February 21, 2023 Cons. Comm. Minutes

Conservation Commission
Tuesday, February 21 at 6:30 P.M.
South Hero Worthen Library Community Room
and via Zoom

Meeting Minutes

Members attending: Bob Fireovid, Bridget Kerr, Mark Naud, Dave Hobbs, Cynthia Kelley (via Zoom)
Member not attending: Sue Straight
Public Attendees: Tony Kay, Amy Kittiver; and (via Zoom) Sandy Gregg, Nancy Tracy, Joan Falcao, Emily Alger SHLT

1. Call to Order – Bridget called the meeting to order at 6:35p.

2. Public Input (items not on the agenda) – N/A

3. Finalize the Agenda – Bob asked that we address the Scenic Survey first.

4. Scenic Survey for Town Plan: Sandy Gregg, Planning Commission Chair, was invited to share her experience with past town scenic survey – Sandy shared her historic recollection of the prior scenic survey and recommended that the CC could take on the Scenic Survey as part of their work plan and for the new Town Plan. Emily inquired what the purpose of the survey? Cynthia reiterated the query about the survey’s use. The consensus is that the designated scenic areas might be protected by some future development regulation. What is the scope of the survey? All of the town with publicly accessible viewsheds. Timeline would be whatever suits the CC. Cynthia suggested the Community Values event will inform the scenic survey. Priority will be Community Values event at this point. The scope of the survey is not clear at this point. Cynthia suggested we take our time on this important work and add it to our work plan.

5. Community Values Mapping Event—Planning & Facilitation – Bridget introduced the dates for the planned (CVME) event: Tuesday May 2d at Worthen Library, with a follow up exclusively remote event on Tuesday May 9th. Jens Hilke, VT ANR, has provided support for the CC to plan for the event, including recommendations for 8 facilitators. Tony inquired about the goal of the Community Values Mapping event. Bridget will email Tony a sample CVME report from another VT town, previously shared with CC members. Bob inquired about the focus of the facilitated breakout groups. Jens will hopefully be available for the next meeting in March to bring clarity to the event and what is required of the facilitators. Emily requested that the SHLT be included with the CC as a partner to support implementation of the values mapping event.

6. Town Tree/Forest Plan – Bridget discussed the opportunity to create a forest plan, perhaps bringing in Anne Zolotas to discuss her role as Tree Warden, and include Nancy Patch, County Forester, to discuss the issues. Emily shared a few tree-related events of the SHLT – Pre-planting/reforestation in areas impacted by Emerald Ash Borer at South Hero Recreation Park this summer, and reiterated the issues with invasive species and deer populations browsing emerging native species. Cynthia enthusiastically supported the idea and also attending the Environmental Leadership training program.

7. Yearly Work Plan vs. adding “What We Do” to Mission Statement – The commission discussed the concept and Bridget shared Jens comments regarding what we do and how we do it that could be provided by an annual work plan. Bridget suggested possible items/goals of a work plan could include a forest plan and water quality issues. The CC anticipates the CVME will inform and prioritize the annual workplan.

8. Recruitment – The CC has 6 initial members, and can have up to 9 members. Bridget drafted a public notice for interested community members to join the CC, as members or as public supporters in various committees that may be created to do the work of the CC. Tony inquired about the role of the CC members, and what is expected. Cynthia responded that our focus should be balanced and inclusive, including a link to the roles of the CC members. Mark suggested we consider describing how we accomplish our mission by gathering information and creating surveys and reports regarding the resources of the town, and using them to implement the mission of the commission.
Emily suggested treating the public notice as a job advertisement to invite community members to join diversity of the CC and its important work in an approachable, fun, and enjoyable way. It was agreed that being explicit in what is expected is an important component. Dave suggested adding some language to link our landing page on the Town website. Amy inquired about how the CC addresses diversity in a fairly homogenous community. There was a discussion that diversity is gender, age, socio-economic, accessibility, and other demographics beyond race. Bridget asked that members email any comments or edits for the recruitment statement soon.

9. Approval of Minutes from January 17 meeting – Bob moved; Dave 2d. Unanimously approved.

10. Preparation for Next Meeting – Bridget will attempt to have Jens attend for CVME and agenda follow-up items.

11. Adjourn – The meeting was unanimously adjourned at 8:15p. Bob moved; Dave 2d.