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The Valley Reporter
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Public input sought on town-owned properties in Warren

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01/17/2008

The Town of Warren owns three parcels of land on which public input is needed. The Warren Conservation Commission is hosting a public forum to seek input on management plans for three parcels on Thursday, February 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. The forum will take place at the Warren School. Dinner will be provided during the meeting. 

The parcels that will be discussed are the 104-acre Eaton Forest behind the Warren Elementary School; the 78-acre Austin Forest/Gravel Pit parcel, also in the village on the west side of Route 100; and the approximately five-acre Riverside Park.

The Conservation Commission was asked to develop management plans for these parcels by the select board, as up to this point none of Warren's town-owned parcels has had plans to guide their management and stewardship. The conservation commission hired consultant Robert J. Turner to develop management plans. Turner will be facilitating the public meeting.

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Warren residents have an opportunity to help decide how these town-owned lands are used and maintained. The three parcels are very different with varied proposed management goals and activities.

"By attending this public forum, participants will be able to weigh in on potential future uses and management decisions and thereby be actively involved in stewarding these common lands," said commission spokesperson Tara Hamilton.

The Eaton Forest is located east and north of the Warren School and Brooks Field. It was purchased by the town in the 1980s when a proposal was presented to develop it. It currently hosts the southern terminus of the Mad River Path and is used by the school and summer camps for various environmental education activities. It has a number of interesting and fragile natural features such as stands of large oak and maple trees, rocky outcrops and cliffs, wetlands and deep hemlock stands, a key element for deer wintering yards. Proposals for uses include recreation trails, improved wildlife habitat, more educational opportunities, and housing options, possibly along some of the road frontage of the parcel.

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The Austin parcel is uphill of the western intersection of West Hill Road and Route 100 in Warren Village. Bradley Brook runs along its northern boundary. The eastern third of it is used as a gravel and sand storage site for the town of Warren. When logged about seven years ago, the skid roads were laid out in anticipation of the possibility of using them as recreation trails. The property has deed restrictions on it that restrict use to recreation, logging, gravel extraction and storage, and water storage. Proposed uses include recreation trails, hunting, continued timber management and gravel storage until an alternative town garage and storage site is secured.

Riverside Park was acquired by the town after the 1998 flood using FEMA funds to help with the purchase. It is well used by the community for all kinds of low-impact recreation activities and also fulfills (or can) a number of key riparian functions. Among these are that the river can utilize its natural floodplain here when it needs to, spreading over the open field during high-water events; there are several stands of an unusual floodplain forest: and, once replanted, the riparian buffer along the streambank can help to stabilize the river along this stretch and maintain and improve river-related habitat. Proposed uses include continued low-impact recreation and more proactive enhancement of the area's riparian functions.

Information on the parcels and about the forum will be available on the town's web site at warrenvt.org in the coming weeks.

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