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

Oct 212020
 

Brookfield Conservation Commission Meeting Minutes
10-19-2020
Present: Jon Binhammer, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling, Kathy Kinter Absent: Star Strong
Zoom Meeting to order at 7:08 PM
Public Comment: none.
Motion to approve August minutes as presented was made by Jon J, seconded by Sue. No comments, all approved.
Forest fragmentation: Sue received tools from Jens that VTrans uses to assess location and condition of bridges and culverts. She looked at the maps as they pertained to interstate 89 and Brookfield. There are 3 sets of bridges: Cross Over Rd, rte. 65 and Lamson Pond Rd. There are 2 culverts under 89: one off of Northfield Rd where we visited on our summer field trip and the other just south of crossing of 65 west of Pond Village. While the culverts looked big, they don’t appear friendly to wildlife as they are very long and the bottoms are ridged metal. Might they be improved and how? Sue explained that platforms can be put inside for animals to walk on. Riprap of stone can be covered with native soil so larger mammals are more comfortable walking on it. Jon B suggested we might focus on the passage under the bridges near Lamson Pond Rd. We would need to find out about whether the Taplains still use the fence for the cattle. Discussion followed concerning the viability of this. It was determined that more information is needed before we commit to attempting to monitor wildlife this winter with tracks and a game cam. Kathy and Sue will do some research and report back next meeting.
Emerald Ash Borer update was not possible as Kate Forrer, Town Forester could not make this meeting. Jon B. will be in touch with her prior to the next meeting for an update to share with us at November’s meeting.
Schoolyard Habitat: Jon B will send draft proposal to us prior to next meeting so we can ratify it then. He recapped the general idea—to plant native trees near forested areas behind windbreak and a native wildflower meadow in center of same area or perhaps next to road where soils aren’t as rich. Kathy asked about maintenance, and that will need to get worked out. Jon J. stressed the importance of a trail to help delineate the planted areas so they are not inadvertently mowed. There are grants for school habitat creation. Maybe do small wetland habitat in future.
Sunset Natural Area Bridge: Jon B ordered 2x10x10s for walkway. Still plan to lift bridge out of water and to get the phone poles Nancy offered several months ago. Town road crew had agreed to move them. Nancy may have someone to do it. Jon B. will contact her again. He hopes to work on the project in Nov.
Surficial Geology Mapping by Norwich University: George Springston, a geology professor, wants to map the Brookfield quadrangle which would include peatlands, cliffs, rock outcroppings and surface deposits like glacial till, sand and gravel. He needs a letter of support from the Commission. Jon J moved to support the request and Sue seconded the motion. Jon B will write the letter. These findings could be included in our natural resources inventory. Kathy suggested they produce a map overlay that can be used with the Biofinder maps of the area. It was suggested to ask George to lead a geology walk next year.
Allis State Park field trip: Jon J reported that he, Jon B and Starr co-led about 15 people through the park to engage in tree ID and discuss the CCC’s contribution to the infrastructure. There was much interest in trees and we decided to offer a tree program in the future. We will come to the next meeting with additional ideas for winter field trips.
Other Business: Laurel McEwen brought us up to date on what has transpired thus far on the proposed Baker development near Twin Ponds on town highway 14. The McEwens hired a wetlands specialist who identified a class 2 wetland on both sides of the road, and the State wetlands staff concurred. A permit will be required to build.
Next meeting will be on zoom on the 16th of November.
Adjourned meeting at 8:30 P.M.
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

