Sunday, December 28, 2014

Franklin Annual Report 2014: Conservation Commission

The Franklin Conservation Commission is responsible for promoting and developing the natural resources of Franklin and protecting the watershed resources of Franklin. A large part of the Commission’s attention is directed to administering Massachusetts and Franklin wetland protection laws. Those laws require the Commission to hold public hearings or meetings before issuing a permit to work in or within 100 feet of a wetland, or 200 feet of a perennial stream.

The Commission is comprised of up to seven volunteer residents appointed for three year terms by the Town Administrator. The Commission may also have up to two non-voting associate members. The members of the Commission have diverse professional experience related to environmental science, biology, engineering, landscape design, and project management. Because of their different backgrounds, each commissioner is able to offer a different perspective during the review of applications for a wetland permit that ultimately benefits Franklin.

In November 2013, the Town hired George Russell, AICP, as Conservation Agent. George is a Professional Planner/Conservation Agent with over 30 years of experience in the field. Franklin was well represented at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions in March, with Commissioners attending classes and workshops and talking with other Commissioners from across the state as well as lawyers, ecologists and engineers active in conservation.

In 2012, the EPA adopted regulations to reduce the amount of phosphorus in storm water runoff into the Charles River basin, with Franklin, Bellingham and Milford as the pilot communities. These regulations are in response to the public health threat posed by outbreaks of toxic algae blooms downstream fostered by high levels of phosphorus from storm water runoff. These regulations will require properties with more than two acres of imperious surfaces to improve storm water runoff treatment. Currently these regulations remain at a standstill as the EPA continues to work out the regulatory details. The Commission monitors the status of these regulations while encouraging and advising on appropriate stormwater management practices where applicable in Conservation jurisdiction.

The Commission continues to work on the DelCarte Area (aka the Franklin Reservoirs) off of Pleasant Street. There are a series of seven “structures” (six are dams that had been originally used for cranberry farming, the seventh is a stone wall that beavers had dammed) along Miller brook thru the 100+ acre DelCarte Area. The dams are identified serially from Dam #1 located closest to downtown adjacent to the MBTA Dean station to #6 located furthest downstream, closest to Miller Street. In 2012-3, rehabilitation of Dam #4 was completed and the work was been approved by the State Office of Dam Safety. Several Eagle Scout and school/class projects have been completed in the DelCarte and Dacey Field areas. These projects have helped in the clearing of trails and the erecting of educational signage.

Since the last annual report, the Conservation Commission has received 51 permit applications to work within the area under their permitting jurisdiction. These applications range from the removal of dead trees in a buffer zone, to the construction of 55 single family condominiums in a designed development. The Commission also issued 38 certificate of completion for various projects and granted 5 extensions to allow projects to finish.

The Commission would like to draw the attention of the Town’s residents to the many protected natural areas in the Town and the opportunities for passive recreation they enable:

  • The DelCarte Area, with parking off of Pleasant Street, has recently improved walking trails through woodlands along a series of ponds. A permit has been approved for installation of a canoe launch and an above-water boardwalk to completely connect the trail system; Dam Restoration, DelCarte Recreation Area
  • The Town Forest has good access points off of both Summer Street and Russet Hill Road with a network of walking trails thru woodlands and across Uncas Brook;
  • There is a network of recently improved walking trails that cross Shepards Brook and go thru fields and woods behind the Dacey Recreation Area off Lincoln Street;
  • Indian Rock has good access off of both King Phillip Road and Lost Horse Trail with walking trails thru woodlands near two large vernal pools and to the top of historic Indian Rock;
  • The Metacomet Land Trust owns several pieces of protected land, notably the walking trails off of Bridle Path and The Lady Bug Trail near JFK school;
  • The Franklin State Forest is accessible off of Grove Street and Forge Hill Road and boasts an extensive network of walking and ORV trails;
  • The SNETT trail goes all the way to Douglas. There is a Town parking lot off of Grove Street; (The town has a grant application pending with the state to improve this trail.)
  • The expansive marsh near Interstate 495 exit #17 is the US Army Corps of Engineers Natural Valley Flood Storage Project, preserved to protect against downstream flooding in the Charles River basin. That marsh is along Mine Brook, the largest stream in town, draining about half of Franklin, starting at the extreme south end of Franklin, passing underneath Washington Street, Beaver Street, 495, Grove Street, West Central Street, 495 again, Beech Street, and Pond Street before finally meeting the Charles River on the Medway border.
  • Other significant streams in Franklin include Shepards Brook, Miller Brook, Uncas Brook and Bubbling Brook. Lake Populatic is part of the Charles River, the other navigable ponds in Franklin are Spring (Green’s) Pond, Beaver Pond, and Uncas Pond, the last two of which are listed as Great Ponds by Mass DEP. There are many other natural areas in Franklin waiting to be explored.

The Commission would also like the town residents to be aware of the potential tax savings of M.G. L. Chapter 61 (forest land), 61A (agricultural land) and 61B (recreational land). Such programs are designed to benefit the land owner via reducing the tax burden as well as to preserving and maintaining the quality and quantity of environmentally sensitive and natural areas within the commonwealth.

Conservation Commission Members:
Jeff Livingstone – Chair
Paul Harrington
Marc Depoto - - Vice Chair 
Ravi Pendkar
Mark Cataldo 
Steve Younis
Dayna Gill

Respectfully submitted,

Jeff Livingstone, Chair

floating bridge was added to DelCarte to allow the trails to loop around the pond
floating bridge was added to DelCarte to allow the trails to loop around the pond

Please visit our website for additional information including application forms, and regularly posted
Conservation Commission agendas and meeting minutes at

The full annual report can be obtained from the Town Clerk's office (hard copy) or viewed and/or downloaded from the Franklin website here

Annual reports of prior years can also be found online at

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