Board Seeks to Regulate Musquash Tree Stands

The question of tree stands for hunting, erected in the Musquash Conservation area without permission, was brought to the Town Council Monday night by Conservation Commission Chairman Deb Lievens.

“Some of these things have been on our radar screen for a while now, and I felt we should come to you with what we’ve talked about and ask if you think we should go forward,” Lievens said.
She said the tree stands have been erected “if not illegally, at least without permission.”
Lievens noted that state statute requires people to get permission of the landowner – in this case, the Town – to erect a tree stand.
She said the commission had checked statute and the sense is that they should take down the tree stands and tell people to ask for permission in the future.
“Our thought was to put some signage up at the kiosks and publicize it in the newspaper that after the first of the year, we will give them some time to take them down and proceed in the future with asking people to ask permission,” Lievens said.
Town manager Kevin Smith said he had discussed the matter with the town attorney, who said the proposal by the Conservation Commission complied with state statute.
Lievens said that temporary tree stands that are moved elsewhere are not part of the discussion.
Councilor Joe Green asked if she were suggesting a license or registration.
Smith said the attorney recommended that there should be no formal process, only notification that the stand was to be erected.
“The attorney said that the less formal the process, the less our liability will be,” Smith said.
Green asked how the town would know which tree stands had received permission.
Smith said that there would be two postings, one that tells people who want to erect a tree stand that they must notify the Conservation Commission, and the second that if the tree stands aren’t down by a certain date, then they will be taken down by the Conservation Commission.
Council Chairman John Farrell said he thought Green was asking who would provide enforcement.
Smith said the Conservation Commission wasn’t looking to give permission to anyone, just requiring notification with contact information so that when the stands had to come down, the commission would know whom to contact.
Lievens said the statute states that a person cannot build anything that damages or destroys a tree, and noted the stands sometimes attach wooden ladders to the trees, which requires written permission from the landowner – in this case, Londonderry. Saying she was trying to protect the town’s rights, Lievens said that after Dec. 31, they could be “fair game” and taken down.
Councilor Tom Dolan said if the stands were coming down in December anyway, he wondered what the point of notifications would be. Smith responded that it was in the event there was an issue with the stand.
Dolan said that if he was to notify the town that he was going to put up a tree stand, there should be something on the stand that would identify it as his.
Conservation Commission member Mike Speltz said it would be reasonable to put contact information on the stand and would be “pretty simple” to give the location of the stand using global positioning systems that hunters use. He said another reason for knowing where the stands are located was that they could be overlaid on a map of the area and the people using the trails would not be in harm’s way.
Farrell said that with a state statute in place, he saw no reason for the town to put a permanent process in place.
“That’s not an area we really want to get involved in, as statute covers it already,” Farrell said.
Smith said the message would get around as seasons go by that if a stand is left too long, it will be taken down.
Farrell said that the “direction is to take the conversation from this evening to the town attorney, make sure it is all proper and then get back to the Conservation Commission as to what the next step is.”
Lievens asked if it would be proper to take down the stands that are currently erected, and Farrell said he would leave it to Smith to find out.
In another matter, Lievens said the parking lot at Kendall Pond Conservation Area has been reported as the site of inappropriate activity.
She said the police department has been contacted and she thinks that as the weather is getting colder, it is not being used as much as a hang-out place. She said parking hours had been discussed as dawn to dusk, but that proved inefficient and unenforceable, and requested a parking ban from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. as a solution to stop overnight parking.
Smith said that would require a change in the ordinance.
Lievens also showed the council a sign that was found at the Faucher Road kiosk regarding shooting in the area; it was riddled with bullet holes. Chief of Police William Hart was in attendance at the meeting and said his department would look into the matter.

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