Sep 022020
 

Present: Jon Binhammer, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling Absent: Star Strong, Kathy Kinter
Zoom Meeting to order at 7:04 PM
There was no one from the public in attendance.
Motion to approve May minutes presented was made by Jon J, seconded by Sue. No comments, all approved.
Emerald Ash Borer update was not possible as Kate Forrer, Town Forester could not make this meeting.
Continued discussion on Forest fragmentation. Discussion of the Planning Commission’s decision to not support the Conservation Commission’s (CC) letter of concern to the Selectboard over the proposal to extend a class 4 road which goes into the woods off Twin Ponds road. It was disappointing to see little consideration of the adopted town plan in this process.
Sue emphasized that the forest fragmentation issue needs to be a long term project. The CC needs to better understand the important ecological resources (e.g., put up game cameras to identify where wildlife is crossing interstate). Option to check with Jens, VT Fish and Wildlife, to see what information exists about these sites. Look at other information using Biofinder about unique areas in the north of the town.
Jon B indicated that Kathy and Starr were appointed to new 4-year terms by the Selectboard.
Jon B provided a overview of the CC field trip to the Fen led by Jon B was a success but logistically a bit. 15 participants total; 60-70% were from Brookfield, rest from Randolph and Braintree. Good story presented in the Herald.
Discussion of other ideas for CC field trips. Brookfield Town forest option: challenging due to no open trails. Decision was made to organize a nature walk at Allis state park on Sunday Sept. 27th from 3-5pm. Continued theme “Get to know Brookfield resources”. 25 limit… Jon J to organize. Put on FPF 10 days in advance (Sept 17th) .
Next meeting will be 21st of September. We will meet at school to see the natural area behind the School and later stop by the Sunset Brook natural area boardwalk.
No new business.
Adjorned meeting at 7:41 by Zoom time limit shutdown
Respectfully submitted,
Jon Jickling

Jun 222020
 

Present: Jon Binhammer, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Starr Strong, Jon Jickling
Meeting outside at Town Office came to order at 7:00 PM
May minutes were unanimously approved as presented.  Kathy informed the group that she is now posting the minutes on the town site and they will no longer be labeled “draft” or “final”.  If they need to be amended, they will be posted as such on the site. There is now a drop down tab for agendas and minutes for the committees and commissions.
There was no one from the public in attendance.
Jon J will invite Kate F. to the next meeting for an EAB update.
Annual Meeting –Jon B informed us that we had missed the annual meeting in May since it was on Zoom. Starr and Kathy agreed to 4 yr.- terms and Jon will make the recommendation to the Selectboard to appoint them as such.  Officers were elected and no changes were made.
Chair-Jon Binhammer
Vice Chair-Sue Shea
Treasurer-Jon Jickling
Secretary-Kathy Kinter
Green Up Day:  Starr spoke to Bonnie Fallon and presented what she had learned regarding prior history. We voted unanimously to adopt it as a Commission project for next year.  Discussion followed about involving the school and families, as well as how to handle returnables.  We will begin planning at our Feb. or March meeting.
Our meetings in the time of Covid:  We agreed to continue to meet outside the town office as long as weather was cooperative.  Jon B will speak with Ted about using the Old Town Hall in event of darkness, rain or cold. Should we need to meet there, we can put a sign on the town office door directing folks across the street.
Lamson Pond Fen Conservation Project: Closing on the property occurred.  Discussed hosting a field trip to the fen for a small group of 10-12, with prior registration and face masks required. Sue will do publicity. Jon B will send her the information.  Trip to be Aug. 9, 3 PM.
Planning Commission collaboration RE: Act 171/Forest Fragmentation:  Jon J shared that the commission has not been meeting and has no plans to at present.  He did share information with them regarding Biofinder but does not know if anyone accessed it.
We discussed the need to familiarize ourselves (and perhaps invite members of the Planning Commission) with parcels that have been identified on Biofinder as being of high ecological importance.  Sue looked at the maps Jon B sent her but was unable to print them. She did ascertain that these areas warranted investigation: 1). north of rte. 65, on the west side of 89 and a bit where rte. 65 meets rte. 12; 2). north of rte. 12 to the Roxbury line (calcareous wetland) 3). around Sunset Lake and the wetland north of it.  Starr suggested we look at wildlife crossings near the interstate as well as the marsh between Cross Over Rd, 89 and West St.   We will do a field trip on Tu. July 7 at 3:00 PM and meet at Baker Pond.  Kathy suggested we have maps from Biofinder and that if Jens would send his power point, we could perhaps print those maps. Jon B and Sue will reach out to Jens again.
Jon B mentioned that there is a current proposal to extend a class 4 road which goes into the woods near the rte. 14 side of Twin Pond Rd.  The proposal is for a 700 ft. road with possible development, both of which would contribute to fragmentation.
Brookfield School Habitat Enhancement- Jon B spoke with the principal and head maintenance person about our doing a plan to do Native plantings with the kids that would augment the Four Winds program, as well as the surrounding habitat of the school.  It would be shared with the superintendent.  Staff were supportive of the idea. We will plan an outing to the school in September. Kathy will talk with Kathleen Sauer about how best to coordinate with Four Winds.
Sunset Brook Natural Area: Jon B and Jon J surveyed the bridge and board walk.  Nancy MccCall has phone poles that could be used to repair the bridge, as it is listing to one side. Jon J would donate wood for the boardwalk repair. Jon B reached out to the Scout leader whose boys helped with repairs after Irene; 10-15 people would be needed.  We voted unanimously to make this a Commission project.  Jon B. will ask if the road crew might help with transporting the poles. We could visit the area in Sept. when we visit the school grounds.
 Next meeting:  THERE WILL NOT BE A JULY MEETING.   Next meeting is Monday, August 17 7:00 PM   Town Office, if weather conducive
Meeting Adjourned at 8:35 PM
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter
 
