Saturday, February 10, 2024

Annual Report Of The Conservation Commission: FY 2023 Report

The Franklin Conservation Commission is responsible for promoting and protecting the Natural and Wetland Resources within the Town of Franklin, including Rivers, Streams, Vernal Pools, Habitat, and Threatened and Endangered Species.

The Commission is composed of seven volunteer residents appointed for three year terms by the Town Council. Current Commission members have diverse professional experience related to environmental science, biology, engineering, and project management. Because of their differing backgrounds, each Commissioner is able to offer a unique perspective during the review of wetland permit applications. This diversity in experience ultimately benefits Franklin and its associated Resources.

Franklin has continuously been represented at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC), Massachusetts Association of Wetland Scientists (AMWS), Society of Wetland Scientists - New England Chapter (SWS), and the Society of Ecological Restoration. During the MACC annual conference, Commissioners can further their education with classes and workshops, and are able to collaborate with other Commissioners from across the state; as well as scientists, ecologists, engineers, and lawyers active in conservation. Newly appointed, Commissioner Livingstone holds a seat on the Board for MACC; and Agent Goodlander maintains a seat on the Outreach Committee for SWS and is Co-Chair for the Program/Education Committee for AMWS.

Overall, the Department of Planning and Community Development (Conservation) provides administrative and technical support to the Commission.

Permitting of Work within or Adjacent to Wetlands Resources
The Franklin Conservation Commission is the primary authority for administering the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act and the Franklin Wetlands Protection Bylaw and corresponding Regulations. These laws and regulations require permits to work in or within Wetland Resource Areas, including Habitat, as well as within the 100-foot Buffer Zone to a Wetland Resource; in or within the 100-foot Buffer Zone to the 100-year Floodplain; or in or within the 200-foot Riverfront Area to a Perennial Stream.
During FY22, the Conservation Commission received 57 permit applications to work within areas under their permitting jurisdiction. Five of these applications are still being permitted for FY23 and one of these applications has been denied. The Commission also issued Certificates of Compliance and Permit Extensions for previously permitted projects, with three Certificates of Compliance denied.

The table below is a summary of Conservation Commission activity during FY22:

Conservation Commission activity during FY22
Conservation Commission activity during FY22

Each permit application has associated local filing fees which must be paid in full prior to permit approval. These fees pay for a wide array of wetland protection projects, including treatment at the DelCarte Conservation Area, plantings of native species, and even a summer internship for a Franklin High School student. Thank you, Rex Cinelli, for all of your hard work this past summer!

Public hearings continue to be held in the Council Chambers in a hybrid meeting style.

Open Space and Recreation Plan
Throughout FY22, the Conservation Commission and Agent were tasked with drafting the 2023 Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP). An OSRP is best described as a guiding document through which a community can plan for the future of its conservation and recreation resources. It is an accumulation of public participation, stakeholder engagement, and goals and objectives identified as most important to the community.

To facilitate this community engagement, the Commission connected with residents in a variety of ways, including emails, a citizen questionnaire,  
Google Form, external presentations, and 20 focus group meetings for over 100 stakeholders. Focus group meetings ran from January 12 to May 19 of FY22, and were conducted four times a month.

Topics for these meetings ranged from "Sports and Recreation Programs" to "Habitat Protection and Ecosystem Restoration". The citizen questionnaire, comprising 30 questions, was available from February 13 to April 30. The Commission would like to thank all residents who participated throughout this engagement process.

The OSRP is set to be approved by Town Council in FY24 with OSRP work continuing in the 2035 Master Plan. Commissioner Hagen has been appointed as a Master Plan Update Committee Member and Chair of the Open Space and Recreation, and Natural, Cultural and Historical Resources Subcommittee.


The Commission would like Franklin residents to be aware of the potential tax savings of M.G. L. Chapter 61 Forest Lands and Forest Products, Chapter 61A Agricultural and Horticultural Land, and 61B Recreational Land. Such programs are designed to benefit the land owner via reducing the tax burden, as well as to preserve and maintain the quality and quantity of environmentally sensitive and natural areas within the Commonwealth.

The Conservation website continues to be reworked and updated to be more user-friendly. The Conservation Agent continues to develop and publish standard operating procedures and educational snippets to help residents understand the operations of Conservation and why Natural and Wetland Resources play an important role in the Franklin community.

Please visit our website for additional information:

Lastly, the Conservation Commission underwent substantial membership changes during FY22. Meghann Hagen and Mark LePage were appointed as Commissioners by Town Council after Commissioner Batchelor stepped down from the Commission. The Commission wishes to thank Commissioner Batchelor for his years of service.

Below is a list of current Conservation Commission members:
  • Patrick Gallagher, Chair
  • Jeffrey J. Milne, Vice Chair
  • Michael R. Rein
  • Meghann A. Hagen
  • Jeffrey Livingstone
  • Mark C. LePage
  • Richard W. Johnson

Respectfully submitted,
Patrick Gallagher, Chair 
Breeka Li Goodlander, CWS, PWS, CERPIT, 
Conservation Agent/Natural Resource Protection Manager

Note: Not all of the Conservation Commission report was shared here due to formatting challenges. You can find the complete ConComm section in one PDF ->

The full Town of Franklin FY 2023 Annual Report can be found online

Annual Report Of The Conservation Commission: FY 2023 Report
Annual Report Of The Conservation Commission: FY 2023 Report

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