Environmental destruction masked as conservation

To the Editor:

What appears to be a generous donation of 30 acres of land to the Town of Milford’s Conservation Commission by the Melendy Country Association is in process of becoming finalized.

But is it generosity on the part of the Association or is it something else?

The fact is that the land the Association is seeking to put into conservation was being kept as open space anyway in joint ownership with the six member properties. It is apparent that the Association used the system at the local and state levels to get the house lot it wants for the generation of cash.

The 30 acre land “gift” is a change of ownership, not a change in use. And it unfortunately comes with a very high cost to two vernal pools and the wildlife that depend on them for their very existence.

The deal that unfolded between the Association and the Conservation Commission involves the approval by the CC of direct destruction of 200 square feet of vernal pools plus 3,800 square feet of the vernal pools’ buffers, which not only negatively affects water quality within the remaining vernal pools, but also the wildlife.

This ignores the basic and important fact that wetlands and vernal pools are not protected unless their buffers are protected.

The CC made the deal without the benefit of a site visit to see the vernal pools and the surrounding supportive forest. Furthermore the CC actually waived its right to intervene and comment on the Dredge & Fill application. Both of these inactions demonstrate either the CC’s lack of knowledge about or concern for the negative environmental impacts posed by the project.

But the deal between the Association and the CC does do a grave injustice to conservation of wetlands, vernal pools, and the forest where the vernal pool wildlife live.

The spotted salamanders live in holes made by mammals in the upland areas (including the buffers) that surround the pools. The wood frogs live in those woods. One must ask, how much direct and indirect harm will come to these vernal pool animals from having so much of their habitat destroyed (i.e. 200 SF of vernal pool + 3,800 SF of buffer = 4,000 SF).

Interestingly, Greg Boggis, a member of one of the families in the Association, is also an alternate member of the CC. He first raised the issue of the potential donation of land. How helpful is his CC membership in getting the deal done that serves to help his family?

In conclusion, this environmentally-

misguided land deal that involves destruction of important wetlands, wetland buffers and necessary wildlife habitat, should not happen, but if it does, and a trail is eventually built by the CC, it should be aptly named “Salamander Death Trail” in memory of those who are paying the ultimate price for this unsavory deal.

Suzanne Fournier