 

Jun 112020
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission         5-18-20
Present: Jon Binhammer, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling.
Zoom meeting came to order at 7:05 PM
January minutes were unanimously approved as presented.  February’s meeting was cancelled due to weather and we did not meet March or April due to covid 19.
There was no one from the public in attendance.
Lamson Pond Fen Conservation Project: Closing is proceeding and should be finalized in the next couple weeks. All agreed a hike open to a limited number of the public with physical distancing will be planned for summer. Some trail clearing may need to occur.  Public access routes were discussed.
Planning Commission collaboration RE: Act 171/Forest Fragmentation:  Jon J will share a summary of Jens Hilke’s presentation  at the upcoming meeting.  We agreed to all learn more about the high priority areas as designated and what might be done to protect them so that we can create a proposal. Sue will reach out to Jens again for information.  We agreed that field trips to some of the areas would be helpful.
Tabled Website and ash borer discussions.  Town forester will be invited to the next meeting.Green Up Day: Bonnie will do it this year for the last time.  We will discuss our adoption of it for next year.  Jon B will ask the selectboard at the next meeting if they will approve the town truck coming to W Brookfield to pick up trash.  If so, he will get bags, and Sue or Kathy will pick them up.  Sue will reach out to village residents about helping on May 30.
Zoom meeting came to abrupt end, as we ran out of time.
Tabled: Brainstorming and prioritizing projects for 2020
Next meeting:  Monday, June 15   7:00 PM   Town  Library, if weather conducive or Zoom
Meeting Adjourned at 7:40  PM
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

Jan 282020
 

DRAFT    Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission         1-20-20
Present: Jon Binhammer, Starr Strong, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling. Town Forester Kate Forrer came late.
Meeting came to order at 6:55PM
December minutes were unanimously approved as presented.
There was no one from the public in attendance.
Bylaws: Jon B. will have the bylaws for us to sign at the next meeting. He was unable to print them due to printer malfunction.
Act 171:  Jens Hilke, from VT Fish and Wildlife Dept., came to the meeting to explain Act 171, which became law 1/18.  His job is to work with towns to implement the act, the purpose of which is to maintain and improve ecological integrity of forest blocks and connectors throughout the state by incorporating such management goals into town plans and zoning. All towns are required to incorporate into their town plans land development that minimizes forest fragmentation and promotes health, viability and ecological function.  Town plans are now updated every 8 years.
He emphasized the importance and benefits of large blocks of forest, not only for ecological function, but for recreation, economics, scenic beauty, intrinsic worth and more.  In planning, the goal is to maintain economic, ecological and community function values, which are sure to overlap.
Brookfield is primarily a piedmont town with relatively small (several hundred acres) forest blocks, but because of their current connectedness and proximity to one another, they act ecologically like larger blocks.  The town is surrounded by much larger blocks to the east and west and it is critical to maintain connectivity to these blocks.  Our town has a fair bit of fragmentation due to all the roads, farmland and development.
Biofinder 3 (biofinder.vermont.gov) was just released.
Biofinder is an online mapping tool that allows VT citizens to explore the land and waters
in VT that are most important for supporting ecosystems, natural communities, habitats and species.
We looked at several maps of the town, each focusing on a particular feature such as forest blocks, riparian areas, physical landscapes rich in calcium, culverts and wildlife road crossings.  Jens mentioned the importance of the town adopting VTrans orange book standards for culverts.  These culverts are larger than those currently used and would be replaced by FEMA in event of severe flood damage.  He gave commission members copies of Mapping VT’s Natural Heritage, along with a CD of maps of the state and has offered to do a computer lab training with us.
Jens also facilitates community values mapping and suggested we consider this as a first step.  He offered to provide guidance as we move forward with implementation of Act 171.
Land conservation:  We discussed the potential of a land conservation plot.
Next meeting:  TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2020   7:00 PM   Town  Library
Meeting Adjourned at 9:15 PM
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter

