Land Management Plan for Blood Hill, Town of Ashby

Ashby Conservation Commission

  • Robert Leary, Chairman
  • Roberta Flashman
  • Robert Bertram
  • Paula Packard
  • George Bauman

Table of Contents

  1. Purpose of Land Management Plan
  2. Self-Help Grant Program Requirements
  3. Fitchburg Drinking Water Supply protection Requirements
  4. The Management Committee
  5. Land Use
  6. Land Management
  7. Parking
  8. Maintenance and Trail Management
  9. Management Costs
  10. Liability
  11. Signage
  12. Maps

I. Purpose of the Land Management Plan

The purpose of this plan is to formally and clearly define the intended uses of the Blood Hill parcel of land, the intervention necessary to perpetuate those uses, the parties involved in the managing of the site and the system for managing costs incurred.

This document, and all amended versions of this document will be sent to the Ashby Board of Selectmen, the Conservation Commission, the Town Clerk and the state Division of Conservation Services.

II.                   Self-Help grant Program Requirements

a.       The property must be open to entry and use by all persons who are otherwise eligible regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, disability or sex.

b.      Discrimination on the basis of residence, including preferential reservation, membership or annual permit systems or user fees is prohibited unless this provision is waived by the Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.  The Secretary or designee will approve or deny all proposed fee or access limiting systems.

c.       Property shall be operated and maintained in accordance with standards and guidelines of the Division.  In accordance with the applicable program contract, participants may impose reasonable limits on the type and extent of use of areas and facilities as necessary for maintenance and preservation.

d.      Property shall be retained and used at all times for open space purposes in accordance with M.G.L.c.132A, paragraph 11, and 1977,c.933. Property shall not be wholly or partly converted to other than public outdoor recreation or conservation purposes without the approval of the Director.  Converted property shall comply with Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution and shall be replaced with land of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness.  The Director may disapprove conversion requests or reject property substitutions.

III.                Fitchburg Drinking Water Supply Protection Requirements

Some of the parcel drains through wetlands and streams into the Fitchburg Reservoir.  The Ashby Conservation Commission shall work with and be receptive to concerns for public health and protection of the drinking water supply.

IV.             The Land Management Committee

a.       A 7-person Land Management Committee comprised of the following members will establish policies and be responsible for guidance and oversight for the management of the parcel.

i.         One member from the Ashby Conservation Commission.  The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2004.  Thereafter, the term of the Conservation Commission member shall be 3 years.

ii.       One member appointed by the Ashby Board of Selectmen, upon recommendation from the Ashby Conservation Commission.  The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2003.  Thereafter, the term of the Selectmen appointed member shall be 3 years.

iii.      One member appointed by the Ashby Board of Selectmen, selected from the general voting population at large.  The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2002.  Thereafter, the term of the Selectmen appointed member shall be 3 years.

iv.     One member from the Ashby Open Space Committee. The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2003.  Thereafter, the term of the Ashby Open Space Committee member shall be 3 years.

v.       One member from the Fitchburg Water Department to be appointed annually by the Fitchburg Water Department.

vi.     One member from the Ashby Land Trust. The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2002.  Thereafter, the term of the Ashby Land Trust member shall be 3 years.

vii.    One member from the North County Land Trust.  The initial member shall serve until June 30, 2004.  Thereafter, the term of the North County Land Trust member shall be 3 years.

b.      In the event that any member of the Committee departs before the expiration of his/her term, a successor shall be appointed to serve the remainder of the term.  This appointment shall be in the same manner and by the same Boards that appointed the departing member.

Except for extraordinary circumstances, any committee member who has failed to attend three consecutive scheduled meetings of the Land Management Committee shall be considered to have resigned, and a replacement shall be appointed as set forth above, to serve the unexpired term.

c.       Management provided by the Land Management Committee shall include but not be limited to:

1.      enforcing the provisions of allowed and prohibited land uses;

2.      providing for construction and maintenance of trails, signs, parking, forest management, fire prevention and control, hay field management;

3.      setting land use policies consistent with all provisions of this document;

4.      hiring contractors or engaging volunteers to implement all of the above management practices.  Each contract let by the committee shall have a total value not to exceed $2500, and the Ashby Conservation Commission shall be the contracting authority for contracts in excess of $2500.  State bidding and prevailing wage laws and all other laws shall be complied with;

5.      walking the land a minimum of four(4) times a year by at least one member of the Land Management Committee;

6.      preparing an annual state of the land report;

7.      preparing an annual budget request and accounting for all income and expenses;

8.      providing for educational and recreational events;

9.      seeking and administering grants.

d.      The Land Management Committee will meet as needed during the start-up phase; thereafter, the committee will meet at least once annually to review the Land Management Plan and consider policy issues that may arise from time to time. The Land Management Committee is a public body and shall comply with all Open Meeting Laws and Conflict of Interest Laws.  All meetings shall be posted and open to the public.  The public will have a chance to speak and minutes will be taken.

V.              Land Use

Subject to the prohibited and allowable uses specified in Section VI and the Conservation Restriction, the land use will be conservation and passive recreation only.

