Vassalboro Conservation Commission
October 16, 2007
Commission meeting was held at the town office at 7:00 pm.
Present were Holly Weidner, Paul Mitnik, David Jenney, Mary Ellen Johnston, Don Robbins, John Melrose. Absent were Charlie Hartman, Steve Jones, Chad Arms, and Laughlin Titus.
Guests for the meeting were Theresa Kirschner, Kennebec Land Trust and Jerry Bley, Land Use Consultant.
After introductions, we asked Theresa and Jerry to talk about their work in communities and on conservation commissions. We also briefly discussed the Commission’s structure and un-official status.
Some of the advice and suggested activities for our VCC follows.
1. The VCC needs to build credibility with the Town of Vassalboro. Since we are not an official Commission yet and we are still getting organized and have no projects yet, it is a good time to build relationships, especially with the Planning Board. It was also suggested that we spend some time with the Selectmen to begin working towards this goal.
2. Communications: This is essential if we are to become known and respected for the work spelled out by the Strategic Plan. A newsletter or some form of publicity was suggested. The town of Wayne has one that is part of the Methodist Church’s newsletter. We have tried using the town web site and David Jenney has set up a free web forum where we can log in and see the meeting minutes. We are not sure that many people will use this, and we need some other way to communicate with the citizens of Vassalboro. We could also co-sponsor events, information meetings, and forums for discussing conservation issues to get more people engaged. We plan to develop a brochure with information for property owners about tools for conserving and protecting their lands. We do not have a budget to do these things, however, and will need to raise some money somehow.
4.Speakers; We should continue to invite people to our meetings and have special events for the community to learn about techniques used to protect natural resources, and
find out what other towns are doing. The KLT is active in Vassalboro, and we can build support for additional projects through these informational gatherings.
5. Inventory of open space and high priority areas. This would be a major project itself, but a very important one for the town of Vassalboro. We can begin with a few steps: Research old town roads for public access. Review tax liens on land to see if it is land the town would want to hold. Review Habitat maps for parcels with best potential for conservation, trails, or corridors for wildlife. Inventory all the working farms in town and contact owners.
6. Funding: Apply for grants to get funds for basic handouts, newsletter publication, events sponsorship, research, and other activities.
Other items discussed:
Work with the DEP and the Army Corp of Engineers as partners to do conservation, particularly with wetlands.
Review these ideas at the next meeting (November 13th.) and set some priorities. Get a story written for the TownLine. Anyone wish to do this?
Attend Planning Board meetings to become familiar with their work and be ready to recognize opportunities to partner. Tell them about our work so they can use us as a resource.
Kennebec River Initiative, Paul will continue to work with the Kennebec Soil and Water District.
Outlet Stream: Charlie Hartman, Don Robbins and Paul Mitnik should work together to review the process now in place for the town to raise or lower the lake level.
A new project may be coming forward, and we will work with the KLT and the Maine Farmland Trust to see what the town can do.
Work with the Trails Committee when possible, since their efforts may involve protected lands or parcels that would be good candidates for protection.
The November meeting will be held on the 13th in the firehouse at 7PM.
Mary Ellen Johnston