Dec 042019
 

DRAFT 
     Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation
Commission             Nov. 25, 2019

Present:
Jon Binhammer, Starr Strong, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling

Meeting came to order at 7:00 PM

Review of October minutes which were unanimously
approved as presented.

There was no one from the public in attendance.

Bylaws: We reviewed the second draft, amended
it and voted unanimously to adopt it as amended.  Jon B will make the agreed upon changes and
email us the final draft. He will also give it to the Select Board for their
review.  We will sign the bylaws at our
December meeting.

Open meeting law: Kathy reviewed
open meeting law.

Forest Fragmentation:  Sue presented a recap of the webinar she
watched concerning Act 171, the purpose of which is to maintain and improve
ecological integrity of forest blocks and connectors throughout the state by
incorporating such goals into town plans and zoning.  We agreed that given the Planning
Commission’s current reassessment of Development Bylaws, we have a role to play
in researching and providing input towards meeting the aforementioned goals of
Act 171.

Needed Actions: 

Jon B. will attend
the next Planning Commission meeting if there is time on their agenda. 

Sue will send our
commission the link to the webinar so that we can watch prior to our next
meeting. She will also contact Jens Hilke, wildlife biologist with VT Fish and
Wildlife, to request that he attend our next meeting to discuss Act 171and
BioFinder in detail.  Members of the
Planning Commission will be invited to join us.

Development Bylaws:  Jon J. of the Planning Commission asked
for input regarding the current regulations on setbacks along shorelines of
town waterways.  After discussion that
touched on current and best practices, the regional planning commission and
state regulations, it was decided that our commission needs to first familiarize
ourselves with the Development Bylaws. 
Kathy suggested that the Planning Commission look to state regs for
guidance as well.

Needed Actions:

Prior to the next
meeting we will all review the Development Bylaws Jon J sent us.

Jon B will check
with Two Rivers Regional Planning for their recommendations.

Other business: It was agreed that
we need a visible presence on the town website, i.e, a Conservation Commission
designated tab. 

            Need
Action:

 We will look at other town websites to see what they have done and discuss this at the next meeting.

Next meeting:  Dec 16, 2019

Meeting Adjourned at 8:45 PM. 

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Kinter

Dec 042019
 

Approved 
 Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield
Conservation Commission             Oct.
21, 2019

Present:
Jon Binhammer, Starr Strong, Kathy Kinter, Sue Shea, Jon Jickling

Meeting came to order at 7:03 PM

Review of August and September minutes.  Both were unanimously approved as presented.

There was no one from the public in attendance.

Bylaws: We began the review process.  Jon B will make the agreed upon changes and
email another draft to review at the next meeting.

Open meeting law: The bylaws took so
long it was decided to table this review until next meeting.

Programs:

A
brief recap of the Baker Pond Paddle and Brookfield Town Forest Hike was
made.  Seven were present at the paddle
and 4 at the hike. Kathy suggested always having a sign-up sheet to get
participants’ emails to add to the list she has begun.  This can be used to garner volunteers when
needed as well as announce programs and projects.

EAB subcommittee:

Kate
F, the town forester asked Jon B. if anyone from the commission wanted to serve
on a sub-committee concerning ash borer. 
Jon J. will contact her about serving on the committee.

Other business:

Sue
will attend the forest fragmentation webinar by VT F&W tomorrow and share
what she learned.  Jon B said Two Rivers
has also addressed forest blocks and connectivity.  This issue is relevant to the Planning
Commission as well as the Conservation Commission.

Meetings:  Kathy informed members that Teresa has
posted our meetings and minutes on the town website.  All agreed that the commission needs a
dedicated presence on the site.  Discussion of this will be added to the
next agenda.   

