, Derry, New Hampshire

October 24, 2013

Councilors question town forest cleaning

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — One man’s plan to clean up the town’s forest needs a bit more clarification from town boards.

Town sexton Kent Allen has come before town groups for several months giving details of his proposed cleanup plan for the town forest near the Town Common.

But town councilors want a bit more information before allowing the project to get started.

Allen told councilors he got a green light from the Heritage Commission, but then later on Conservation Commission members took exception to some things he wanted to get done.

“I’m now asking, ‘Who’s driving the bus?’” Allen said.

He said he is now wondering what the next step is to begin the cleanup as there is now some dissent among town groups as to what he is allowed or not allowed to do.

He wants to focus on an area near a newly blazed trail in the forest that connects the Town Common area to Mack’s orchard property.

Conservation Commission members didn’t want Allen’s work to go much beyond the trail area in the forest, as it may disrupt valuable animal habitat, including underbrush around fallen trees.

Town Councilor Tom Dolan, the liaison to the Conservation Commission, said that group’s members wanted to make sure any clearing project in the forest didn’t take away from those valuable areas.

“They didn’t want the cleanup to go much beyond the trail area and to preserve habitat of species who live in the underbrush around the fallen tree trunks,” he said.

Officials also were concerned about some potential dangers to volunteers when tree-clearing work is involved and what sort of liability the town might have.

Allen said he hopes to continue the town’s efforts to clear out invasive ornamental bittersweet, an ongoing project in the town’s forested areas.

Councilors suggested speaking more about the forest effort with town forestry expert Charles Moreno before moving forward.

Chairman John Farrell said that would ensure things would be done right.

“We will see where we are and try to make a good decision,” he said.