Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Environmental Make Good

Representative from W.D. Cowls and Landmark Properties appear before ConComm

Amherst Conservation Commission

A half dozen employees representing the interests of the current landowner, W.D. Cowls, and the buyer/developer, Landmark Properties, who wish to build a student housing project on 147 acres of woodland in North Amherst came before the  Conservation Commission again to explain how damage occurred to wetlands and how they will ensure it does not happen again.

W.D. Cowls, the largest private landowner in the state, has always allowed the general public to use the property for recreation.  And mountain bikes, all terrain vehicles and jeeps can leave behind ruts which the commission considers unacceptable in protected wetlands.

Cowls may reconsider keeping the property open to the general public and could install gates or cables at the three main entry points to keep out motorized vehicles.

Conservation members site visit to damaged area 6/25

But much of the (self reported) damage was caused by a contractor doing geo-technical drilling for the proposed buyer of the property, Landmark Properties.  Commission member Christiane Healey said, "I'm perplexed.  Don't you have experience with this?"

"We don't do this very often," responded the contractor, Mike Talbot.  "In my 30 years this if the first time doing work around wetlands on such a large tract of property.  We crossed wetlands to get to drilling sites.  We thought using logging roads was okay."

Talbot said from now on "wetlands" had been added to their job sheet checklists for awareness and a wetlands expert or land engineer would be consulted before any work took place in sensitive areas.

The "Preliminary Restoration Plan" was pronounced "thorough" by town wetlands administrator Beth Willson, but she preferred all restoration work be done by hand rather than mechanized equipment -- especially considering it was mechanized equipment that caused the damage in the first place.

The commission agreed and made that a part of their requirements as well as a paragraph about maintaining communication with the Conservation Commission and obtaining permits anytime work is performed in and around wetlands.

 About 25 concerned neighbors show up

The environmental consultants will return to the  July 23rd meeting with a final Restoration Plan and begin the work (by hand) immediately after approval by the Conservation Commission.

 Vince O'Connor worried about Fire Department access in case of a forest fire


Anonymous said...

Oh boy look at that sad group. Looks like a scene from the mental ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Only in Amherst do people seriously think they are saving the planet down to every blade of grass.

Dr. Ed said...

Ummm, have any of these people ever seen a "skidder"? Do they have any concept of what a "logging road" is or what it is used for?

The "environmental damage" was putting the logging road in back when that was done.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but this kind of nit picking ridiculous stuff makes the school system look pretty normal.

The site is going to be built upon. Things will be disturbed. In the end it will get cleaned up. The people who find this important need to go out and get a life.

Go help some kids in the inner city. Go start a solar farm. Go buy your own tract of land and plant lots of trees. Just about anything else is more productive.

Thees people worrying about ruts in the road look like crazy people concerned with everyone else's business.

It is to bad Cinda cares so much about conservation, otherwise she could just pave over all her land to send a proper @*#& you to all these crazy people wasting everyone's time.

Anonymous said...

Logging in wet lands is supposed to be done in the winter when the ground is frozen! Duuu! So you don't Fu#$ up the land.
They drove that boring machine up the Robert Frost trail in the spring when the Ground was the wettest. Gouging deep into mother earth!
Now I can't ride my mountain bike up that section of the Robert Frost trail any more. I had to walk it up. Bummer..:(

Local mountain biker...

Anonymous said...

How about some pictures of something showing some damage. A rut in the mud cannot be what so many people are meeting about. Imagine if someone had the charisma to convince that many people to get together to do good in stead of whatever they are getting together to do in the pictures. I made more of a mess in town this weekend in a mudhole with my 4 wheeler.

Anonymous said...

Doing things for other people is not as much fun as stopping people from what they have planned.

There's a thrill of victory that you don't get from simply giving of yourself to others.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all that's needed is a Larry Shaffer EcoBlast?

Anonymous said...

"Now I can't ride my mountain bike up that section of the Robert Frost trail any more."

Guess you'll have an even tougher tie when it's someones driveway.

Dr. Ed said...

Now I can't ride my mountain bike up that section of the Robert Frost trail any more. I had to walk it up. Bummer..:(

In terms of environmental damage to a sensitive ecosystem, the ongoing repeated travel of many mountain bikes will do more cumulative damage than the more spectacular one-time damage of a heavy tracked vehicle.

Nature doesn't care if there are ruts in the ground, tree roots will grow to the topography of the land, and as the disturbed soil is also tilled, there is an opportunity for various "pioneer plants" to start growing -- not only is the grown quickly covered but diversity is added to the ecosystem.

(Heck, there's an entire railroad abandoned in the Alagash, complete with two large steam locomotives still on the tracks, and most folk don't even know it is there.)

But when you repeatedly run a mountain bike through a sensitive ecosystem, you are packing down the soil so that nothing can grow in it. You are killing the just-hatched seedlings and leaving bare soil that is subject to erosion. Ever notice how mountain bikes tend to have "knobby" tires -- they are designed to dig into the soil so as to both propel the bicycle up a hill and help the rider maintain control -- a lesser version of the "knobby" tires used by off-road motorcycles, and the damage those do is quite visible.

Ever walk through the woods and notice the "spongy" feel of the forest floor? One person walking through the woods once isn't going to do significant environmental damage -- but a lot of people stepping on the same piece of land will!

On the NorthWest side of the UM Tower Library there is a tree that was donated many years ago by some Japanese diplomat, and for years there was a sign asking students not to take a popular shortcut across the roots because they were killing the tree by doing this.

Something to think about when you seek to crucify Cindia & Co for doing less damage to her land than you are doing to it!?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Erectile Dysfunction probably does not ride a bike. Never mind a mountain bike. "Numb Nuts" LOL ;)

Properly built mountain bike trails have switch backs and water bars to prevent erosion. Not riding in the wet and walking your bike over wet spots is proper trail etiquette. That’s what I did on that section because of all the damage.
Maybe you should volunteer to do some trail work for NIMBA and learn something.
Driving a mini tank straight up a wet fall line is not compatible to mountain biking up a major hiking trail that is already packed down from years of use.
Cinda did not drive that machine, some yahoo contractor did. She should sue his ass!
I don’t care if the Retreat gets built or not. I do care about the Robert Frost trail
PS. I hate Quads. "Trail Destroyers"
Local mountain biker….
#viva la tour!
#Robert Frost Trail
# Metacomet Monadnock Trail

Anonymous said...

Is there a limit to the range of topics that Ed can expound on at length using boldface?

Ed is.....the most interesting man in the world.

"Stay angry, my friends"

Dr. Ed said...

Ruts on a logging road are not what I consider to be environmental damage. Now as to having all your storm drains dump into a nearby stream (as is the case in Lincoln Apartments), well, ummm, yes.

And as to only logging in the wintertime -- first, the ground's not always frozen in the winter, and sometimes there is a lot of this global warming stuff on it as well.

Not that facts seem to matter anymore.

Above and beyond that, loggers depend upon year round work -- kinda like you do -- and they'd go into some other business if they couldn't work 3/4 of the year.