History of Londonderry Conservation Commission
The Vermont Statues (Titile 24, Chapter 118) authorized the creation of conservation commissions as follows:
§ 4501. Creation of conservation commissions
A conservation commission may be created at any time when a municipality votes to create one, or, if the charter of a municipality permits it, when the legislative body of the municipality votes to create one. (Added 1977, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
At the 1996 Londonderry Town Meeting Article 8 was presented “to see if the town would have a conservation commission.” The voters approved this article, and the Selectboard interviewed numerous candidates and appointed Kevin Beattie, Berthe Cowles, Gary Grout, Ellen Ogden and Robert Twitchell to Londonderry’s first Conservation Commission. The first Conservation Commission meeting was held on June 13, 1996 with Kevin Beattie as chair. This first meeting was mostly a discussion of each member’s issues. Topics discussed included trails, planting trees downtown, acquiring town forest through gifts, being a source of information on conservation matters, seeking grants, monitoring ponds and streams, the town plan, Lowell Lake purchase by the State and Class 4 roads.
Within a month, problems began with attendance, and by 2001 there were only two members remained on the Commission. Finally in early 2002 three new members came onto the Commission with the understanding that they should not participate unless they planned to attend meetings regularly. Since that time the Commission has been actively functioning in large part because of commitment by the Commissioner members.
In 1999 a Conservation Fund was started primarily to build up a financial reserve to assist in land acquisition, and to provide a mechanism for land and/or fund donations. A forester was hired with a grant from Forest & Parks to create a management plan for the town’s forestland. As a result of the forest plan, which called for management of wildlife habitat in addition to timber harvesting, a prescribed burn was done in 2003. A timber sale of over 200,000 board feet of timber was sold in 2005.
A wild apple tree release project on National Forest land in the town was started in 2001. When completed, 17 acres had been treated and about 100 apple and other important wildlife species had been released. This project took many work sessions and included the participation by the CVPS green team.
At about this same time the Commission encouraged a landowner of 285 acres to sell to the National Forest. The sale of the Taylor Farm Pond west of Flood Brook was completed in 2003 and 2004.
In 2001 the Commission started keeping track of 100-acre parcels in town. At that time there were 35. The number continues to drop, and the Commission is attempting to provide information to owners of these large parcels about realistic mechanisms to preserve their land as open space, rather than see it subdivided.
In 2002 the owners of a one-hundred-acre parcel of land offered to give it to the Town. The Conservation Fund was used to accept the land in 2004. The Shamberg land now belongs to the Town. An important feature of this land is an active heron rookery, and the Commission is taking steps to protect the rookery, as well as prepare for appropriate management of this property.
In 2004 the Commission began a study of the town’s domestic wells. It soon became apparent that we needed both updated well information and a mapping of the town’s aquifer. We hope to be able to participate in a project with the State geologist that will provide extensive information about water well and the Londonderry aquifer that feeds those wells.
2007 saw the completion of the Town wood lot management and logging project. This effort had been ongoing for several years and involved selected logging on five of the Town owned wood lots. Trees were marked for cutting on the basis of long term health of the wood lots, and a consulting forester and logging contractor were employed. The final stage of the program, namely the actual logging was completed in 2007. This logging project yielded in excess of $20,000 revenue for the Town.
In addition to its own projects, the Conservation Commission responds to requests from the Selectboard and the Planning Commission. At the request of the Selectboard, the Conservation Commission was a participant in the Glebe Wind Farm collaborative, and at the request of the Planning Commission, we have reviewed sections of town plan during its development. We have also worked with the Windham Regional Commission to develop an accurate mapping of town streams.
The Conservation Commission work is supported with a part-time administrative assistant. The Commission meets at the Town Offices on the third Thursday of each month. The Commission can be reached through the Town Clerk or via emails listed on the DIRECTORY page under the TOWN pulldown menu.