Conservation Commission Annual Report – 2013
2013 was a busy year for the Commission. Although our activities are outlined here, more detail may be found at our new website, chesterfieldoutdoors.com. Many thanks to Commissioner Jeff Newcomer for his willingness to produce a website that is quite accessible to commission members, several of whom are technological neophytes!
Friedsam Town Forest, managed by the Commission, was the site of several interesting developments. With its five miles of trails, and three parking lots, “Friedsam” is a popular destination for local hikers and dog walkers. Perhaps the biggest news was the official designation of our aged red oak on the Ancient Oaks Trail as the largest red oak in the county. And at roughly 325 years, it is also the oldest living thing in Chesterfield! Our trail adopters have been very busy in Friedsam and hopefully our hikers have noticed improved trail conditions and signage. There are now two benches along trails in Friedsam, one on Audrey’s Meander and one on the Cemetery Loop. The former was installed as part of the rejuvenation of the trail named for former teacher and current Joan’s Pantry volunteer Audrey Erickson. A small group, including Audrey, enjoyed the unveiling of “Audrey’s Bench” (constructed by trail adopter Ray Dunn).
The Conservation Commission has had constructed two kiosks, one at the Town Office and one at Chesterfield Gorge. In the spring these kiosks will be inaugurated with maps containing information about conservation land, hiking sites, and other recreational opportunities in town. These were purchased primarily with funds from a Quabbin to Cardigan grant obtained by Commissioner Lynne Borofsky.
The Conservation Commission serves as informal manager for the Madame Sherri Forest, which is owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (“The Forest Society”). Both the castle and the hiking trail system, accessible from the parking lot, are very popular as a destination site for hikers, history buffs, ghost hunters, wedding participants and film makers. An example of the latter is the film Northern Borders, released in 2013, which has two scenes from the Madame Sherri Castle.
Once again the Commission has partnered with the Spofford Lake Association to help ensure that the high quality of the lake is maintained. An immediate potential problem is aquatic invasive plant species and we continue to contribute from the Conservation Fund to the Lake Host Program to monitor and prevent such invasives. In the annual expert search for such invasives by Michael Lennon of Acquatic Control Technologies, none were found! A longer run issue involving the lake is the run-off from its watershed. In 2013 Jeff Littleton of Moosewood Ecological completed a watershed inventory, financed by the Commission and the SLA. This will serve as a baseline for monitoring future run-off.
The “trail adopter” program has blossomed and an adopter (or adopters!) has been found for each of our Chesterfield trails, all 15 miles of them. We celebrated our trail adopters and other trail workers (chainsaw operators for example!) with a gathering in the fall.
Tom Duston, Chair Kathy Thatcher
Steve Hardy Pam Walton