Thursday, June 28, 2007

July 5, 2007 Conservation Commission Agenda

July 5th, 2007 looks to be a short meeting for the Newington Conservation Commission due to vacations and some project postponements.

However, two new projects are on the agenda. The first to consider a landowner request that the Town acquire a 6 acre parcel of land on Great Bay in lieu of it being sold for development. The second project involves a preliminary proposal to add a deck on an existing home near Great Bay.

The more interesting discussions relate to proposal discussed at our June meeting. These include:

Development of storm water regulations to help control non-point source pollution. According to the NH Department of Environmental Services stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces is the leading cause of non-attainment with the State's water quality standards established under the Clean Water Act.

The Commission is considering working with the New Hampshire Estuaries Project, the NHDES and other resource agencies to adopt controls on stormwater pollution in Great Bay and the Piscataqua River. According to one study by the NHDES Coastal Program, the commercial and industrially developed areas around Paul Brook in Newington had both the highest levels of imperviousness in the watershed and turbidity (i.e. silt) levels of the 10 locations evaluated on the Seacoast.

Silt laden stormwater shown here discharging into Little Bay below Exit 4 in July 2006, is the leading cause of non-point pollution in New Hampshire.

The surface of silt particles in stormwater often traps metals, oils, and other pollutants and carries them to surface waters, resulting in their concentration in aquatic life, increased water temperature, nutrient levels and reduced oxygen.

Technologies are being evaluated at the UNH Stormwater Center that can reduce the impact of stormwater pollution significantly.

The Commission will also continue its discussion of using the state's Air Pollution Mitigation Fund for projects in Newington, expansion of recycling, and other items.

The Commission's Agenda and information package for the meeting containing some of the relevant documents can be downloaded here.

The meeting begins at 7 PM and is open to the public. Please feel free to come by and share your thoughts on these or other matters.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend in Dixville Notch

We spent the weekend at the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire for the Annual Meeting of the NH Bar Association.

The layout of this post is likely going to be screwed up. It's a HORRIBLY implemented aspect of google's blog editor. But in any case, here are some pictures and notes from the trip.
This picture of a bull moose was taken in Dummer New Hampshire from Route 16, just south of Cambridge. The poor moose had hundreds upon hundreds of deer flies on him at any given moment. His back side appeared to be boiling with flies. Ouch!

Unfortunately, both children were fast asleep at this point in our journey, and we did not dare wake them up to see the Moose, some 6-10 feet from the car.

This is the Flume Brook cascades in Dixville Notch State Park. It is a small waterfall adjacent to Route 26 south of the Balsams.
As you can see, Elsa is completely unaware that a picture is being taken. :)
There was a larger network of trails here, but as my main goal for the morning was "Moose Hunting" with Elsa, we explored only the first quarter mile along the brook.

"Moose Hunting along Cascade Brook/Falls." On the opposite (west) side of the road in Dixville Notch, there is a slightly larger Cascade Brook that also has some impressive but small waterfalls that cascade down through a box ravine. The website linked above to Dixville Notch State Park reports that the trail is closed due to flood damage. However, the trail was open when visited and we did not observe any flood damage.

This picture shows the lower cascades in the background. We are standing some 50 feet above the brook at this location as the box ravine drops precipitously on both sides. It is a fantastic spot both to look at and to take in the smell of the spruce-fir woodland. We had the entire location to ourselves the entire time we were there. Unfortunately, Elsa is beginning to grasp the fact that the Moose may be hiding.

On Saturday we travelled to the Colebrook New Hampshire to the Beaver Brook Falls Natural Area. It is a spectacular waterfall, particularly during spring snowmelt or high water levels. The picture here was taken during moderate flows but is still impressive.
By itself, this is one of the most spectacular, easily accessed waterfalls in the state. There is very little in terms of trails to explore but if you are in the area or just passing by, it is worth the detour. The falls can be reached only a couple of hundred feet from the parking lot.

Later this week, I'll be posting the Newington Conservation Commission's package and agenda for its meeting scheduled for July 5, 2007 at 7 PM at the Town Hall.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

June 7, 2007 Conservation Commission Agenda

The Newington Conservation Commission will meet again on Thursday June 7, 2007 at 7 PM at the Town Hall. A copy of the agenda and package can be downloaded from an FTP link I created here.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Newington resident Michelle Lozuaway has been appointed by the Board of Selectmen and joins the Commission.
  • Allied Continental Development's proposed hotel adjacent to the Spaulding Turnpike/Exit 4 behind the gas station. The Conservation Commission is reviewing the project because the applicants have requested a permit to dredge and fill wetlands from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Wetlands Bureau. Under RSA 482-A:11, III & IV the Commission has the statutory authority to comment on projects and, if the department declines to adopt the Commission's recommendations, it must make detailed findings to support its decision. The package contains the Commission's comments to the NHDES, as well as a Drainage Study that the applicant's consultant, Eckman Engineering, provided in response to questions concerning stormwater management.
  • There is also an excerpt of a report I prepared for the Conservation Commission a year ago when the Department of Transportation's Exit 4 project resulted in significant volumes of turbid stormwater being discharged to directly into Little Bay. This was included because stormwater runoff from the proposed hotel may ultimately end up discharging to the same culverts into Little Bay. The Commission has asked for clarification on this issue.
  • Stormwater pollution is important because, according to the NHDES, stormwater runoff is the leading cause of non-attainment with water quality standards in the state of New Hampshire. Newington's zoning ordinances, however, do not regulate the discharge of stormwater pollution. One of my main goals as chairman of the Commission is to encourage the Town to develop reasonable regulations to address this source of pollution into Great Bay and the Piscataqua River.
  • The package also contains an application to repair the retaining wall and boat launch area at Fox Point. The Town's consultant, Waterfront Engineers, LLC, has been retained by the Board of Selectmen will be presenting the proposal to the Commission. An excerpt of the application is contained in the package. Members of the public are welcome to attend and will have the opportunity to ask questions concerning the proposal.
  • Boiling Springs. The Commission is looking into whether to purchase a conservation easement to protect this prime wetland. The package contains a letter to the PDA Chairman, Art Nickless, and Executive Director Richard Green regarding this matter.

The Commission meetings are open to the public and if there is an environmental or conservation issue that you feel the Town should address, please feel free to contact me or attend our meeting.