Oct 162021
 

Brookfield Conservation Commission Meeting Agenda     

October 18, 2021

7:00 Act 171: Selecting Forest Blocks & Habitat Connectors for Your Town Plan webinar by Jens Hilke – preregister for this webinar https://www.eventbrite.com/e/act-171-selecting-forest-blocks-habitat-connectors-for-your-town-plan-tickets-160561416519

8:00 Regular meeting via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83786366190?pwd=dVg1RTFxekNOYXZRNUFsTXdFdThUZz09

1. Review Agenda

2. Public Comment

3. Approval of Minutes of the September meeting

4. Town Forest Hike – 10/17

5. Forest Blocks and Habitat Connectors in Brookfield

6. Other business

7. Adjourn – next meeting is November 15, 2021

Jun 242021
 

Meeting Minutes
Brookfield Conservation Commission  6/21/21
 
Present: Jon Binhammer, Kathy Kinter, Starr Strong, Susan Shea
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 P.M. at the Brookfield Library.
Minutes of the 5/17/21 meeting were approved.
Public Comment: No members of the public were in attendance.
Forest Blocks
Continuing its discussion on how to minimize forest fragmentation, the Commission discussed  recommendations by Kevin Geiger and Pete Fellows of Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission for a forest conservation overlay zone in the development bylaw. Commissioners noted that TRORC’s proposed map left out a lot of forests, including the wildlife corridor in the northern part of town. They agreed that it would be better to have a forest block zone that is clear and enforceable rather than the scattered pieces of our current conservation district. If Brookfield changed to a forest blocks conservation zone, wetlands and steep slopes would need to be addressed. We need to ask TRORC what restrictions they would propose for a forest conservation zone. Though the legislative mandate provides backing, there are limits as to what the town will accept. Other towns have restricted the length of driveways and required larger lots. Jon B. will arrange a meeting for us with Kevin Geiger to get more information, coordinating with Jon Jickling.
Strategic Planning
Kathy reported on her discussion with Jens Hilke of VT Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, who has facilitated strategic planning for conservation commissions. She showed examples of the process from the towns of Bradford and South Burlington. The process involves having commission members brainstorm a list of potential projects for the next five years, then rank their importance, level of expertise required, and feasibility. It would take two to three meetings (perhaps some special meetings) plus homework. If Jens Hilke facilitated, he would tabulate the results, and at the last meeting, commissioners would reconcile priorities and decide what projects to take on. It is possible for the commission to undertake this process on their own, but the facilitator member could not fully participate. Late fall and winter would be a good time for strategic planning.
Educational Programs
The Commission discussed potential educational programs and field trips for the public. The following field trips were scheduled:
Sat., September 11, with rain date of September 12 – Sunset Lake Paddle, led by Starr Strong
Sun., October 17 – Hike in Town Forest, led by Jon Binhammer
Starr may be able to present a program on one of her trips this winter.
Other Business:
Sue reported that she is still trying to contact the VTrans biologist re: improving the northern highway crossing for wildlife.
Jon B. reported that he has received no communication from the Brookfield School recently on the proposed habitat improvement project.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 P.M.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 19.
Respectfully submitted,
Susan Shea

May 212021
 

Draft Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission 5-17-21
Present: Jon Binhammer, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter, Starr Strong
Zoom Meeting to order at 7:07 PM
Public Comment:  none.
Motion to approve April minutes as amended by Sue was made by Jon J and seconded by Starr.  All approved.
Annual Meeting:  We held an election of officers, per our bylaws, and there were no changes. Jon B is chair, Sue is vice chair, Jon J is treasurer and Kathy is clerk.  Starr is responsible for Green Up Day. Kathy suggested a point person assume responsibility for growing our stakeholder list.  We will share responsibility for making sure we gather contact information at events and maintain a shared database.  Minutes will be rotated and Kathy will continue to post them.
Green Up Day:  Starr provided stats on the day.  There were about 45 volunteers, not including the 12 families from W. Brookfield, 32 miles of road cleaned, 50 tires, 94 bags of trash. Hazardous waste was discussed at length, as it presents problems for volunteers staffing the town garage drop off.  Starr will pursue a possible  solution and will contact Green Up.  Discussion followed concerning redeemable container options, including a bottle drive to benefit our commission.
Planning Commission (PC) and Zoning Bylaws:  Kevin Geiger of Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TOROC) has offered to review our bylaws in June and then come to a meeting to answer questions. The PC would like us to vet his recommendations. Jon J will contact him and ask him to send his review to him.
Values Mapping and Natural Resource Inventory:  Kathy spoke with Jens Hilke of VT Fish and Wildlife and he offered to do strategic planning with us to help us determine our path forward.  Options were discussed and Kathy will contact Jens to get more information for discussion and a decision at the June meeting.
Schoolyard Habitat:  Jon B reported that principal and teachers want an outdoor classroom/structure with the raised beds moved to that area. Well will be drilled this summer. Jon wants to integrate plantings in that area. We will assume more of a consulting role re: habitat enhancement.
Other Business:
Wildlife Crossing: Sue has a call in to the VTrans biologist.
Next meeting will be June 21, likely on zoom.
Adjourned meeting at 8:33 PM.
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

