The Conservation Commission voted unanimously to fund a detailed forest management plan for the Musquash Conservation Area, to be completed in the next year.
Consulting Forester Charles Moreno presented three types of plans. The most detailed, which the Commission chose, will cost the Town $21,125.
The plan will include Moreno’s research and objectives, fieldwork, forest inventory and a report including hand-drawn maps of the property. Moreno’s report also includes a presentation to the Town of his findings in the Musquash.
“The field work is huge. In the proposals I have, the big difference from the more streamlined resource plan to the more detailed plan is a full forest inventory,” Moreno, who has done some mapping of the conservation area for the Town in the past, told the Commission.
In a summary of the work to be completed during creation of the management plan, Moreno writes that he will conduct research, gathering and studying relevant materials; meet with the Commission to define the Town’s management objectives for the Musquash; complete fieldwork, with findings to tie to the management objectives process; produce a physical and natural features map, a forest/cover type map, a recommendations map and a soils map; prepare the final report; and a final presentation of the report that addressed the purpose of managing the forest and how it is ecologically beneficial.
Additional maps covering specialized wildlife habitat and access planning may also be rendered.
Maps produced as part of the forest management plan will build on Moreno’s maps detailing the original Musquash acreage, which can be converted to GIS (Geographic Information System) format for use on the Town’s GIS system.
“Many properties have a re-inventory every 20 years. It’s really interesting to track the makeup of the forest and take a measure of the sustainability of the management of the forest,” Moreno said.
The Town, which started to conduct an inventory of the Musquash about 10 years ago, has not completed a full inventory of the property, according to Moreno.
Commissioner Deb Lievens noted the forest management plan will help the Commission get a better sense of where future cuts in the Musquash would be most beneficial.
The Commission has a planned cut to be completed this winter, but is waiting to hear from representatives at New Hampshire Fish and Game Division, who are hoping to use grant funding for a cut in Londonderry to create habitat for New England Cottontail.
The cuts help with new growth in the forest and support sustainability, according to Chairman Marge Badois.
The forest management plan would help the Commission ensure the cuts are sustainable long term.
“Having a baseline, you can have a sense for what’s there today and track in the future,” Moreno said. “It’s useful just to see the development of this forest over time.”
“The investment we make today is a long-term investment. It won’t necessarily pay off in two to three years,” Commissioner Mike Speltz said.
“There will be expenses for the forest, such as keeping the New England Cottontail sites managed,” Moreno said. “Knowing what the income projections (from timber harvests) are and knowing what that can help pay for may be helpful. And the sustainability part is huge. It’s a limited resource. There’s a specific number of trees out there and they only grow so fast.
“If you cut too fast, that’s not sustainable,” Moreno noted. “A baseline study every 20 years is a good way to monitor that.”