Next
meeting has been moved to Monday, Nov. 25th.

The rest of the agenda was tabled until
next meeting.

Meeting Adjourned at 8:45 PM. 

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Kinter

Aug 202019
 

DRAFT Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield
Conservation Commission             August 19, 2019

Present: Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling, Susan Shea, Kathy Kinter      Absent: Starr Strong

Jon B reviewed minutes from the June meeting for approval. 

They were unanimously approved after discussion about our commission’s role regarding EAB.

Sue will read Safety Committee’s minutes
to keep abreast of their plans.

There was no meeting in July.

Bylaws: Jon B. will email out a draft to members, highlighting areas of import, to be discussed at the September meeting.  At that time we will vote to adopt the bylaws.

Programs:

The Rood Pond Paddle was rescheduled and revamped due to scheduling conflicts. We will do a natural history interp  paddle on Bakers Pond Sept. 22 from 3-5. Sue will be away. Kathy will do publicity. Jon B will announce at OTH program on the 19th.

OTH  9/19 Jon B will do a slide show of Brookfield’s Hidden Gems, discuss the commission and ask for input for program ideas. Jon will contact Ted to let him know this.

Brookfield Town Forest Hike  Oct 6 
3-5    Remind folks to wear bright
colors.

Open meeting law: At next meeting Kathy
will a present brief outline.

Briefly
discussed our role regarding Hippo Park.
Will revisit at next meeting.

Meetings:  Will be held when possible the 3rd
Monday of each month in the library from 7-8:30 PM.  Next meeting is September 16.  Sue will be away.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathy Kinter

Jun 252019
 

Meeting Minutes of the Brookfield Conservation Commission   May 20, 2019
Present: Jon Binhammer, Jon Jickling, Starr Strong, Susan Shea, Kathy Kinter
Jon Binhammer reviewed terms of office for newly appointed commission as approved by the Select Board at their April 8 meeting:
Jon Jickling: 3 yrs.   Sue Shea: 2 yrs.   Starr Strong: 1 yr.   Jon Binhammer: 4 yrs.   Kathy Kinter: 1 yr.
Open meeting law was discussed concerning the agenda, public attendance and minutes.
State statutes were briefly reviewed regarding jurisdiction of the commission. The Statute language:
“administer the lands, properties and other rights which have been acquired by the municipality for the purposes of this chapter” appears to imply that the Sunset Brook Natural Area on Rt. 65 and the town forest fall under our purview. Any financial commitment or receipt of land interest needs to be approved by the Selectboard.   Members are encouraged to familiarize ourselves with the statute – Title 24, Chapter 118.
Finances:  Jon B will ask Select Board for the account balance of the town Conservation and Recreation Fund.
Officers are as follows:
Jon B Chair
Sue S Vice Chair
Jon J Treasurer
Kathy K Secretary
Bylaws: Sue, Starr and Jon J. will review bylaws from other towns of similar size and email samples and recommendations for us to consider at the next meeting. All agreed to not reinvent the wheel.  Key is understanding principal functions.
Assessment:  It was agreed that we assess the information already compiled by the town that would be relevant to our charge, then identify what information is still needed.  A natural resource inventory was suggested, along with use of Bio Finder and VT Conservation Design sites.
Meetings: Will be held when possible the 3rd Monday of each month in the library from 7-8:30 PM.  Three are needed for a quorum.  Next meeting is June 17th.
Projects: Jon B is waiting for confirmation from the school regarding tree planting on June 4 with 34 3rd-6th graders.  Hardwood volunteers will be dug in advance to be planted by teams of 2 kids.  It was suggested that the kids be given information about the conservation commission to take home and or ask that something run in the school newsletter, if there is one.
Randolph and Braintree commissions have been in touch with Sue and asked if we want to join them in a poison parsnip removal project in the coming weeks. She will be in touch with them and report back.
The Commission will be presenting at the Old Town Hall in September. Content to be decided.
Several ideas were shared, as was the importance of educating the community, not only about our existence as a commission, but the importance of the mission. Building an inclusive constituency early is important.  It was agreed that we would try to do an activity each season, along with projects.  It was suggested that we get clear on our purpose and vision for the organization as a means of guiding future decisions.
Respectfully submitted,
Kathy Kinter