HARDWICK – “There’s a good cedar swamp here.” “I’ve encountered wood turtles in this area.” “Deer and turkeys use these fields a lot.” “I love the mix of tree species I see here.” “I think this might be a wildlife corridor; I see so many tracks.”
These comments came from Hardwick residents who met Wednesday at the Memorial Building to hear about the Conservation Commission’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) project. The group pored over Hardwick maps to suggest places for field visits to Matt Peters of Woodbury, an environmental consultant, hired to conduct this work.
Peters began the meeting explaining the inventory process. He has compiled information available from state agencies and other sources to determine parts of the town for field visits. “Relatively undisturbed areas” are a focus: woodlands, uplands, lands along waterways and ponds, wetlands. The information gathered becomes a baseline document for the town. Peters stated the goals: “The NRI can guide planning for development and help promote conservation efforts. Residents can use it to learn about the town’s natural riches and enjoy our local environment.”
Conservation commission members will be reaching out for permission from landowners where Peters would like to do field work. The success of the inventory depends on reaching as many parts of the town as possible. Peters will walk the property where permission is granted to assess and map existing habitat and other notable natural features.
This summer and fall will be devoted to field work, the winter to creating a user-friendly report and maps. During the summer, Peters will lead two community field trips focused on natural communities in the town. A final public forum to share the findings of the Natural Resources Inventory comes in March 2024.
Townspeople can stop by the Conservation Commission table at the Spring Festival to learn more or reach commission Chair Rachel Kane at 472-5512.