Nov 242022
 

Minutes

Brookfield Conservation Commission Meeting

November 21, 2022 

7:00 pm  Regular meeting at Brookfield Town Office/Library (hybrid meeting:  members able to join by Zoom with link to be shared prior to the meeting)

Attendance:  Susan Shea, Starr Strong, Jon Binhammer

  1. Review Agenda – three items added – Nature and Wildlife Photography presentations, 2024 Town budget, and purchase of a game camera 
  2. Public Comment – none
  3. Approval of Minutes of the October, 2022 meeting – we did not have the minutes from the October meeting, so we voted to defer approval until the December meeting.
  4. Town Forest Management Plan update – Areas for reserve and harvest were briefly discussed.  BCC field visit on 11/6 was discussed.  Commissioners thought that mast trees for bear should be encouraged and protected.  We’ll wait to see the county foresters next draft.
  5. Conservation Commissioner search update  – one potential candidate has effectively declined, several candidates were proposed, Starr will speak with one or more of the proposed candidates to obtain more information about their interest in serving and what they would bring.
  6. Community Values Mapping – sharing results.   Commissioners agreed that a discussion of the Community Values Mapping and a thank you to all who participated should be in the Town Report under the Conservation Commission report, but all agreed that a meeting of townspeople who participated was not needed.  All agreed that the results should help the BCC with prioritizing actions.
  7. Brookfield Zoning Bylaw upgrade – BCC involvement?  Sue expressed interest in working on language regarding forest conservation for the bylaw.   Jon Jickling was not in attendance, but due to his recent stint on the Planning Commission, we thought his input would be valuable. Commissioners briefly spoke about the need for increased affordable housing, and agreed that while it was not the BCC’s charge, that we would evaluate proposals and strive to support an increase in housing where it did not have a negative impact on wildlife and natural resources.
  8. Association of Vermont Conservation Commission membership dues – Starr moved to pay AVCC annual dues of $50.00, Sue seconded, all voted in favor.
  9. Nature and Wildlife Photography presentations – We are blessed to have at least two and probably more excellent wildlife and nature photographers in town, with our own Starr Strong and Mark Council.  Commissioners agreed that we should sponsor a public presentation by each of these photographers this winter, perhaps at the church.  All agreed that we should look for a date in December and one in February.  Jon B. will coordinate with the church and/or library.
  10. 2024 Town budget – Commissioners agreed to request a budget of $300.00 for FY 2024.  Current budget is $200.
  11. Game Camera purchase – to assist with wildlife connectivity studies across I-89.  This was recommended by Jens Hilke for our work on the Northfield Road underpass.  Starr said she would look into the cost for our next meeting.
  12. Adjourn – Commissioners voted to adjourn.  Next meeting is December 19, 2022

 

Submitted by J. Binhammer, Chair

Nov 012022
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission        
 Present: Sue Shea, Jon Jickling, Starr Strong    Absent: Jon Binhammer
F2F and Zoom meeting came to order at 7:00 PM
 

Review Agenda
Public Comment  There was no one from the public in attendance
Approval of Minutes of the June 2022 meeting.  Approved.
Town forest plan- AJ Follensbee, County forester and the Conservation Commission members discussed the draft forest management plan recently developed by AJ .  The CC supported the proposed forest management on the bulk of the forest.   The CC were complimentary to the written plan format and content which provides clear description of the forest, management goals and specific recommendations.  CC supported the creation of reserve areas proposed and suggested creating a connection between the two reserve blocks.  The proposed harvest of the declining pine plantation was supported with suggestion of retaining larger healthy pine throughout the forest to enhance stand structure.  CC also suggested establishment of oaks in appropriate areas to anticipate changing climatic conditions.   AJ is going to produce a new version for the review of the CC and for discussions with the Selectboard and the public.
Fall field trip – Given changing weather and upcoming hunting season, it was decided to not organize a field trip in the fall, but rather look to organizing a wintertime outing e.g. snowshoeing.
Adjourn – Meeting Adjourned at 8:20 PM  next meeting on November 21st,

 
Respectfully submitted,
Jon Jickling
 

Jun 272022
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission         6-20-22
 
Present: Sue Shea, Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling   Absent: Starr Strong
Zoom meeting came to order at 7:09 PM
 

Review Agenda
Public Comment: There was no one from the public in attendance.
Approval of Minutes of the May 2022 meeting:  May minutes pending – to be reviewed at July meeting.
Membership:  Sue, Jon and Kathy contacted possible candidates who declined.  Holly Dustin, Beth Urie, and East Hill folks who went on hikes are other potential candidates. Jon B. will contact them. In July, we will decide whether to advertise on FPF.
Field Trips:  Proposed visit to Town Forest September 24 or 25 with County Forester AJ Follensbee to introduce forest managment plan and discuss other activities.