May 172021
 

Brookfield Conservation Commission Meeting
May 17, 2021
7:00 pm

Via Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87015147740?pwd=NmRvaTVGTGFKdGJRdFlIVjJzdnpvZz09
Meeting Agenda
1. Review Agenda
2. Public Comment
3. Approval of Minutes of the April 16, 2021 meeting
4. Annual meeting – officers etc.
5. Green Up Day wrap-up, ideas for next year
6. Planning Commission, and zoning bylaw
7. Values mapping and strategic planning
8. Brookfield Elementary Schoolyard habitat project update
9. Other business
10. Adjourn

May 052021
 

SPECIAL MEETING of Brookfield Conservation Commission
Draft Minutes
April 27, 2021
 
Zoom meeting to order: 7:05 PM

Present: Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea and Starr Strong
Public Comment – Jon Jickling said there has been a flurry of activity regarding Emerald Ash Borer in town. He and Town Forester Kate Forrer are planning to put up 16 traps in several locations in town to monitor presence of the borer.  The town plans to create an ad hoc committee for EAB in town, because the Public Safety Committee is no longer interested in being involved.
Approval of Minutes of the March 14, 2021 meeting – moved by Kathy Kinter, seconded by Jon Jickling.  All voted in favor.
Green Up Day preparations – Starr reported that Green Up is from 9 – 4, and that there will be a dumpster set up for trash and an area for metal and tires. She has put a sign up by the Church in Pond Village.  Jon B. has informed the teachers and encouraged them to have the students take bags, put up signs around Pond Village, and put out an announcement on Front Porch Forum.  Sue reported that West Brookfield cleanup is organized by the West Brookfield meeting house group – they will collect trash bags in a trailer in West Brookfield village and then truck them over to the town garage.  Starr will person the garage from 9 to noon, Jon J. from noon to 2, and Jon B. from 2 to 4.
Values mapping – Kathy said this is an effort promoted by Jens Hilke of VT Fish and Wildlife Dept., in order to engage community members in envisioning what they would like to see in the future for the town, esp. regarding conservation. Commission members discussed the goals and objectives of this proposal, and how to sequence it with ongoing projects, such as the Town Plan rewrite by 2024.  Kathy will speak with Jens to discuss timing.  No action was taken.
Natural Resources Inventory – Sue reported on the webinar she and Kathy attended.  Should we want to do an inventory of natural resources in town, it would entail hiring a consultant to do the work. The expense could be around $20,000, so Sue spoke about possible fundraising options.  The inventory, which would entail natural resources at three scales (landscape, natural community, and species) could be used to help with town planning and zoning as well as targeting conservation projects in those areas that have greater biodiversity.  She suggested creating a Steering Committee so that there is buy-in in the community. No action was taken
How to engage with the Planning Commission – Commissioners discussed how to engage with the Planning Commission on wildlife issues and Act 171 requirements for planning of forest blocks.  All agreed that the PC is working on a rewrite of the zoning bylaw and they don’t have the time to deal with these issues until the town plan rewrite is imminent.
I-89 Wildlife Crossing- debrief from Jens Hilke field visit – Commissioners met with Jens Hilke of VTF&W on April 14 at the three crossings of I-89 to evaluate how well they would serve as corridors for wildlife going east to west or vice-versa without crossing the traveled way.  Jens suggested that the best opportunity was where the Northfield Road underpass is.  Some minor modifications could be made to allow for more area for wildlife to cross under the highway, including taking out the chain link fence that is no longer needed and creating a smooth shelf at the base of the rip-rap under the bridge so that hooved animals can cross more easily.  The other two sites – Rte. 65 overpass and Crossover Road over and underpass were too open, noisy, and dangerous for wildlife to use, although there could be some use in the middle of the night, esp. Rt. 65, which is closed in the winter due to the Floating Bridge, so there is little traffic.  The next step would be to look into game cameras for pre and post monitoring – Jens can lend us some, but we would need to hire a consultant to install.  And then to call the VTRANS District Administrator to see if the improvements outlined above could be scheduled at some point when they are doing work around the bridges.  Sue will contact the VTRANS biologist, and then the District Administrator.  Further discussion at a future meeting.
Other business – none

Next meeting is May 17
Adjourned meeting at 8:51 PM.
 
