The Fayston Conservation Commission is in year one of a two-year process of creating a management plan for the 93-acre Boyce Hill Town Forest and has been fielding requests from some town residents to mow the parcel so that it can be used for snowshoeing and skiing.
Conservation commission member Lisa Koitzsch updated the select board on the lobbying as well as commission plans at this week’s May 12 select board meeting.
She told the select board that the commission had responded to the requests to have the parcel mowed, notifying them that while they appreciated their input, greater public input would be sought in the second year of the process to develop a management plan.
“To reiterate, it’s a two-year process with the first year focusing on education and learning about the property. The second year is the time for public input into the process and we want to hear from everybody. We appreciate their concerns, Koitzsch said.
She told the board that the commissioners will meet with a few of those people on site in June to assess whether there is anything that can be done this year, while trying to respect the two-year process that is underway.
“Right now we’re trying to do the natural resources inventory and set up a larger steering committee. The commission has been working on the road and parking lot as well,” she said.
Select board member Chuck Martel noted that the town needs authorization from the Vermont Land Trust before any work on the parcel is done, with the exception of work that is done on the town road leading to the parcel or in the town right of way.
The 93-acre parcel was donated to the town by Christina Castegren and the town conserved it through the Vermont Land Trust.
Rising from the end of Boyce Hill Road, the mostly open land has a summit with views of the Shepard Brook valley in Fayston as well as the Northfield Range and Green Mountains.
Select board member Mike Jordan asked about offers from town residents to raise funds for maintenance of the town forest and Koitzsch said that needed further discussion.
TILTED THE PROCESS
“Once you let a small, private group of people fundraise for something, you’ve tilted the process and made it not fair for everyone. Once we go through the process and determine that there is going to be mowing up there, then, yes, it’s reasonable to follow up on that. But right now we haven’t heard from all groups yet,” she said.
Select board chair Jared Cadwell said that while he appreciated the process of getting a management plan articulated before there is any major brush cutting on the land, he felt it was important to maintain the path up to the top of the parcel.
“I do think we can find a way to take a minimalist approach just to maintain the access and then let’s see where the management plan takes us,” Cadwell said, noting that the town has the equipment to mow the path and an area for gathering at the top of the parcel.
Koitzsch agreed that those areas should be maintained. She will report back to the select board after meeting with people on site in June.