Harrisville Conservation Commission / Joint Meeting with the Select Board
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Meeting Minutes

The Conservation Commission held a regularly scheduled meeting and joint meeting with the Select Board on Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Town Hall, 705 Chesham Road.

HCC members present: Harry Wolhandler, Ralph Zingaro, Don Scott, Andrew Maneval (for Select Board and Conservation Commission). Absent: John Sandri
Select Board present:  Andrew Maneval, Kathy Scott, Andrea Hodson
Members of the public: Barbara Watkins, Chick Colony, Ted Braun, George Colony, George Lowrey, Bonnie Lowrey, Dave Thompson, Nancy Lory, Charles Sorenson, Ben Dexter, Douglas Miller, Tina Genovese, Jackie Lyon, Pegg Monahan, Charlotte Stanley

Joint Meeting with the Select Board
The HCC and the Select Board met with representatives of the towns’ lake associations and waterfront property owners to discuss issues related to water quality, lake host programs and invasive species management.

HCC Chair Wolhandler shared general comments on Harrisville’s lakes and watersheds, noting the role of lake associations as a final step in water protection. Approximately 80% of the town’s land is in current use or conservation, which provides a natural buffer against contamination, and woodlands and wetlands also serve as natural protectors. The town’s Natural Resource Inventory is available on the town website.

Mr. Wolhandler touched on Lake Host programs and comparisons of the different lake associations’ boating traffic/activity, and invasive species saves. He noted that, by and large, boat traffic is local. Invasives spotted in the region have been identified as milfoil. Further east there is a different mix.

Silver Lake, presentation from George Colony and Ted Braun
George Colony submitted and shared a presentation about Silver Lake, with information ranging from physical characteristics, to number of property owners/taxpayers, to water quality statistics. The good water quality is believed to be largely due to conservation land on the southeastern end of the lake.  Mr. Colony noted that increased acreage on the eastern side of Eastside Road is being put in conservation. He raised the concern raised a couple of years ago that the ratio of parking spaces to lake acreage on Silver Lake is the 2nd highest in the state.

The well-staffed Lake Host program, including volunteers, the improvements to the boat landing, and the increased property owner awareness and septic upgrades are believed to be contributing to the stability of the water quality.  Silver Lake also has fewer camps and better drainage systems than in prior years.

Mr. Colony thanked the Road Agent and town for work on culverts and catch basins.

The Silver Lake Association hopes wake boat restrictions will be passed.  NH Lakes has been helpful working with the state on this and other lake matters.

2024 Lake Host Program Support
The boards also heard from representatives of Skatutakee Lake and Harrisville Pond on their weed watching programs and Lake Host programs, with Skatutakee noting they’re looking to increase the number of Lake Host volunteers.

Following additional discussion of the Lake Host programs, Harry Wolhandler moved to distribute $1150 to the Silver Lake Association, $1150 to the Skatutakee Lake Association and $750 to the Harrisville Pond Association to support lake host programs. Andrew Maneval seconded. HCC members all voted in favor.

Subsequently, the HCC moved to support the funding of VLAP water sampling for the Friends of Russell Reservoir once each year for approximately $90, and to continue funding sampling at Child’s Bog and Chesham Pond. All voted in favor.

Japanese Knotweed/Invasive Species Management
The HCC and Select Board confirmed that, on town roads, the town is authorized to remove knotweed located in the right of way.

The HCC would like to host a Community Conversation about the results of the small trials on private property that the HCC conducted and to discuss a proposal for moving forward to explain remediation options and recommendations.  The board noted that, if the HCC goes forward, treatment would occur after the fall flowering.  The HCC proposed a date of Monday, August 12, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Granite Mill.

Cyanobacteria Blooms, Reporting and Education Discussion
Mr. Wolhandler showed images of Cyanobacteria, explaining the cause of blooms, including excess nutrients and warm water temperatures. The blooms sit at the bottom of water bodies (lakes, ponds or rivers). Weed watcher and lake visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout and report any possible sightings.  The HCC is working to help educate the public.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Amelioration Efforts / Laricobious Beetle Update – Ralph Zingaro noted a donor is interested in funding the Laricobious Beetle project on a larger scale and even having a non-profit established. Mr. Zingaro, through his work with an expert in North Carolina, recommends releasing the beetles in September since they are winter feeders. Mr. Wolhandler asked for proposed budget, which Ralph will submit to the HCC. Following discussion, Andrew Maneval moved that the HCC, from its Conservation Fund, allocate up to $5K to fund the Laricobious Beetle project to fight hemlock disease. Don Scott seconded. All voted in favor.

The next HCC meeting is Tuesday, July 2, due to the 4th of July Holiday. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.