Stewardship Grant Information From DNR Received

Town Chairman Matt Lazorik received the following letter from Pamela Foster Felt of the DNR on January 13, 2017 regarding the DNR Stewardship grant information.

Chairman Lazorik,

Thanks for the invitation to the February meeting. We'll do our best to have grant staff there to answer questions.

1. Regarding your question about the Town's opportunity to pass a resolution either in support or opposition to the Stewardship grant:

There is no particular requirement in the law about what that resolution must say or how it's phrased. The nature and language of any resolution are entirely up to the Town. We don't receive many formal resolutions from local governments regarding grant projects; those I have received have been simple - "Whereas this acquisition is consistent with comprehensive planning, the Town hereby supports this grant application..." I've received a resolution of opposition from a town that simply said "we resolve to oppose this Stewardship funded acquisition in our Town." without any further explanation.

There's one attached as an example, just FYI.

2. I'll share some information about Stewardship land in general and what would be true of the property should BRC get the grant and use it to help purchase the property:

* The purpose of a Stewardship grant would be to ensure that the conservation values of the property are preserved and the property remains open to the public for nature-based outdoor recreation: hunting, trapping, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing (there would be no requirement to maintain trails).

* DNR would not own the land, but would have an interest and some approval authority over the property. There would be a grant contract recorded on the property through which the BRC or any subsequent owner agrees to limit management activities to things compatible with the purposes of the grant program. That means that DNR would ask to approve plans to develop any trail system, conduct timber harvest, charge any user fees to offset maintenance costs, etc.

* Some management activities would not be permitted: construction of paved roads, buildings, closing the property to hunting, any installation that prevents a part of the property from being available for public, nature-based recreation, vehicular use (though depending on topography and location, there have been circumstances where we've approved snow-mo routes and/or bike trials across sections of Stewardship land).

* DNR has no opinion or preference about who owns the property. If it becomes Stewardship land, DNR would have to approve any transfer of ownership from BRC to another owner. By law, Stewardship land can be owned by a conservation nonprofit or a government. Whoever owns it would be obligated to manage the property per all the provisions of the grant contract.

* DNR has no relationship to or influence over the Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program grant.

* Finally, the Clerk shared the Town's application to FEMA for re-routing the river and shared several questions about whether or not a Stewardship grant contract would prevent that from happening. From some information gathering and discussion with colleagues here, I think no. Assuming any approved/funded river re-route would mean restoration of areas disturbed by the re-route to natural conditions, I think a Stewardship grant contract is not necessarily a barrier to re-routing the river.

Hope that information is useful. We will be in touch about which of us is able to attend the February meeting. If any questions arise in the meantime, don't hesitate to call.

Best regards,
Pam Foster Felt