Respectfully Submitted,
Jon Binhammer
Draft Minutes
April 27, 2021 7:00 pm
Zoom meeting to order: 7:05 PM

Present: Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea and Starr Strong
Public Comment – Jon Jickling said there has been a flurry of activity regarding Emerald Ash Borer in town. He and Town Forester Kate Forrer are planning to put up 16 traps in several locations in town to monitor presence of the borer.  The town plans to create an ad hoc committee for EAB in town, because the Public Safety Committee is no longer interested in being involved.
Approval of Minutes of the March 14, 2021 meeting – moved by Kathy Kinter, seconded by Jon Jickling.  All voted in favor.
Green Up Day preparations – Starr reported that Green Up is from 9 – 4, and that there will be a dumpster set up for trash and an area for metal and tires. She has put a sign up by the Church in Pond Village.  Jon B. has informed the teachers and encouraged them to have the students take bags, put up signs around Pond Village, and put out an announcement on Front Porch Forum.  Sue reported that West Brookfield cleanup is organized by the West Brookfield meeting house group – they will collect trash bags in a trailer in West Brookfield village and then truck them over to the town garage.  Starr will person the garage from 9 to noon, Jon J. from noon to 2, and Jon B. from 2 to 4.
Values mapping – Kathy said this is an effort promoted by Jens Hilke of VT Fish and Wildlife Dept., in order to engage community members in envisioning what they would like to see in the future for the town, esp. regarding conservation. Commission members discussed the goals and objectives of this proposal, and how to sequence it with ongoing projects, such as the Town Plan rewrite by 2024.  Kathy will speak with Jens to discuss timing.  No action was taken.
Natural Resources Inventory – Sue suggested that we consider conducting an inventory of natural resources in town, which would entail hiring a consultant to do the work. The expense could be around $20,000, so Sue spoke about possible fundraising options.  The inventory, which would entail natural resources at three scales (landscape, natural community, and species) could be used to help with town planning and zoning as well as targeting conservation projects in those areas that have greater biodiversity.  She suggested creating a Steering Committee so that there is buy-in in the community. No action was taken
How to engage with the Planning Commission – Commissioners discussed how to engage with the Planning Commission on wildlife issues and Act 171 requirements for planning of forest blocks.  All agreed that the PC is working on a rewrite of the zoning bylaw and they don’t have the time to deal with these issues until the town plan rewrite is imminent.
I-89 Wildlife Crossing- debrief from Jens Hilke field visit – Commissioners met with Jens Hilke of VTF&W on April 14 at the three crossings of I-89 to evaluate how well they would serve as corridors for wildlife going east to west or vice-versa without crossing the traveled way.  Jens suggested that the best opportunity was where the Northfield Road underpass is.  Some minor modifications could be made to allow for more area for wildlife to cross under the highway, including taking out the chain link fence that is no longer needed and creating a smooth shelf at the base of the rip-rap under the bridge so that hooved animals can cross more easily.  The other two sites – Rte. 65 overpass and Crossover Road over and underpass were too open, noisy, and dangerous for wildlife to use, although there could be some use in the middle of the night, esp. Rt. 65, which is closed in the winter due to the Floating Bridge, so there is little traffic.  The next step would be to look into game cameras for pre and post monitoring – Jens can lend us some, but we would need to hire a consultant to install.  And then to call the VTRANS District Administrator to see if the improvements outlined above could be scheduled at some point when they are doing work around the bridges.  Sue will contact the VTRANS biologist, and then the District Administrator.  Further discussion at a future meeting.
Other business – none

Next meeting is May 17
Adjourned meeting at 8:51 PM.
 
Respectfully Submitted,
Jon Binhammer

Apr 252021
 

SPECIAL MEETING
Brookfield Conservation Commission
April 27, 2021 7:00 pm

Via Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86925215227?pwd=NTFJRnhNbVN1YUlabWh6TDg2bExRUT09
Meeting Agenda
1. Review Agenda
2. Public Comment
3. Approval of Minutes of the March 14, 2021 meeting
4. Green Up Day preparations
5. Values mapping
6. Natural Resources Inventory
7. Relationship to Planning Commission
8. I-89 Wildlife Crossing- debrief from Jens Hilke field visit
9. Other business
10. Adjourn

Jan 142021
 

Brookfield Conservation Commission Zoom Meeting
November 18, 2020 7:00 pm
Via Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83046795356?pwd=V0VLOEwxUytvT1FTUnk1TjdaSk03QT09
Meeting Agenda
1. Review Agenda
2. Public Comment
3. Approval of Minutes of the November 16, 2020 meeting
4. I-89 Wildlife Crossing monitoring – reports from field visits
5. Working with the Brookfield School on schoolyard habitat enhancement – update
6. Winter program ideas in Covid time (continued)
7. Brookfield Solar project – former Smith farm on east side Ridge Road near intersection with Crossover Rd.
8. Other business
9. Adjourn

