GROTON — Restless canines are again the reason why the owners of a local patch of open space must close a popular walking trail in order to conduct restoration work intended to ensure the stability of land bordering the Nashua River.
“We have been looking at this for quite a while,” Groton Conservation Trust landscape architect Robert Pine told members of the Conservation Commission last Tuesday night.
The problem, said Pine, was the same one that representatives from the New England Forestry Foundation had run into a few years before when property manager Richard Muehlke approached the commission for clearance to conduct limited restoration work along land it owned at Groton Place totaling some 54 acres.
At the time, Muehlke said that after years of residents taking their pet dogs for walks to the river, serious erosion problems had developed along a part of the steep bank sloping down to the water forcing the owners to reseed the area in order to hold it together.
Although not intended as a “dog park,” Muehlke said at the time that NEFF did not wish to prohibit residents from bringing their pets when walking the property so for that reason, placed trash barrels at strategic spots along the trail as well as a station equipped with a “mitt” dispenser for use by owners to pick up after their dogs.
And though those efforts may have solved the problem for Groton Woods, unfortunately it seems not to have helped conditions further along the trail where it leads into the 146-acre Sabine Woods property owned by the Groton Conservation Trust.
There, dogs have continued to gambol and frolic along the Trust’s own stretch of the river wearing down the embankment and tearing up sensitive plant growth there.
Eventually hoping to restore the entire 1,500 foot length of embankment located within the Conservation Trust’s Sabine Woods property, Pine said the several-year project would begin with laying down netting on the bank to help hold soil in place while the slope is reseeded in different varieties of indigenous plants.
In particular, said Pine, his plan called for planting different kinds of plants at different levels each according to its proximity to the water.
Pine also suggested the possibility of relocating the existing walking trail further away from the river.
“We will stabilize all the banks one way or another,” Pine assured commissioners at their meeting of April 26.
Not unfriendly to the Trust’s intentions, commissioners expressed some concerns including the possible use of signage asking owners to curb their dogs.
In the end, commissioners voted in favor of the proposition under condition that a design plan for the work be submitted and that Pine seek some advice on the project from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Also last Tuesday night, the ConsCom was scheduled to discuss plans by the Woodle Family Residential Trust to develop a portion of its property off Tavern Road at Lost Lake, but the public hearing was postponed pending a visit to look over the site.
The development plan was made public at a recent meeting of the Planning Board by Trust attorney Robert Collins when it was revealed that the property can legally be divided into a number of buildable lots.
But declining to take advantage of a zoning bylaw that would allow them to build up to nine homes on the property (the largest undeveloped tract in the area), the owners have decided to preserve as much of the 19-acre parcel as possible.
As a result, the Trust has proposed the creation of only six new lots of .5-1.5 acres apiece leaving the remaining 12.3 acres with its existing log home and stone boathouse intact. The lodge stands on high ground overlooking 1,200 feet of shoreline that the owners intend to protect with a conservation restriction, along with the majority of the remaining lot.
Should such a scheme be approved by the town, the owners of the lodge would continue to have control over the entire parcel but through the conservation restriction, the Conservation Commission would have oversight responsibility to make sure the protected portions were left undisturbed.
Tuesday’s public hearing on the issue was continued until May 7.