Ashby Conservation Commission
The duties and responsibilities of a
Conservation Commission are spelled out in the Conservation
Commission Act (HB chapter 18.9). Under this Act a municipal
Conservation Commission is the official agency specifically
charged with the protection of a communitys natural
resources. Some of the first powers granted to Commissions in
1957 were the planning, acquiring and managing of open space and
encouraging and monitoring conservation and agricultural
In 1972, Conservation Commissions were given
the responsibility for administering the Wetlands Protection Act
(Mass General Law Chapt. 131 Paragraph 40). The Wetlands
Protection Act is described in HB Chapter 12 and the text printed
in HB 18.34. You can read these for yourself at:
Wetlands are an important resource to Ashby.
They protect, filter and provide the high quality of drinking
water in our wells. They support fish in our streams and ponds.
They provide the habitat and food sources for the birds and
animals that make Ashby a unique place to live. And, they keep
large tracts of land open and undeveloped so that our children
and grandchildren might also experience the quality of life that
we enjoy in Ashby.
In a continuing effort to protect the wetlands
and administer the Wetlands Protection Act, the Commission has
accomplished a number of things over the course of the last year
that you may or may not be aware of:
- The Conservation Commission built a short
wetlands education trail ending in two small boardwalks
into the sphagnum moss swamp at the back of the property.
Since the trail building day in July, the beavers also
had a dam building day (or days). The boardwalks now
appear as though floating in a pond rather than
positioned over a sphagnum moss swamp.
- Assisted Landowners and prospective buyers
in identifying existing wetlands on their property that
are protected by the Wetlands Protection Act.
- Over 80 site visits were conducted. Many
of the site walks were an informal response to landowner
questions about what they can do on their land and what
might be considered a protectable wetland. The Commission
is eager to assist landowners in their decisions about
whether and how to proceed with a building project near
- More than 15 Determinations of
Applicability were issued. This is a formal response to a
request to determine whether or not a project is required
to make a filing under the Wetlands Protection Act.
- Assisted builders in planning and
completing their projects while protecting Ashby Wetland
Orders of Conditions are recorded
on the deeds of these properties. During the year
only 5 requests were made for similar Conditions
to be removed from deeds because the projects
were completed according to plan. The Commission
would like to remind property owners that Orders
of Condition are valid for only 3 years. After
that time, they may be extended, if a request is
made in writing. Or, if the project is complete,
the commission will issue a Certificate of
Compliance to allow the landowner to have the
Order removed from their deed.
- 18 hearings were held for Notices of
Intent to work within a resource area or its buffer zone.
- 18 Orders of Condition outlining how the
projects are to be conducted to minimize their impact
upon our wetlands were issued.
- The Commission has responded to calls for
emergency actions from residents.
- 1 new Enforcement Order was issued in
response to a report of a wetland violation - filling,
dredging or altering a wetland without a valid Order of
- The Commission is pursuing legal action on
an outstanding Enforcement Order.
- Have worked with the State Forester to
review and manage more than 9 cutting plans and sites in
and near wetlands in an effort to reduce or prevent
damage to the wetlands.
- The responsibility of the Commission, as
spelled out in the Conservation Commission Act (HB 18.9)
is to protect the community's natural resources. In that
effort, the Commission has worked with the following
Boards and Offices within the Town and out of Town on
conservation issues over the past year:
- Ashby Highway Department - to plan road
resurfacing in sensitive wetland areas and repair
drainage culverts that allow wetlands to pass under
roadways without damage to either the wetland or the
- Ashby Fire Department to write a
plan for maintenance of fire ponds over the next 3 years.
- Board of Health - to certify wetlands
boundaries that might impact proposed new septic systems
or replacement systems
- Planning Board - to suggest and/or review
revisions to zoning regulations
- Board of Assessors - to identify State,
Town and Chapter 61 lands on the Assessor Maps. The
Assessors have also provided invaluable assistance in
setting up mapping software on the Commissions new
- Building Inspector - to monitor building
sites for wetlands violations
- Board of Selectmen - to consult on issues
of open space acquisition and planning
- Gravel Removal Board - to participate as a
member in the resolution of issues and disputes
- Ashby State Park Review and
permitting of proposed projects and extension of existing
- Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and
Wildlife Assist in the acquisition of properties
to enlarge the existing area of protected lands in Ashby.
- Nashua River Watershed Association
meetings of area Conservation Commission members for
sharing of resources, ideas and programs.
- The Conservation Commission applied for
and received a Self-Help grant of $250,000 for the
purchase of the old Mt. Watatic Ski Area. The funds were
available to the town because of the work done last year
by the Open Space Committee in writing an Open Space
Plan. An Open Space Plan is a requirement for eligibility
for State Self-Help Funding (HB 8.1, 8.2) for open space
acquisition by the town.
- Negotiations are still underway for
purchase of the property. An alternative property on
Blood Hill is also being investigated and documented in
case negotiations for the Watatic property become
- You may have noticed flyers for hikes
through the town. Co-sponsored by the Ashby Conservation
Commission, the Open Space Committee and the Ashby Land
Trust, these hikes are designed to allow the citizens of
Ashby to experience some of Ashbys Open Spaces
first hand. Landowners have graciously given permission
for this group to hike across their lands. A high
percentage of the lands are State owned or in the Chapter
61 programs. The landowners incur no liability during
these hikes since there are no fees charged for
- The Commission has maintained a membership
in the Massachusetts Association of Conservation
Commissions for over 13 years. The Commissioners have
attended educational workshops sponsored by MACC in
Wetlands Protections, Plant and Soil Identification,
Wetland Replication Techniques, Open Space Protection,
and a variety of workshops offered at the annual
conference in Worcester.
- Commission members are also active in the
Nashua River Watershed Conservation Commission Alliance,
the Nashua River Watershed Land Trust Alliance, the Ashby
Land Trust, and the Open Space Committee.
- There are currently four Conservation
Commissioners. There is one opening for a new
Commissioner under the current limit of five. This year,
if there is enough interest in the town, we hope to
expand to seven members. They serve for a 3-year term.
The current members are:
There are currently five Associate Members
of the Conservation Commission. They are:
- Roberta Flashman - Chair - Commission
expires in 2001.
- Robert Leary - Vice Chair - Commission
expires in 2000.
- Robert Bertram - Treasurer - Commission
expires in 2001.
- Paula Packard - Commission expires in
- Janet Flinkstrom resigned this year to
assume a position on the Board of Selectmen.
- Jim Stacy
- Tom Mikes
- Ollie Mutch
- Jane Mutch
- Dondi LaRue