Sunday, December 15, 2013

Planning for the future of DCR lands on the Cape, including Hawksnest

There will be a meeting hosted by the Friends of Hawksnest to discuss local input to DCR's planning process:

 Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 pm.
First Parish Church in Brewster, on rte 124 just off of 6A, in the church's barn building, accessible from the parking lot. 

Anyone with an interest in the conservation of Hawksnest is invited.  Please RSVP to Suzanne Ryan,, or 774-208-8627. 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Background--the planning process

On Dec. 5, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation held a public forum to introduce their process for planning for State lands on the Cape and Islands.  Below are John Wittmann's notes from the meeting.  Link to a newspaper story on the meeting.

The meeting was held at the Cape Cod Community College. There were around 20 people in attendance and almost half were employees of the State. There were only a few that were actual public.

The meeting's purpose was to introduce us to the process that will be used to create a Resource Management Plan for the Nickerson Complex.

The Nickerson Complex is the name the State gives to all the land managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). This includes many properties across the Cape and Islands, including Hawksnest State Park.

Handout 2 from the forum – map of Nickerson Complex properties.

Resource Management Plans are required under state law and are being created for the 40+ “complexes” in the State. They are only doing a few a year. It is now our turn. These plans are designed to provide guidelines, restraints, and directions for the development of properties within a given area. (See section below that gives a fuller description).

Steps to the planning process
  1. Initial public forum – this is what the 12/5 meeting was for.
  2. Time for public input by email, letter, or phone. This time period ends on 10 January 2014. They may accept more input after this deadline
  3. Creation of the plan document by the DCR through the winter and early Spring
  4. Initial introduction of DCR's plan in a public meeting in the Spring of 2014.  Document will be posted on line at the same time as this meeting
  5. After the Spring presentation there will be a 30-day public comment period.
  6. The plan will be revised and posted in Summer of 2014 at which time is will be voted on by the Conservation commission in the state (?) and assumed to be passed. 
The plan is supposed to consider the “past, present, and future of the property.”

Each individual property will have its own section within the plan.

Each plan looks at all 3 types of “land stewardship zoning” within each area. Every square foot of an area is delineated as one of these 3 zoning areas.  There is a separate document attached that has more information regarding these land stewardship zones.

Each plan is to include all other current environmental information. I assume that means they will include information from the Harwich Bio map report that was created in 2012. (attached)

My comments

These plans do not come with funding of any type but are often used as guidelines for future funding and growth so it is important to be involved at the ground floor of the process. It will also be important to review the draft plan when it is created and give comments. They seemed very open to comments and said each one would be read.

During the public comment section of the meeting, moderated by Andy Backman, director of Regional Planning, a comment was made by someone who gives walks around Hawksnest and was concerned about lack of trails and knowing what part is private and which parts are public.

Andy mentioned that one should be careful walking around Hawksnest since parts of it are part of the “Natural Heritage Program.”  This program is part of the DCR and includes the MA endangered species. This in turn led me to the MA Bio Map of 2012 which delineates all the areas of concern across the State. This in turn led to the “Harwich Bio Map” (attached). It seems we have some threatened and critical species at Hawksnest. Andy said this should be included in the plan automatically, but we should check to make sure. It also seems that using some of the language of that plan should be used in our public comments.

Links from my web browsing, to help us understand the process better...
DCR Mission Statement

The following is from DCR's website, and seems to be a good talking point in comments in any comments we make on the process.

To protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources for the well-being of all.

In meeting today's responsibilities and planning for tomorrow, DCR's focus is on:
  • Improving outdoor recreational opportunities and natural resource conservation
  • Restoring and improving our facilities
  • Expanding public involvement in carrying out DCR's mission, and
  • Establishing first-rate management systems and practices.
The health and happiness of people across Massachusetts depend on the accessibility and quality of our green infrastructure - our natural resources, recreational facilities, and great historic landscapes.  The DCR continues to improve the vital connection between people and the environment.

Handout 2 from the forum.  Click to enlarge.

No comments:

Post a Comment