasives, clean boats with cold water and dry, and run hands along the surface of the boat to check for roughness. Amy Smagula conducted plant assessment for Skatutakee. She’s a great resource at DES, as coordinator of the invasive species program. She can be reached at (603)-271-2248  amy.smagula@nh.des.gov.

Harrisville Pond Association – The HPA is currently covered for weekends but would appreciate help recruiting Lake Host staff for future years. Also looking to expand coverage for additional days. Funds from the HCC cover roughly 25% of their Lake Host budget; contributions also come through HPA dues. There is an uptick in launches from Sunset Beach, which the town wants to discourage.

Drawdowns – The state draws down annually for the state reservoir system. The list and schedule can be found through a google search of “NH lake drawdown” The schedule is different for privately-owned dams.

VLAP water sampling – Chesham Pond resident and volunteer Charlie Sorenson requested to re-establish VLAP sampling and would like to confirm with Sara Steiner that the town will fund. HCC has covered sampling for Childs bog. Following discussion, the HCC moved and voted in favor to approve funding for VLAP sampling for Chesham Pond. Friends of Russell Reservoir noted that VLAP sampling on that water body is covered by voluntary dues.

Attendees viewed a flyer on cyanobacteria and discussed ways to report sightings. They also noted helpfulness of photographing suspect weeds to identify them and discussed how to report them. Raising awareness and educating as many lake users as possible remains a constant and critical goal for maintaining water quality. The state publishes helpful resource material.

Representatives offered insights on how they got their lake associations and lake groups started and stressed the benefits of establishing a means to communicate and stay in touch about goings on around their water bodies. Friends of Russell Reservoir offered to share their bylaws.

Rain Garden Party – The HCC has rescheduled its Rain Garden Party at the Harrisville Pond Boat Ramp to Saturday, June 3, from 10 to noon.

Recycling – Foam and plastics – Harry Wolhandler shared that the collected Styrofoam was taken up to the collection facility in Gilford, NH.  About 25 pounds were collected from our Recycle Center. HCC discussed potential regional effort, possibly to consolidate collection, and/or purchase a densifier. The chair will discuss with Recycle Center Committee volunteers.

2023 Lakes Congress, Meredith, NH, Friday, June 2 – Fees are roughly $80/pp and are paid by the HCC. 

Conservation Habitat Stewardship Series Brochures from UNH Cooperative Extension – HCC will review to identify what’s most applicable for this area for handout materials for Old Home Days and placement at Town Hall.

Reports on actions of other town committees and environmental groups

-Planning Board – Master Plan work continues.

-ZBA – Reviewing application for expansion in lakeside district

-Hazard Mitigation Plan – Final report of the updated plan was approved on Tuesday. SWRPC is making final edits, after which the town will review and it will be made available to the public.

-Trails Group – Meeting Saturday, May 13, at 9 am at town hall for spring clean-up work from Seaver Road to Hancock Road along the rail trail.

-Historic Harrisville – All expressed kudos for the terrific film shown at the incorporators meeting and now available on the HHI website.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.