ERT Update

ERT Experts Tour Boulder Knoll
by Josh Morgan
Cheshire Herald Staff

An Environmental Review Team (ERT) came to Cheshire on Thursday May 24, to review the Boulder Knoll farm and to compile a report about the area. The team comes by request from the Town Council, which is looking for more information on the property. Environmental Planner Suzanne Simone said that this was just a preliminary walkthrough and that a full report won’t be complete for several months. “The full report is going to be over 100-pages long,” Simone said. “So it will take a while to complete.” The seven-person ERT team reviewed the property to see the geology, the wetlands, the species and the vegetation of Boulder Knoll. Simone explained that they want to gather more information before any decisions are made on the property. “We want to make sure that we are not impeding or hindering any existing habitats,” Simone said. She added that “nothing is planned or being developed” as of yet, as they are waiting for the full report from the ERT. Simone said, however, that as part of the state funding used to purchase the land, they “must keep public access and use for the property.” Currently on the property, there are hiking trails for the public to use. Simone said that there’s a kiosk at the beginning of the trail with information about the trails and area. The Friends of Boulder Knoll, a local non-profit organization, had urged the town to request an ERT to come and research the property earlier this year. According to the organization’s website, some of the goals they are hoping to see accomplished at Boulder Knoll are to “turn the property into an open space for passive recreation, to produce locally grown food and provide educational opportunities to people of all ages.” Kim Stoner, president of the Friends of Boulder Knoll, said she is “concerned about invasive species moving in” onto the property. Stoner added that the organization did not attend the ERT because of proposals that they have submitted to the town are deemed “a conflict of interest” but said she is “hopeful we can continue to find ways to be useful for the town.” The town’s management plan seems to be in agreement with the Friends of Boulder Knoll, stating, “the properties shall be managed for a combination of public access and passive recreation, wetland and upland habitat conservation, and active agricultural purposes.” Stoner explained that besides having goals for the Boulder Knoll property, she wants to “educate the community about preserving farmland” and “producing local agriculture” across the state. Stoner added they would be holding adult education forums, which would help “educate the community on farmland preservation.” The three farms on the property, which make up the Boulder Knoll area, cover over 150 acres of land, which can be hilly, flat, wooded, open, wet or dry and everything in between. The property does not permit the use of ATVs, hunting, camping, or having a fire. You can however take your dog for a stroll on the property. The Boulder Knoll area makes up the town’s largest open space of land and was purchased separately between 1994 and 2002. The Boulder Knoll property consists of the Lassen Farm, the Jackman Farm and the Blauvelt property, and it is located on the north and south sides of Boulder Road. The 35.23-acre Jackman Farm includes one house and some storage buildings. The 93.5-acre Lassen Farm includes buildings and homes and was once a dairy farm from the early part of the 20th century until March 2000. The 19.5-acre Blauvelt property was formerly used/leased by the Lassen family to grow silage.

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