Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Meeting Minutes

Members present:  Harry Wolhandler, Don Scott, Ralph Zingaro, John Sandri, Kathy Scott
Members of the public: Ted Braun, Winston Sims

Agenda and minutes of previous meeting – For the agenda, Winston Sims requested to add discussion about inviting the county forester to assess dying trees in town and assess the reasons for this. The chair noted the HCC could add if time allowed. Kathy Scott moved to approve the agenda as proposed. All voted in favor.

Minutes of May 2023 meeting – All voted in favor to approve as written.

Rain Garden Planting Update – Don Scott spoke about the plants he purchased, primarily dwarf variety, for the rain garden to fill in space and fortify the existing native species.  The HCC moved to reimburse Don Scott $610.13 for purchase of native plants at Maple Hill Nursery for Rain Garden with funds to be taken from the Conservation Fund.  All voted in favor with Kathy Scott and Don Scott recusing themselves.

The HCC noted the parking area, as it settles, is taking in silt from the road, but the stone and rain garden offer two protection systems to prevent the silt from entering the pond.

Following discussion, the HCC moved to recommend that, at the rain garden parking area, the Highway Dept remove silt/top layer of silt and replace it with about 6”  of 1/2” of fresh stone. All voted in favor.

Ted Braun asked for similar assistance from the Highway Department along catch basins on Eastside Road. Kathy Scott recommended Mr. Braun submit something in writing to the Select Board.

Lake Protection – The HCC reviewed comments from the May meeting shared by lake association representatives and lakeside property owners about boating and lake activity.

Ted Braun noted that, at Silver Lake, according to data from Lake Host/weed watching program, 17% of boats came in from infected lakes.

Harry Wolhandler noted that Pam Wilder is preparing a poster on cyanobacteria, which would cost $3 each to print. Subsequently members moved to approve payment to Silver Direct to print 10 posters to place at boat ramps and around town. All voted in favor.

For contributions to the three lake associations, the HCC moved to distribute $3,000 in funds, under the HCC budget line item for invasive species management, as follows: $1,125 to Silver Lake Association, $1,125 to the Skatutakee Lake Association and $750 to the Harrisville Pond Association. All voted in favor.

Knotweed – Following discussion of small test areas for safe trial of an organic herbicide sold by Agrisel, the HCC moved to apply $503.27 from the invasive species management budget line for the purchase of an organic herbicide from Agrisel for use by Con Com to test on knotweed for eradication purposes. The HCC also will try on private property along Prospect Street.

2023 Lakes Congress – The Chair noted there was lots of discussion at the Lakes Congress on cyanobacteria and the importance of identifying and treating it early. The state was able to treat one lake which had a serious infestation over 10 years. Cyanobacteria primarily originates near boat ramps from infested boats.

Ted Braun has created foam markers for Silver Lake Association lake hosts to mark locations where potential infestations are for further investigation. He offered to share ideas with other lake associations and the town.

Mr. Braun also spoke to DES program for watershed management. The program will forgive towns up to $100,000 for steps taken to protect watersheds. Structures that have been installed need to be maintained. HCC noted the importance of continuing to protect watersheds. The Chair will contact Barbara Richter to ask if others are discussing this and if any sample plans are in the works.

The HCC voted in favor to reimburse Harry Wolhandler in the amount of $80 for attendance fee at the annual NH Lakes Congress fee.

Wetland Protection – Members returned to discussion of Article XII Wetland Ordinance and the idea of reconsidering the required 100’ buffer. Don Scott reiterated concerns that the buffer may be too limiting.   He raised the topic of “linear wetlands,” 10’ in width or less, (e.g., drainage ditches, or swales, or stream bank where water moves through land) and reducing setback requirements if the wetland value and wetland function were not adversely affected.  (A study by a wetland scientist would be required.) By state law, drainage ditches are considered wetlands.

Mr. Scott suggests changing the buffer to accommodate reasonable development, particularly where narrow linear wetlands exist on steep slopes. He believes a 25’ buffer in this instance would be adequate; otherwise a special exception from the ZBA could be sought, with the applicant furnishing a Wetland functions and values Assessment Analysis). Mr. Scott proposes that the ordinances differentiate b/t linear wetlands and larger wetlands. He will draft specific language for review by the HCC with back-up documentation. Once approved by the HCC, the commission can recommend to the Planning Board for consideration by the Ordinance Review Committee.

Concern over dying trees – The HCC discussed Ash and Hemlock diseases and the damage observed in the last year or two. Hemlock, maple and white pine are the most common species in NH and the result of the diseases could mean the forest experiences a more bare understory. The HCC will continue this topic at a future meeting.

Old Home Days – Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July 1.  For the HCC booth, members discussed showing samples of beech bark disease/tree health information, and discussed surveying residents about trees of interest . The HCC also will have on hand wetland buffer information and the poster on cyanobacteria.

Other – Ralph Zingaro offered to contact the County Forester for ideas on a tree initiative in town.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 pm.