Vassalboro Conservation Commission, Thursday, July 15, Town office

Present: Peggy Horner, Holly Weidner, Steve Jones, Helen Cates Devoe

Absent: Betsy Poulin, David Jenney

Guest presenter: John Melrose: re: Kennebec Land Trust acquisition of parcel
John is one of the volunteer stewards for the Vassalboro Wildlife Habitat property, VWH, a 334 acre property mostly located on Webber Pond Road near the dam. He is helping KLT raise funds to purchase the parcel to add to that land. He updated the VCC about this new initiative and asked VCC for support and consider requesting some financial support from the town to contribute toward the acquisition and/or stewardship of this property.

Background: KLT manages 4 land properties in Vassalboro. The volunteer stewards to these parcels are Vassalboro citizens who work with KLT to manage the trails and property. All funding for care for these properties are born by KLT. Properties are used for hiking snowshoeing, birding and fishing and use has increased over the past year. So far there has been no funding for the programs or upkeep by the Town.

KLT is in the process of acquiring a 40+ Acre property to add to the VWH property for a total of 374 A. The parcel will include a large section of a stream that runs into 7 Mile Stream; thus preserving most of the length of this aquatic corridor from Natanis Golf Course to where it joins 7-mile stream. The importance of protecting this corridor is to provide a large contiguous parcel that will help link an important large animal corridor to the nearby Garcelon Wildlife Management Area owned by the Maine Inland and Wildlife. Public hunting and fishing will be allowed on this property.

The parcel under contract by KLT costs $30k for the land with $10k in closing costs, annual property taxes and stewardship costs in perpetuity.

Action: The VCC whole heartedly agrees that supporting KLT specifically in acquisition and maintenance of this parcel is in keeping with conserving critical wildlife habitat in perpetuity.

The VCC thanks John for his work as steward to maintain the trails on the WPWH.

Peggy Horner will work with John Melrose to develop a draft proposal for funding to present to our next VCC meeting and then to the select board.

New Business:

1) Helen Cates was approved by the select board to join the VCC. We welcome her! She has a variety of interests that she brings to the commission including organic farming, educating youth on growing their own food, and herbal remedies.

Old Business:

1) Reducing Plastic in our waste stream: (Peggy) Maine just passed an Extender Producer Responsibility Bill Recycling that will require corporations making more than $5million/year to pay for the cost of disposing of “hard to recycle “plastics that is normally born by municipalities. The Maine DEP will figure out the fee structure in 2023 and then implement it in 2024. Municipalities will receive proceeds from the fees to offset cost of disposing of plastics.

2) Monument Park: update (Holly) The fishing pier went in last month and is in daily use by all ages. Thanks to Gene Field at public works and his crew, Mary Sabin for orchestrating obtaining the used docks free of charge, and Steve and Holly for moving the project along. There are 2 picnic tables that are placed by the public works each season. It was noted that there continues to be some illegal parking along Rt. 32 despite the town clearly marking the roadside as “No Parking”. More recently 2 trucks with boat trailers backed into the Monument park to park for the day. Discussion: what is the purpose of the town park? What responsibilities does the town have for providing parking for boat trailers and trucks who desire all day parking for the state boat ramp? How can the town land be designed to provide recreation as well as parking for the historical society and for the park? How can the design promote safe passage of all along Route 32?

Action: Holly and Steve will work with Historical Society to propose town use of the park into the future and create a plan of incorporating parking, recreation, roadside safety. This will be brought back to the VCC and then to the select board. They will also evaluate some options for short term prevention of a habit of illegal parking and implement.

3) Rte. 32 Tax acquired property: update (Holly) The town has acquired the property at 435 Main Street near the Masse Mill. The property has been cleared. Mary Sabin is looking into grants to help pay for improving the property for public use. The VCC had suggested in the past using area for picnicking with access to the stream for fly fishing. As plans are made to develop this area, questions of maintenance arise, whether to have running water, whether to have a bathroom facility. Holly will continue to be in touch with Mary and to offer assistance as needed.

4) Culverts trout pond, (Steve J.) The town is awaiting the State permit to open the pond. The private owner is working with Steve and the state to try to reconcile this.

New Business:

1) Invasive program from state: to get involved or not: (David J and Steve J): The Maine Forest Service, a bureau of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will provide up to $85,000 over the next two years for local governments, municipalities, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and private family woodland owners to obtain Invasive Plant Control Practice Plans (IPCPP) for their woods. There was not much interest in this program if the funding is small for the amount of work to apply for the program.

2) What are priorities or focus this year? ( everyone)

Peggy: will be concentrating on reducing plastics in our waste stream;
We as a CC will be monitoring ways to encourage recycling and work with Transfer station.
Steve: Will work on keeping our landscapes, gardens and byways in good natural order.
We as a CC will be working with Planning comm. to watch new developments, solar farms, and land use changes for concerns on conservation.
Helen: Will work with the VCS on creating opportunities for children to have hands on learning about food gardens.
Holly: will continue work on parks; also work in conjunction with CRLA on lake water quality; also has an interest in control of invasives: plants, insects.

Other Possibilities: Consider best ways to inform and educate the public. We need another member of the CC, particularly someone with an interest in water quality (drinking water, vernal pools, streams and lakes).

Next Meeting: August 12th, Thursday 6:30 pm; location TBA