Vassalboro Conservation Commission 10/20/2020 meeting

Present (at town office) : Steve Jones, Holly Weidner, Patricia King , Christopher French, Betsy Poulin; (on Zoom) David Jenney

1) Review of where we have been over the past 13 years:

Holly reviewed highlights from the Conservation Commission ordinance 2008:

Some of the Initial groups that VCC met or worked with including members who were leads in the work:

Maine Rivers Initiative ( David J and Paul M), Kennebec Land Trust (Holly) , Land for Maine’s Futures (Mary Ellen Johnston) , State Conservation Commission, Natural Resource Council Services ( maps) , Kennebec S&W Cons.Dist., Farm Service Agency ( Lauchlin) , China Lakes Alliance.

Initial work: Developed subcommittee on Trails; develop web communication system among town committees/citizens; meet with some of the above partner groups; reviewed the Maine Wildlife Habitat maps to locate open spaces and natural resources; Also met with planning board to work on open space and other new ordinances as well as to comment on applications for development that may affect natural resources. We identified town forest land and had the forest plan reviewed. Betsy is on the Planning Board now and is our liaison.

VCC Minutes are available on the Town Web site; The Trail committee didn’t keep minutes except during a few years of their work.

The Trail subcommittee identified current and old public trails, developed pamphlet for the town website of current trails, built a new trail on the Town Forest property, developed a town wide roadside pedestrian and bike plan that was approved by town and worked with DOT for funding. The Trail committee was laid down by the VCC about 4 years ago and was restarted by the selectmen this spring as a separate committee of the town . Holly remains on the Trail committee and is the liaison to the VCC .

2) What are members of this committee most interested in working on this year?

Preservation of farmland and open space: Could we be more of a resource for people who want to preserve their farmland/open space? Provide education to the community about what is out there for protecting their property as open space/farm /forest. Discussion included that most owners have already made plans for what will happen to their property; most land owners wouldn’t want to open up discussion of their private business to town officials or committee; often the best way to open up ideas on land preservation is to get the word out of examples in our community of what people have done already.

Action: 1) gather info on what land is out there already in Farm Forever, Farmland Trust or other forms of preservation. (VCC already has the list of lands preserved under Kennebec Land Trust and NE Wildflower Garden -whose name has changed).
2) consider in the future if and how to share this info more widely.
3) Discuss further if there are ways that VCC can be more proactive about preserving properties that are headed to the market.

Diverging Food waste/ Composting options at our transfer station ; There was much discussion about past, present and possible alternative solutions to the problem that up to 40% of our trash tonnage is in compostable materials. Other towns have systems to compost , some private/public partnerships, some resell the product back to town people.

Action: Christopher and Betsy will work on finding more information about what other towns are doing re: composting, what are economical ways of providing this service ; They will check with 3 town officials /staff involved with our trash disposal to understand what the present situation is and to be sure that any new renovations to the Transfer station would be flexible enough to accommodate for future recycling options: Mary Sabin –town manager, John Melrose-selectman and George Hammer –Transfer station staff;

3) Update on Trail Comm: the Town Forest Trail had more work done on it and is very walkable with new culverts, chips and bridging. They are working on a fishing pier near the China Lake outlet stream . This concept was approved by the selectpeople.

4) There was a report of discovery that a small spring fed pond with native brook trout had been excavated and covered. This led to some last minute reevaluation by town and Maine IF&W. No action is needed on our part other than to keep an eye on this.

5) Next VCC meeting will be December 10th 6:30 pm. We will have to do it by ZOOM because it is a selectman meeting unless we can arrange the use of N. Vassalboro Fire station. Watch for notices .

Respectfully submitted, Holly Weidner