Conservation Commission Remote Meeting

Monday, February 1, 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm
Call-in virtual meeting (Go-to-Meeting)
A meeting of the Conservation Commission

Mon, Feb 1, 2021 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM (EST)

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Meeting of Conservation Commission

Members: (Quorum)

  • Remote: Andrew Young, at 7:10 PM
  • Remote: David Powicki, at 6:59 PM
  • Remote: Isaiah Robison, Chair, at 7:01 PM
  • Remote: Ralph Tiner, at 7:01 PM
  • Remote: Jono Neiger, at 6:56 PM
  • Remote: Gail Berrigan, at 7:02 PM
  • Remote: Joan Deely, at 6:56 PM

Also Present:

  • Tessa Dowling Conservation Agent (submitting minutes)
  • Mitch Mulholland
  • Mickey Marcus
  • Tom Hankinson
  • Claire Hopley
  • Brook Thomas
  • Tanya Cushman
  • Denzel Hankinson
  • Kemper Carlsen
  • Stephen Ball
  • Cheryl & Eva

See original Agenda Approved Meeting Minutes

Meeting opened: 7:01 PM

Meeting closed: 9:45 PM

  1. Meeting Preliminaries

  2. Continued Public Hearing

    • 7:56: Weed Management for Leverett Pond Notice of Intent - Friends of Leverett Pond

      General Discussion...
      Robison explains that he has asked Powicki to moderate the Leverett Pond Weed Management continued hearing because he does not have access to video and therefore cannot see who is speaking or if people are trying to speak.
      Powicki gives an overview of the goals for the agenda and explains that the Friends of Leverett Pond (FOLP) will introduce a topic, the Commission will ask questions, and then the public will have time to ask questions specific to the introduced topic.
      1) The first topic from FOLP was an update on a Leverett Pond Fish Survey. The original survey was completed in 1994. FOLP has been in touch with Brian Gallagher and Fish&Wildlife and they have agreed to conduct another survey in June or July of 2021. They will take out a shock boat and record the time as they scoop up shocked fish. After the collection the fish are identified and weighed in a shady area and then released.
      The Commission requests that FOLP ask Fish & Wildlife for a copy of the survey report and for fish management recommendations. The Public did not have any questions on this topic.
      2) The Fire Department has submitted a letter is support of management that would restore the use of the fire hydrant located near the Pond Boat Ramp, which has been blocked by silt. Dowling screen shares a sketch of the pond that shows the boat ramp, fire hydrant, and vegetation. The NOI proposes to remove some of the cattail plants and clear out the water channel near the fire hydrant in an effort to restore water-flow to the hydrant.
      The Commission discusses whether the dry fire hydrant issue should be on a separate permit and part of routine maintenance by the Highway Department, possibly with a bundled NOI. The Commission believes there are two dry fire hydrants in town.
      Mulholland explains that in past years the town has paid for the hydrorake that the FOLP brought in for weed management to clear out the silt near the fire hydrant and remove vegetation.
      The Commission will follow-up with the Highway Department on this issue. The public did not have any questions.
      3) Dowling screen shares a map of the pond with depth measurements and locations of milfoil populations. Per Mulholland, milfoil prefers to grow in 5ft of water or less. Mulholland will be submitting an excel file that details what herbicide treats were used by year in the pond to treat the milfoil populations. The boat ramp area was picked as a treatment area so that milfoil would not be chopped by boat propellers and spread more widely in the pond. The treatment areas are placed far from the dam where the water is exiting the pond. Per Mulholland, herbicide treatment did not greatly reduce milfoil populations until the use of ProcellaCOR.
      Commission members raise concerns that ProcellaCOR is a fairly new herbicide, 2017, and documents about it indicate it might not be species specific and only target milfoil. They add that the state does not see herbicide as a long term solution for invasive plants.
      Per Hankinson, ProcellaCOR has shown a high affinity for milfoil and reacts quickly at low concentrations. He has not observed impacts to other pond plant species.
      Attending members of the public comment: One has observed negative impacts to lily pads and one observed no impacts to lily pads in the southeast corner of the pond.
      Per Mulholland, lily pad tussocks are a normal part of the plant's live cycle and are not related to herbicide treatments.
      Per Hankinson, Wisconsin Natural Resources found no ProcellaCOR impacts to fish or snails or other non-target species. It does not bioaccumulate.
      Commission members request a copy of the Wisconsin Natural Resources' ProcellaCOR fact sheet and asks FOLP to add dates and source information to all submitted NOI maps.
      4) Mulholland introduces Micky Marcus from SWCA Environmental Consultants, who will provide advice on the best long term manage for Leverett Pond and assist FOLP in completing the State Environmental Impact Report. Marcus will also conduct a wildlife/habitat study of the pond, starting no earlier than mid-May 2021. The habitat assessment might also inform a future NOI pond drawdown application.
      The Commission recommends that FOLP and Marcus look at the pond management practices across MA.
      The Commission asks what is the extent the NOI might be changed in response to the habitat study?
      Per Marcus, the NOI might be amended. There will likely be new data and maps.
      The Commission requests that FOLP clarify the balance between recreation and ecological restoration goals for the pond.
      The Commission is interested to see how other towns have protected native plants when using herbicides. Marcus agrees to share information on other towns who have used ProcellaCOR to treat invasive plants and prevent eutrophication in the state. He can create a list of pros and cons.
      The Commission asks if the habitat study will assess wildlife?
      Per Marcus, the habitat study will not include fish or macro-invertebrates, but will focus on other wildlife.
      Per Hankinson, USDA has provided information on how milfoil can alter predator-prey relationships in the pond, cause food shortages for fish, and decrease the dissolved oxygen in the water.
      The Commission and FOLP discuss how to hear more from the community about the project. Mulholland has recently sent a management plan to the Commission that Dowling can put on the town website. FOLP will discuss whether they will hold an open house to talk about the weed management project.
      A public comment states that Leverett Connects may not be the best venue for discussing the project.
      Public comments support Marcus's involvement as a consultant on the project and express an interest in seeing more data about the pond's ecology.
      Robison requests that FOLP and Marcus provide the Commission with time to review revised plans and any new study reports in advance of the meeting.
      The Commission supports the request by FOLP to continue the hearing to after winter is over and there are more details on the fish and habitat surveys.

