Officials concerned about wetlands
LYNDEBOROUGH – Wetlands are being disturbed by logging operations, and apparently not much is being done to prevent it.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, the selectmen and the Conservation Commission met with Jennifer Czysz, assistant director of Nashua Regional Planning Commission, to discuss concerns about local wetlands. The discussion lasted more than an hour and will be continued in January.
"Logging operations have destroyed land, and there are improper stream crossings," Planning Board member Bob Rogers said. "We need an appropriate buffer around wetlands. My concern is operations around streams. The brook has been opened up," which warms the water too much for native fish.
"It seems sometimes we are helpless to protect wetlands," Selectman Mark Schultz said. "How do we proceed with the least amount of money for a study?"
While it would probably cost the town too much to police every operation, one suggestion was to hire a town forester who could oversee operations on a case-by-case basis, especially if there were complaints that could be passed on to state officials.
Problems in Lyndeborough include large lots, many of which are unoccupied, and logging done during the winter, when few people are in the woods. Selectmen or other officials can’t inspect a property without landowner permission.
Logging is overseen by the state, Conservation Commission member Tom Chrisenton said.
"Towns can bring the violations to their attention," he said.
However, because the state is underfunded and undermanned, commission member Mike Decubelis said, "The state can be very slow to act."
Selectman Fred Douglas said he had documented an operation in which the logger was "put on notice, but it is sickening what was destroyed."
"The laws are on the books, and they need to be enforced," Decubelis said.
Douglas noted that when selectmen sign an intent-to-cut form, "We are concerned about how much will be cut and how much money" is involved, not the actual operation. He noted that stone walls along Class 6 roads have been destroyed.
While it was agreed that the town probably needs a wetland buffer – a defined setback from wet areas – Selectman Lee Mayhew asked why the town didn’t already have one.
"There hasn’t been a need," Chrisenton said, noting that the statewide proposal isn’t practical because towns vary so much in topography.
In some places, "a 100- foot buffer would prevent any building," he said, adding that Lyndeborough has "the average amount of wetlands, 15 percent to 20 percent of the area."
Rogers noted that "about half of subdivisions have some kind of wetland," and that developers are required to define those and avoid them. State rules for septic systems also require buffers.
Czysz asked the boards to list their goals. Chief among them was quality of life. The Lyndeborough mountains are the headwaters of many streams that need to be protected.
Decubelis said Cold Brook is unique and needs to be kept cold for native fish, but added, "The town is mostly conservation minded."
It was agreed that more education is needed, for both loggers and landowners, and that perhaps classes should be introduced into local schools.
It was also agreed that forestry done properly is one of the best uses of open land. It is needed by wildlife and is the reason New Hampshire has such a diverse animal population.
"We don’t want to penalize those who are working correctly," Ginny Chrisenton said. "The bad actors don’t follow the regulations."