Conservation Commission: Hunting Yes; Stands Nailed To Trees, No

The Conservation Commission has decided not to take any action on tree stands until it can be determined that the stands are hurting the trees.
Many of the stands, according to Commissioner Mike Considine, are temporary and use straps to hold them to the tree. Considine said he will inspect the one or two that may be permanently attached to a tree to verify that is what was done.
According to Commission Chairman Deb Lievens, the tree stand issue was raised by a resident who notified the Town Manager of tree stands in the Musquash. The resident said the stands were not in good shape, should not be there, and should be part of a permit system.

Considine said the Town Manager said the Conservation Commission should look into the matter, and that is what was done recently, as reported by the Londonderry Times.
Commissioner Marge Badois asked if a tree stand could be put up in the Musquash without permission as long as it didn’t damage the tree, and Commissioner Mike Speltz said it could.
“Because it’s town land?” Badois asked.
“It’s a state RSA (statute),” Lievens explained.
Speltz said in his view there were three scenarios or options the commission could take.
“One is do nothing,” he said. “You’ve got the tree stands up there. We’re not going to enforce the state’s RSA for them. If the Conservation Officer wants to come in and do it, he can do it. The only disadvantage of that is that you have a citizen that saw a problem and we wouldn’t be responding to it.
“A second option is to put up a sign and tell people you can’t put stands up in here unless you get permission, and they have to be down by Dec. 31,” Speltz continued. “It sounds like the town attorney fears that it could involve us in some liability (and) he would prefer that we don’t do that, but he would let us do that. That has the advantage of responding to this citizen’s concern.”
Speltz said that the third option is not to post a sign, “but we go in and tear down illegal tree stands.”
Considine asked what the commission would do with the stands.
Commissioner Paul Nickerson asked if the stands stay up all year. Considine said quite a few remain all year.
“There’s a few that are just platforms but these are all store bought. They are made of aluminum and can be there 10, 15 years,” Considine said.
Considine said he is concerned that the matter can be misconstrued to give the impression that the Conservation Commission is against hunting in the Musquash, and that is not the case.
Speltz said the forest would not survive without hunting.
“I’m not speaking for everyone here, but no one in the Conservation Commission has ever said they’re against hunting,” Considine said.
Lievens said she had received an email from a resident of Weare who thanked the commission for allowing hunting in the Musquash, because that is how he learned of a doe allotment.
Considine emphasized that the tree stand issue was not a first step toward outlawing hunting in the Musquash.
“Most of those tree stands, nobody knows where they are and really they’re not bothering anybody. They are portable tree stands that are belted to trees,” he said.
Speltz said the tree stand on the trail should not be there for two reasons: “it’s ugly, and nobody should be firing a weapon on a trail.”
Speltz said that perhaps through the newspaper word would get out that the stands were coming down in January, and if the stands had monetary value, the owners would come and get them.
“What we’d like to see is the tree stands go up at the beginning of hunting season and then come down at the end of hunting season,” Considine said.
Speltz made a motion to put up notices that contained language recommended by the town attorney, which would quote the RSA. No one seconded the motion, and it failed.
Considine said he did not agree with the proposed language.
“If you’re going to put up a sign, it should be clear, simple, straightforward: ‘Take the tree stands down after Dec. 31,’” Considine said.
Considine said he suggested doing nothing.
“I think it’s one tree stand on a trail that I think is offensive and prompted the comment,” Considine said.
“We can take that stand down if it turns out that it is nailed into the tree anytime. So one course of action could be to hang a note on that stand: ‘Dear owner, we’re going to take this stand down in January,’” Speltz said.
“If it turns out that this stand is not nailed to the tree, then we can’t do anything legally,” Lievens noted.
Considine said that he would look at the stand and see how it is attached, and if it is nailed into the tree, the note suggested by Speltz would be attached to it.
At the Town Council meeting Monday night, Smith said the only action that would be taken would be to notify tree stand owners by tagging the stand if it “punctured” a tree. If it were not removed, the Conservation Commission would do so.
In other business at the Tuesday, Dec. 10 meeting:
• Commissioner Truda Bloom said she and Speltz had been working on a spreadsheet that would make monitoring of easements easier and more user friendly, and would be online. Speltz said it would streamline the process.

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