Hikes on Class 4 roads are other possible field trips. Potential locations are Cram Hill Road or Class 4 road between East St. and Rt. 65.

Presentation of Community Values Mapping:  Jens Hilke sent Jon B. a link to download all the data, a bit challenging technically.   Jon will ask Jens if he is willing to present the findings to the community.
Solar Preferred Site Discussion:  Should we develop criteria for preferred sites for solar projects? We should find out if the Planning Commission is working on this.  Jon B. will reach out to Gwynn Z.
Schoolyard Habitat: Jon B. sent an e-mail to Brookfield School principal regarding the new outdoor classroom and opportunities for restoration work.  There doesn’t seem to be much interest from them in  collaboration but if we can find a motivated teacher we may continue to pursue.
Town Forest Plan: Reviewed map and preliminary harvest schedule prepared by AJ Follensbee.  Discussed desire that AJ participate in next CC meeting in July to review full draft plan and to discuss possible September public hike in the Town Forest.
I-89 Underpass Wildlife Corridor Update: Jens Hilke was supposed to do a site inspection with VTRANS, no word yet whether it happened and result. Jens was interested that Williamstown had land adjacent to Brookfield which would improve wildlife corridor in northern part of town.
 Adjourn: Meeting adjourned at 8:20 PM.

Next meeting:  July 25, with focus to review Town Forest Plan with AJ Follensbee.
 
 
Respectfully submitted,
Jon Jickling

May 032022
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission 4-18-22
Present: Sue Shea, Starr Strong, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter    Absent: Jon Binhammer
Zoom meeting came to order at 7:06 PM
March minutes were unanimously approved as presented.
There was no one from the public in attendance.
Community Values Mapping Debrief: It was felt by most that there wasn’t enough time to map all that folks wanted. Some folks were unable to connect or manage Miro. Question was raised, should we try for another in-person experience in the fall? There is a sense of urgency to get the results from the recent event (even with low turnout) so that we can apply them to the town plan, zoning and conservation delineations. Kathy will speak to Jens to get his input on all this and if we should still plan for a town-wide meeting in June.
Kathy reminded everyone that we meet with Jens and the Planning Commission on May 18 via zoom to discuss results and look at maps.
It was noted that turtle crossings were discussed: rte 65 where culvert under road. No. and So. Ponds are relatively close. Also, in the village near where the stream flows from the pond and the Brookfield side of Baker’s Pond. We may want to look into signage.
Vtrans: They responded to Sue and Jon’s letter and will go out with Jens to look at the wildlife crossing under 89 on Northfield Rd. If they don’t do it within 2 months, someone from the commission will follow up.
Town Meeting: Jon J and Kathy won’t be there. Jon will give EAB info to Jon B to share. Starr will give report on Green Up Day.
Jon B. is to get reflective window stickers to repel birds to hand out to folks.
Green Up: Starr is waiting for Kate to return her call about bags, etc. She has begun outreach. Sue will post on FPF. Kathy said it is important that people know that electronics and toxics must be disposed of by the people who pick them up. Starr is considering a washing station for returnables at the town garage the day of. Garage open 9-4 that day. Jon J and Starr will person the collection at the garage.
Other Business: Kathy announced that she will be stepping off the commission after the May meeting. A replacement needs to be found.
Given that Jon B is gone when we are to next meet, May 9 was suggested as an alternative. Starr leaves May 23.
Next meeting: TBD
Meeting Adjourned at 8:15 PM
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

Apr 052022
 

Minutes
Brookfield Conservation Commission Meeting
March 21, 2022
7:00 Regular meeting via Zoom
Meeting called to order at 7:02.

