In an effort to increase monitoring of conservation properties and bolster use of the Town’s recreation areas, members of the Conservation Commission are hitting the trails.
Commissioners Marge Badois, Mike Considine and Paul Nickerson gathered on Nov. 27 for a post-Thanksgiving hike in the Musquash conservation area, where they observed several historic sites and boundaries.
“It would be great to get a Boy Scout in here to do the history of it,” said Considine, who led the group on the tour. It included stops at the foundations of three homes that likely stood in Londonderry’s earliest years.
Commissioners also spotted along the way rusted metal frames of what were likely wooden wheels, as well as a coal-burning stove dating back at least 100 years, antique bowls and the remains of rock walls that framed roadways in Londonderry long ago.
The treasures offered a glimpse of what the forested area looked like in the 1700s and 1800s, and reminded the group of the magic of traveling off the beaten path.
The trails in Londonderry are so beautiful, said Considine, who bikes and hikes frequently in the Musquash, that he prefers them to parks many travel long distances to enjoy.
“I think there are a lot of people who live here and don’t even know all this is in their backyard,” he said.
And that’s part of why the Commission is working to get out into the properties for more frequent monitoring walks.
Most recently, the group walked the Plummer property at Royal Lane and High Range Road, as well as the two Mack’s conservation areas, behind the farm stand and between Pillsbury Road and Adams Road.
Badois said members discovered one case where OHRV (off-highway recreational vehicle) use was apparent on the Plummer property, and another instance where an abutter had pushed a large pile of dirt into the conservation area.
Otherwise, the Commission discovered patrons of the conservation areas were being respectful of the protected lands, and that they were being well used.
“It’s good to be out and see people are using the trails and it is active,” Badois said.
Nickerson said the Commission often hears from leadership within the Town that the conservation properties are underutilized, and that they hope to increase use of conservation properties to raise awareness for the value of the protected land.
The more people who see the advantage of these conservation lands, the more money there will be available to set aside for such parcels, he said.
Although the Commission would ideally walk every conservation property in Londonderry each year, Badois said it’s a challenge with limited time available to complete the extensive hikes and hundreds of acres.
After considering the potential to hire someone to monitor the properties, the Commission determined it wouldn’t be possible to fund a permanent position with Land Use Change Tax funds, which aren’t a guaranteed source of revenue each year.
Instead, the Commission is considering the potential to turn over some of the responsibility to other volunteers interested in helping to monitor the properties, but who may not be able to make the commitment of serving on the Commission.
Those interested in assisting with monitoring conservation properties may contact the Commission by emailing Chairman Marge Badois at email@example.com.