VI.                 Land Management

The following acts and uses are prohibited on the premises:

1.      Possessing alcoholic beverages or controlled substances;

2.      Constructing or placing of any building, tennis court, landing strip, mobile home, swimming pool, septic system, road, fence, billboard or other advertising display, utility, conduit, pole, tower, windmill, temporary or permanent structure or facility on, above or below ground, or sign or gate, or asphalt or concrete pavement other than those erected or authorized by the Land Management Committee;

3.      Mining, excavating, dredging or removing from the premises of soil, loam, peat, gravel, sand, rock or other natural deposit;

4.      Dumping or placing of soil or other substances on the ground as landfill, or dumping or placing of vehicle bodies or parts, junk, refuse, trash, solid or chemical waste or unsightly or offensive materials;

5.      Activities detrimental to drainage, flood control, water conservation, erosion control or soil conservation;

6.      Use of motor vehicles, including but not limited to cars, trucks, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles;

7.      Camping;

8.      Building of fires;

9.      Cutting, removing or otherwise destroying trees or other vegetation;

10.    Any other use of the premises or activity that would impair significant conservation and/or passive recreation uses.

Exceptions to otherwise Prohibited Acts and Uses subject to the prior authorization by the Land Management Committee:

1.      Unpaved trail maintenance to preserve the conditions of the premises;

2.      Cutting or removing of trees for trail clearance, parking areas and in accordance with a timber management plan approved by The Land Management Committee.

3.      Cutting Hay and spreading fertilizer and lime for preservation of the hay fields in their current state.  This is to be done in such a manner as to preserve wildlife within the fields, including, but not limited to avoiding areas marked as nesting areas or wetlands.

4.      Use of motor vehicles for harvesting timber or hay in accordance with management plans approved by The Land Management Committee or as may be reasonably required by police or firefighters;

5.      Use of all-terrain vehicles, handicapped vehicles or snowmobiles on designated trails only;

6.      Camping and associated building of fires only with written approval of The Land Management Committee for limited times during the year.

7.      Erection of signs authorized by The Land Management Committee to educate the public about the conservation values protected and any limitations relating to public access.

                Allowable Uses:

1.      All people are welcome from ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset;

2.      Passive recreation and low impact uses are allowed such as hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, picnicking, mountain biking and environmental education programs subject to further regulation by The Land Management Committee;

3.      Within forested areas, in accordance with an approved timber management plan, selective pruning and cutting to maintain trails or to prevent, control or remove: hazards, disease, insect damage, fire or invasive species or to enhance wildlife habitat;

4.      Activities designed for and in conjunction with the public use of the premises for passive recreation and education, including but not limited to: the placing of interpretive signs and benches; the placing of gates, fences and regulatory signs to direct and control visitors; and the construction, maintenance and marking of trails.  Trails shall be unpaved except for a small section to allow for wheel chair access to lower elevations of the property;

5.      Hunting must comply with the Town of Ashby bylaws regarding hunting and the use of firearms. Temporary deer stands may be used, but must be removed at the end of the day of use.  No use of screw-in steps or spikes is permitted.

VII.              Parking

Parking will be permitted in the designated lot off Erickson Road.  No parking will be allowed on Luke Road while Mrs. Wiita survives.  At such time of her demise, a parking area will be created for 6 cars at the end of Luke Road.

VIII.           Maintenance and Trail Management

The Land Management Committee is mandated to prepare an annual state of the land report.  The annual state of the land report shall be submitted to both the Conservation Commission and the Board of Selectmen and will be prepared in time to be included in the annual report of Ashby.

Trail maintenance may consist of clearing of fallen trees and branches, filling or stabilizing rutted or eroded areas, and extraction of trash.

Trail maintenance work can be delegated or subcontracted.

Trails will not cause erosion or soil damage.

Trails will be prohibited in areas of critical habitat.

Trail maintenance shall include a regular spring walk through every trail to inventory storm damage, record trail obstacles and schedule maintenance work.

The large field located on this property is predominantly dry except for a small portion of the southeast corner, which is a wet meadow. This wet area has obviously been mowed in the past. Mowing will be prohibited where bobolink or other field nesting birds are located. These nesting areas will also be clearly marked each spring.  The Conservation Commission wants to maintain the open character of the field with minimal impact to wildlife.

A ten-year silviculture plan may be submitted at a later date. Forestry operations may be allowed on upland areas with minimal slope. The Conservation Commission will reserve the right to stipulate, with input from the forester, that special equipment and/or techniques will be used to minimize damage to residual trees, existing resource areas, soils that can not support heavy equipment, or critical areas. If any rare or endangered species are located on this property, the Conservation Commission will reserve the right to deny access to these areas for silviculture.

IX.        Management Costs

The Land Management Committee will prepare an annual statement of income and expenditures that shall be submitted to the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and the Conservation Commission.  A sum of money to be determined in conjunction with these three bodies will be annually appropriated into a line item within the Conservation Commission’s budget.

X.              Liability

The Land Management Committee shall keep a log of hazards that the Committee is made aware of and actions taken to rectify those hazards.

XI.                 Signage

As a Self-Help project, the parcel must be designated as such by a permanent sign which identifies the project as a cooperative venture between the Conservation Commission and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  This sign must be permanent and clearly visible.  The sign will be placed at the access to the property from Erickson Road.

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