Review Agenda – two items added – VT AOT and Natural Resource Inventory
Public Comment – none
Approval of Minutes of the February, 2022 meeting. Moved by Starr Strong, Seconded by Sue Shea. All approved
Discussion of Brookfield Town Forest Management Planning, with County Forester, AJ Follansbee – AJ said that Orange and Windsor Counties have the largest enrollment in Current Use of any other counties, with about 5,000 enrollments in each. He explained how he would start to craft a management plan for the town forest, and then put it out for public input. The Cons Comm could be involved in the whole process, including field visits. All agreed that we wanted the Town Forest management to be different from the surrounding landscape, emphasizing quality and possible old forest characteristics in some parts, recognizing that the town forest is not unique, but management could be exemplary. Recreation was something we wanted to consider more fully. Commissioners thanked AJ for joining us and helping us think about possibilitie
Community Values Mapping

List of contacts for the event – Commissioners have been talking up the event and trying to get a diverse representation of Brookfield people to show up. There were several questions about how to get better representation of the diverse opinions of residents.
Confirm date for first meeting with Jens and come up with some dates for our second meeting where we discuss overlays. May 18th was confirmed for the date to discuss the findings and the ‘heat map’ of the town.
Read Mapping VT’s Natural Heritage pp 87-106 to help determine what maps we want Jens to overlay the heatmap on.
Approve Kathy’s expenditure for the first month of Miro: $20 This was moved by Jon Jickling and seconded by Starr Strong. All voted in favor.

Other business

Dept of Transportation – Sue reported that she has not heard back from her letter to VTrans about the wildlife crossing                       upgrade.
Natural Resource inventory – talked about an inventory of the town forest, and the cost of an inventory of the whole town                 ($20,000+). This was tabled for a future discussion.

Adjourn – next meeting is April 18, 2022
Respectfully submitted,
Jon Binhammer

 

Jan 262022
 

Minutes Brookfield Conservation Commission
Jan 17, 2022 Zoom Meeting

Present: Sue Shea, Starr Strong, Kathy Kinter, Jon Jickling, Jon Binhammer
1. Review Agenda
2. Public Comment – none
3. Approval of minutes of the December meeting
4. Starr completed Environmental Leadership training 1 and 2 given by VT Agency of Natural
Resources. She reported to commission contents of training in anticipation of Community
Values Mapping (CVM).
5. Kathy reports on meeting, along with the Jon B and Jon J, with the planning commission to
garner their support in the CVM project. They voted to formally co-host the event. Keven
Ring, their new member, will join Kathy and Sue to coordinate promotions for the event
occurring March 23.
CVM Preparedness Discussion:
a. Asynchronous opportunity as well as poster of town map for mark up will be
available after the in-person event. Possibly place poster outside or inside town office
or school vestibule.
b. Community groups to be invited: churches (Pond Village and E. Brookfield), public
safety committee, W. Brookfield list serve, Old Town Hall list, Historical Society,
Masons (?)
c. PR to Herald, FPF
d. Both Jons will attend the selectboard meeting to inform them of CVM
6. Other business
a. Jon B’s concern of enormous loss of birds in last decades. Proposed that we make UV
stickers available to folks at town meeting to put on their windows to repel birds, since
so many die upon impact. Commission voted in support of Jon purchasing 200 stickers
at $40 and to also make information available to pass out with the stickers.
b. Winter field trip discussed. Will make decision at next meeting whether we will do a
hike along Sunset Lake late winter.
c. Ice harvest 1/29
d. Jon J. announced that the town forest management plan is due for an update and is in
the process of being done. Typically county foresters oversee this process. Discussion
proceeded RE: focus of plan to include other focuses than harvesting of trees. Bethel
Town Forest Plan is available as template for us to review. Members will review and
discuss at the next meeting.
e. Prior to meeting, Sue circulated a draft letter she had written to AOT about a wildlife
crossing project at the Northfield Rd overpass that would facilitate safe passage. The
letter was in response to the fact that AOT had not responded to earlier contacts.
Members provided additional input.
7. Next meeting is 2/21/22
Adjourned 8:45
Respectfully Submitted,
Starr Strong