Nov 212020
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission 11-16-2020
Present: Jon Binhammer, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter, Star Strong, Kate Forrer, Town Forester.
Zoom Meeting to order at 7:05 PM
Public Comment: none.
Motion to approve October minutes as presented was made by Jon J, seconded by Starr. No comments, all approved.
Emerald Ash Borer update was provided by Kater Forrer, Town Forester. This included the history of the pest’s spread in VT and its current identified locations throughout the state. While it has been found north of Brookfield, as yet it has not been found in town. Only 2 traps were set this year. Plans for 2021 are to deploy 15 BioForest prism traps around town. Star and Jon J. have offered to help and more folks will be needed. Kate will be in touch with the commission this winter to discuss a plan of action.
Forest fragmentation: Sue spent more time exploring the maps and photos VTrans uses to assess location and condition of bridges and culverts. She focused on interstate 89 culverts. Off of Northfield Rd the culvert is 6’ wide and 258’ long with a stream thru it. West of Pond village, the culvert is 7’ wide by 206’ long with a stream. Given the results of the study Kathy received from Robert Long in WA, she suggested the commission focus on bridges, as long culverts are not likely to be utilized by many animals. She suggested a focus on the passage under the bridges near Lamson Pond Rd. but first doing an assessment of utilization by tracking once we get snow. If it is determined the area is used, we can commit to regular monitoring perhaps with a camera. Jon B is going to speak with someone from TNC about best use of a camera. We would need to find out about whether the Taplains still use the fence for the cattle. Starr has offered to do preliminary monitoring of this area as well as Cross Over Rd. and report back at the next meeting.
Schoolyard Habitat: We unanimously voted, after Jon J motioned and Star seconded, to support the submission of the proposal to the principal as written by Jon B. Jon will ask him what the next steps are.
Sunset Natural Area Bridge: Jon B , Jon J and Mike F. created plank boardwalks with the purchased 2x10x10s. The poles are on site but still need to get moved to the bridge to repair it. Discussion followed about use of horses to move the poles. Jon B will check with the bridge builder for suggestions on how best to move the poles and repair the bridge. The picnic tables should be moved so they can be better utilized. Jon J suggested future programming on the site given its rich wildlife.
Winter Programming: With the new covid restricions it was decided to forgo plans for programs. Folks can still do the Xmas bird count at their homes. Sue suggested that perhaps we can create a self guided trial somewhere for the public to experience on their own.
Other Business: None.
Next meeting will be on zoom on winter solstice, Dec. 21.
Adjourned meeting at 8:20 PM.
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

Nov 182020
 

 
Remote Public Meetings
All public body meetings for the Town of Brookfield will be conducted remotely via electronic means for the duration of Governor Scott’s State of Emergency declaration. Whenever feasible, the public will also be able to access and participate in the remote meetings by dialing in through telephone.
Accessing a Meeting
Please refer to each public body’s notice and agenda for information on how to access a remote meeting. Please note that whether you join by telephone, computer, or device, you may be put on hold or in a waiting “room” until granted access to the meeting. You also may be muted or restricted from using any chat function until the public comment portion of the meeting.
Participation
All meetings will be conducted in accordance with the respective “Rules of Procedure” of each public body, to the extent practicable. The public body will follow its agenda and allow public attendees to participate through voice (audio) means where feasible or alternatively using any chat function during the designated public comment periods on the agenda and at other applicable times as needed.
Initially, the meeting’s host/organizer will mute all participants that are not members of the public body. This is necessary to control background noise. The host/organizer will then unmute participants or allow participants to unmute themselves when invited to speak by the Chair of the public body.
Please review the following guidelines:
The Chair will invite comment:
o during the time designated on the agenda for public comment;
o after the public body discusses each agenda item;
o before the public body takes action;
o during any open public comment period, if applicable; and
o other times as determined by the public body.
When a participant/attendee is unmuted, they must state their name before commenting.
If the public body successfully moves to enter an executive session, the meeting’s host/organizer will then place everyone that is not part of the executive session on hold or a virtual waiting “room.” This will prevent attendees from hearing or participating in the meeting during the duration of the executive session. When the public body exits executive session, the host/organizer will then grant access back to the remote meeting.
When the public body adjourns the meeting, the host/organizer will end the electronic meeting by turning off/closing the remote meeting software. Attendees will be automatically disconnected.
Minutes and other public records that were part of the meeting will be made available in accordance with VT’s Open Meeting and Public Records Laws.
To learn more about Remote Public Meetings and the Open Meeting Law, please visit the Secretary of State’s Municipal Assistance webpage at:
https://sos.vermont.gov/municipal-division/laws-resources/covid-19-response/