      MOTION, moved by David Powicki, seconded by Gail Berrigan: to continue the Leverett Pond Weed Management NOI (DEP file # 200-0196) hearing to May 3, 2021.

      Pass: Aye: Isaiah Robison, David Powicki, Gail Berrigan, Jono Neiger, Joan Deely. Nay: Ralph Tiner. Not Present: Andrew Young.

  3. Administrative Matters

    • 7:07: 24 Putney Rd Enforcement Order Restoration Plan

      General Discussion...
      Robison explains that the main issue around the tree cutting at 24 Putney Rd is that the work was not permitted by the Conservation Commission; the work was in the buffer zone so did not have direct wetland impacts and erosion control was used.
      The landowners had submitted a description of what they would do in terms of restoration via email, but the Commission requested a detailed site plan that would include the following information:
      - label where trees and vegetation will be planted in relation to the house, property lines, and where trees were cut down
      - location of erosion control
      - a specific plant list, ideally using native plants

      Dowling will email this new information to the landowners.

      The landowners plan to consult with an expert to determine what plant species they should use on the property and where they should be planted, particularly as the property has a lot of shade, so they are requesting more time to submit a restoration site plan to the Commission. They explain that they are planning to plant flowering trees on the south side of the property. Deciduous trees and 15 year old firebush shrubs remain on site. They will present a plant wish list to an expert and ask for advice on whether the plants are appropriate choices for the property.

      MOTION, moved by Isaiah Robison, seconded by Gail Berrigan: to extend the deadline for the 24 Putney Rd restoration plan to be presented to the Conservation Commission to the May 3, 2021 meeting.

      Pass: Aye: Isaiah Robison, David Powicki, Ralph Tiner, Andrew Young, Gail Berrigan, Jono Neiger, Joan Deely.

    • 7:29: Gift to Conservation Commission- how can it be used?

      General Discussion...
      Dowling has learned that the gift to the Leverett Conservation Commission from the estate of John R. Vansteenberg is equal to $91, 240.00. The estate gift document explains that the use of the gift is as the discretion of the Commission to "preserve the natural beauty of the town".
      Powicki asks that the document is saved on the Commission's Google Drive.
      The Commission discusses using the gift to purchase and conserve a new property in town.
      Possible suggestions include a property along Rt 63 that contains forests and wetlands and is adjacent to Mt Toby conservation land, or land on the Pond to increase public access. Robison mentions that Cowls owns land at the northern end of the Pond and suggests the Commission talk to Kestrel Land Trust to learn what properties are available that are important to conserve. Berrigan agrees to talk to Kestrel Land Trust about land that they would prioritize for protection in Leverett.
      Commissioners also raise the possibility of protecting land with structures for barn swallows.
      Public comment recommends using the funds to help steward land that the town has already conserved. Robison agrees that an alternative use of the gift would be to help maintain conservation area trail networks . The Commission will continue to discuss the best use for the gift at future meetings. Dowling will help consolidate ideas that are generated.

    • 7:49: Input on town projects DLTA Town Community compact projects

      General Discussion...
      Dowling explains that the Town Administrator is looking for town board input on what projects to propose for community compact project grants. Powicki recommends the Town Administrator refer to the town Open Space and Recreation Plan.

    • 7:55: Review Annual Report

      General Discussion...
      Dowling has submitted the Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report to the Commission. The review of the Report is moved to a future meeting.

  4. Old Business

    • Bill Rivers Management and DCR Monitoring Visit follow-up

      General Discussion...
      This agenda item was moved to a future meeting.

    • Commission Chair Discussion/Commission Membership

      General Discussion...
      This agenda item was moved to a future meeting.

  5. New Business

  6. Other New Business not considered as of the date of this notice

  7. Meeting Wrap-up

    • Next Meetings:
      1. Mon, Mar 1, at 7:00 PM "Conservation Commission Remote Meeting" -- Call-in virtual meeting (Go-to-Meeting)
      2. Mon, Apr 5, at 7:00 PM "Conservation Commission Remote Meeting" -- Call-in virtual meeting (Go-to-Meeting)
      3. Mon, Apr 19, at 7:00 PM "Conservation Commission Remote Meeting" -- Call-in virtual meeting (Go-to-Meeting)
      4. Mon, May 3, at 7:00 PM "Conservation Commission Remote Meeting" -- Call-in virtual meeting (Go-to-Meeting)
    • Published! Meeting Closed at 9:45 PM.

The listing of matters is those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law.

Minutes approved on Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

Posted to: Conservation Commission