Dec 152021
 

Brookfield Conservation Commission
December 14, 2021 Meeting Minutes
Participants: Jon Binhammer, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling
1. Review Agenda: No additions
2. Public Comment: No members present
3. Approval of Minutes of the November meeting. Approved with amendment, Kathy motioned to approve and Jon seconded. Approved unanimously.
4. Ongoing Discussion of Community Support :
Concern that presentation of draft forest blocks prior to getting public input would be ill advised. Discussed idea of values mapping with the community. Process well defined for community participation and facilitated by ANR staff to guide the conversation and process. Using a town map each person identifies special areas or values and shares what makes Brookfield special, thus building support and shared values in the community. A report is produced with a compilation of all values/areas that were shared. These in turn are over layed to create a heat map indicating where several values are held in common throughout the town. Results are used in town planning– whether safety, planning, conservation or governance.
Emphasis in getting public involvement from different interest groups. Need 2-month promotional phase. Sue and Kathy will spearhead outreach. Use town meeting to share with town to promote and gather input.
Jon J to approach the planning commission to consider co-hosting a community values mapping event following the ANR model, which has been used in many towns across VT. Building allies in the community would help the town support planning efforts. Target date will be discussed with Jens Hilke, but try for mid-March.
5. Other business
Lack of results from Jens’ inquiries to AOT about I-89 underpass on Northfield road to get permission to remove fencing to improve wildlife passage. Sue and Jon to draft letter to AOT.
6. Adjourned at 8:15 – next meeting is January 17 , 2022
Respectfully submitted,
Jon Jickling
 

Dec 132021
 

Minutes
Brookfield Conservation Commission
November 15, 2021   Zoom Meeting
1. Review Agenda
2. Public Comment – none
3. Approval of Minutes of the October meeting – Moved by Jon J. seconded by Sue Shea – motion approved.
4. Forest Blocks and Habitat Connectors in Brookfield, debrief from information session with Kevin Geiger of Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission
Conservation Commissioners expressed interest in working with the Planning Commission on recommendations for the update of the zoning bylaw relative to wildlife and natural resources in Brookfield. It is important for the BCC to have compelling argument, explain the rationale, and how aspects of this work might have effects across the whole bylaw.  It was agreed that we would try to submit recommendations to the PC by January or February of 2022.
We then attempted to draw polygons around forest blocks in Brookfield that would help inform a Conservation Zone in town. Currently the Conservation Zone is simply steep slopes and wetlands. Wetlands that are Class 2 are already regulated by the State Wetlands Office, and steep slopes are difficult to map and enforce. So the thought was to identify areas in town where future development was more acceptable because of limits on impacts on wildlife and natural resources, and forest blocks – areas that were more sensitive for wildlife or are habitat corridors, where development would be more limited.
Concern was raised about the extent of the forest blocks in town, and how we could work toward obtaining community support for forest block conservation through zoning. Sue and Kathy were going to research this further and report at the next meeting. Jon B. and Jon J. were going to look into ways to improve mapping of forest blocks and connectors.
5. Update on I-89 wildlife crossing – no update was mentioned.
6. Other business
7. EAB – Jon J. announced that Emerald Ash Borer was found at Allis State Park, probably as a result of firewood being imported.
8. Adjourn – next meeting is December 14, 2021
 
 
 
 

Oct 232021
 

Meeting Minutes
Brookfield Conservation Commission 10/18/21
Present: Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling, Starr Strong, Susan Shea, Kathy Kinter
The meeting was called to order at 8:05 P.M. via zoom.
Minutes of the 9/20/21 meeting were approved.
Public Comment: No members of the public were in attendance.
Addition to Agenda:
All members had just attended the webinar by VT Fish and Wildlife on Act 171 and the selection of forest blocks. Discussion of a plan forward ensued which included scheduling a community values mapping session. Prior to the next meeting members will become familiar with BioFinder so that at the next meeting we can begin to identify forest blocks and wildlife connectors of special value in anticipation of sharing this information with the Planning Commission.
Town Forest Hike:
Four members of the public attended, including a reporter from The Herald. All members of the commission were present but Kathy. Jon J and Jon B will visit the forest in the next couple weeks to ascertain if a trail should be created. Kathy will contact the Middlesex CC to learn more about what they did.
New Business:
Jon J, Jon B and Mike F worked on the bridge in the town natural area to stabilize it and lift it out of the mud. They still have to finish the decking.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 P.M.
The next meeting is scheduled for 11/15/21.
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter
 

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