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About the Stow Conservation Commission
The Town of Stow has a strong conservation ethic and hundreds of acres of protected farms, meadows and woodlands.
The Town established a Conservation Commission in 1963 pursuant to MGL Chapter 40, Section 8C. The Commission is a seven-member volunteer board that is supported by a full-time Conservation Coordinator and a part-time Assistant. Several associate members of the Commission also assist with the workload.
The Commission has several areas of primary responsibility which are summarized below and highlighted in web links that follow:
The Commission is responsible for administering the Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L. Ch. 131, Section 40) as well as the Town of Stow Wetland Protection Bylaw which was adopted by Town Meeting in 1983. Under these laws, the Commission is required to review and issue permits for any proposals to alter or develop land within 100’ of wetlands and within 200’ of rivers and ponds. This permitting process helps protect the town’s drinking water and wildlife habitat, and helps prevent storm damage, pollution and flooding.
Over the years, Stow residents have had the foresight to set aside more than 1300 acres of town-owned conservation land to help protect wildlife, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and maintain the Town’s natural resources and rural character. Many of these lands – like Flagg Hill, Marble Hill, Town Forest, and Captain Sargent Conservation Area have facilities including parking and extensive trails so the public can enjoy them. The Conservation Commission is responsible for managing these lands, creating and enforcing rules for their use, monitoring boundaries and maintaining trails. Community Gardens at the Captain Sargent fields are another community resource, and are overseen by our volunteer Community Garden Coordinator. We have part-time Land Steward that assists with these responsibilities as well as dedicated citizens who volunteer their time to regularly monitor properties. The Commission also holds or co-holds a number of conservation restrictions and agricultural
preservation restrictions designed to keep privately-held land open and undeveloped.
Open Space Planning and Protection
The Conservation Commission is responsible for developing and maintaining the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan and works closely with the Stow Open Space Committee and Stow Conservation Trust to identify and prioritize additional land for protection. To be eligible for state grants to buy land, a municipality must have a current approved or draft Open Space and Recreation Plan on file with the state. The Commission appoints volunteers and associate members to update the plan regularly. The Commission also has a seat on Stow’s Community Preservation Committee to advise and make recommendations for expenditures from Stow’s Community Preservation Fund.
Education and Outreach
The Conservation Commission also serves as a community education organization. In recent years, the Commission has provided feedback on Assabet River management issues. The Commission is currently working on developing plans and materials with regard to invasive species management and examining the issue of deer management on town conservation land. We have a resource library of field guides and information on private land management in our office that residents are welcome to use. The Conservation Commission also advises other municipal officials and boards on conservation issues that relate to their
areas of responsibility.