Conservation Commission urges support for article 14

To the Editor:

In the forthcoming Milford town vote on March 10, the town’s Conservation Commission requests the authorization of the town residents for warrant article 14.

Article 14 is for the appropriation of $20,000 for the Land Fund, a cost of only $3.30 (i.e. the cost of large coffee at Starbucks) to a Milford household of average property value.

The Land Fund is a ‘rolling’ fund i.e. monies accumulate from year to year (unless spent). The fund currently stands at $32,000. This sum is inadequate to that reasonably required to execute land and easement purchases.

The failure to be able to protect land from development can result in significant loss of land of high conservation value. A case in point is a 92 acre parcel on the edge of town bordering Mile Slip Road and Boynton Hill Road. This came up for sale in late 2012. The commission had long identified this parcel for strategic acquisition. It is of high value for wildlife conservation, being part of a large undeveloped tract, and also for water quality, providing the headwaters of Great Brook. While this large parcel sold for only $73,000, the Land Fund at the time stood at a woeful $22,000. While the commission was able to enlist the help of a major conservation group to help in the purchase, it could not win this auction.

That parcel is now part of a development in the final stages of planning approval for 52 residential lots.

The Land Fund has, over many years, helped protect in excess of 1,000 acres of land in the town for landscape value, natural conservation and public recreation, either through purchase or through conservation easements. Trails have been maintained and improved, and outreach conducted to encourage residents to take advantage of this free leisure resource.

The Conservation Commission hope that the townspeople would agree that a few dollars per household is a small price to pay to advance preservation of land of high conservation value in the town, and we ask for your support by voting yes for article 14.

Milford Conservation Commission