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Shirley receives grant for community forest planning and education


SHIRLEY — The Shirley Conservation Commission announced recently that it has received a $2,137 grant from the Urban and Community Forestry Program of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Another $2,823 will be contributed locally.

The Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) provided assistance in writing the grant application. Planning and Education Sustainability Grants are offered to municipalities to support projects that result in a significant and sustained enhancement in the community’s capacity for forestry management.

The grant will allow the town to produce a Forest Management Plan for the Pumpkin Brook Link Conservation Area. This beautiful 138-acre parcel is located in the northern part of Shirley, off Townsend Road. It abuts the Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area on the east, which is managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The property was acquired in 2000 and is managed by the Shirley Conservation Commission.

The Forest Management Plan will be finalized by June 2006, and will include resource inventory input from a certified professional forester, boundary marking by volunteers, geographic positioning system (GPS) and global information system (GIS) work, writing of the final plan, and a public forum to introduce the Forest Management plan to Shirley residents. The Conservation Commission will seek input from the public at its regular public meetings. Ideas and suggestions will be solicited from individuals in town who use the land for various recreational pursuits. A separate presentation will include a review of the different possible timber harvesting methods, from draft horses and oxen to the latest large equipment. The Forest Management Plan may or may not recommend some harvesting on the site.

Anne Gagnon, conservation administrator, will manage the Conservation Commission Chairperson Denise Braukmiller said, “The process of writing this plan should help the commission become better, more effective land stewards. It will do that by educating the commission, as well as the general public, on the management issues of this 138-acre site. It will also inform the commission and the public on harvesting methods that could be used on other public and private sites throughout the Town.”

According to Rick Muehlke, land programs assistant at the NRWA, “Obtaining and carrying out forest management plans are the keys to having undeveloped open spaces remain as such, and for these forests to perform their most important public function, which is providing high quality water available to all.”

For information contact Anne Gagnon, Shirley conservation administrator, at (978) 425-2600, ext. 245.