It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. The Conservation Committee has completed many achievements this past year. Our committee is comprised of volunteers that are appointed by the selectmen. According to state law, it is our responsibility to protect the natural resources of the town. Our membership is made up of six regular members, three alternates, and one Selectmen Ex-Officio representative. It is because of their positive energy and innovative ideas that we have continued to protect our natural resources. Our members have a wide range of knowledge concerning wildlife, vegetation, shoreline and wet soil issues and are not afraid to think out of the box to accomplish the tasks we are presented with.
The Conservation Committee has the important assignment concerning the proper utilization and protection of the natural resources and protection of watershed resources, including but not limited to shoreline protection, wet soil issues, site walks (when responding to citizen concerns), and endangered species protection. We continue to work with the State Wetland Bureau concerning any issues in our town as well as our input on all dredge & fill permit applications. The Scenic Roads in town also come under the charge of this Commission, as described in RSA 231:157 and RSA 231:158. The list of Scenic Roads are, Gale Village Road, Currierville Road, Maple Avenue, Goulds Hill Road, Heath Street, Bartlett Street and Thornell Road. The various boards in our town continue to keep us informed on issues and permits that come before them. We enjoy the good working relationship with all the town boards and committees.
One of our accomplishments this year has been under the direction of conservation vice chairperson, Alicia Raddatz. In May of 2005, we hosted our first identification process of bio monitoring of wet soil areas on the Busch Farm, and invited residents (adults and children) to get involved. It was a great success. We will expand this to other areas in town. Our goal is to include students from Memorial School, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts in our next bio-monitoring event. We invite participation by all, and guarantee that it will be a fabulous learning experience, (and fun for all ages).
Members of the conservation commission were able to participate in the 2005 Law Lecture Series. This series included three lectures: 1. Off-Site Exactions and Impact Fees, 2. Ethics for Lane Use Board Members, 3. Land Use Regulation. Our members continue to attend informative and education meetings, when ever possible.
The Conservation Commission was invited to participate in a local community event that was sponsored by the School Nurses in the Town of Newton and Town of Kingston. The purpose of this event was to educate our youth in health, nutrition and exercise. Our committee was able to provide a slide show of Newton Conservation and Recreation Land. We supplied town maps showing conservation land that would be great for hiking, cross-country skiing, exercising your dogs, bird watching, wildlife observation or just a simple picnic. The public is encouraged to use and enjoy this open space. One of our largest parcels is the Busch Farm that has over 47 acres to explore. This area is open to the public and includes off street parking. The easiest access is from Rte 108 (north of New Boston Road), on the right side by the pipe gate. We are working on getting a sign at the entrance.
Of course we are very proud of the conservation easement on Hidden Acres Farm, located on Thornell Road. As a result of years of hard work by current and past conservation committee members, selectmen, and the landowner Forrest Reynolds, this easement was the conclusion of our application to the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, (LCHIP). One of the requirements of this program was the formation of the Stewardship Committee. This committee was appointed by the Selectmen and is comprised of five members that remain on the committee with staggering terms as follows: Mary Marshall-Chairperson expires in 2006, Nancy Slombo-Vice Chair expires in 2007, Mike Seacamp-Treasure expires in 2008, Trisha McCarthy-Secretary expires in 2009, and Pat Wonson who expires in 2010. This is a wonderful piece of Newton History that we have the ability to protect. We continue to work with the homeowner, (Mr. Reynolds) and monitor the easement and activity on it.
On a sad note, the Conservation Commission lost a very long time member Steve Cushing. Steve retired from the commission earlier this year. He is an enormous loss to the commission. His knowledge and expertise is greatly missed. Steve was instrumental in many of the accomplishments of protecting our natural resources, including but not limited to the acquisition of the Busch Farm and the Hidden Acre Easement. He volunteered his time, tools, equipment and vehicles, without hesitation. The immeasurable energy he had overflowed onto the rest of the commission, making us a spectacular team. Of course we realize, that life goes on, (even after you leave the conservation commission), and we sincerely wish him the best that life can offer.
This committee meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month. The meetings are held in the rear of the Town Hall at 7:30pm. All meetings are open to the public, and we encourage anyone that is interested to attend. Feel free to log onto to the town web site for access to minutes of our meetings.
We look forward to another prosperous year, and encourage your input.
Trisha McCarthy, Chairperson