1999 Environmental Review and Impacts
The area surrounding Dennis pond is a fragile environment. An environmental study was done in August 1999 titled “The Renn Property and Dennis Pond Property, Stafford Connecticut” by the Eastern Connecticut Environmental Review Team of the Resource Conservation and Development Area, INC. for the Stafford Conservation Commission.
There are some key points that this report provides specific to use and the impacts to the environment of Dennis Pond:
Page 12, bullet point 5:
The upland area on the east side of the pond is large enough to support a trail around the perimeter without disturbing the interior portions of the property. The steepest slopes are also within the interior of the parcel and should be avoided where possible. There is an existing trail running up the north side of the parcel to the utility line. This trail would have to be improved in some locations. The entire perimeter was not walked so this Team member is not familiar with the entire east and southern boundaries. The southernmost portion of the upland appears to contain steep slopes and some ledge. A number of intermittent streams will also be encountered during trail construction. As stated previously, the lower trail should be moved upslope 20-30 feet if the picnic areas are to be developed along the pond.
The creation of openings in the forest will increase the susceptibility of the trees to windthrow at the leeward edge of the openings. Trees adjacent to or in openings that are created on soils with high moisture content or on windward slopes will have the greatest risk for windthrow. These newly exposed trees are also susceptible to ice, snow and wind storms which may cause considerable crown breakage.
Construction activities that occur too close to trees that are to be retained will adversely effect their health, vigor and longevity, potentially creating future hazard trees. Trees are very sensitive to the condition of the soil within the entire area of their root systems which extends well beyond the spread of their crowns. Excavation, filling and the general use of heavy machinery will lead to some degree of soil compaction that will adversely affect the soil moisture and aeration balance. This imbalance could lead to a decline in tree health and vigor and may even lead to tree mortality within three to five years. Physical damage to the root system (by excavation) or bark damage may allow the introduction of decay organisms which may result in the decline of a tree’s health over time. The older and/or larger a tree is, the more readily it is affected by the negative impact of construction related activities. The delayed effect of construction activities on trees can create future problems that are expensive to rectify once improvements are in place.
Trail Development and Maintenance
Trail Development and Maintenance
The hypothetical layout of the nature trail will require serious planning to prevent erosion of soils. Vegetation clearing will be necessary and proper trail bed preparation. Some areas being traversed may be perennially or seasonally wet and may require special attention and maintenance. Trails should not be allowed to crisscross the property. Authorized trails should be well marked and unauthorized trails should be blocked off. Excessive numbers of trails lead to habitat degradation and wildlife values are diminished.
Park Recreation Review
Recreational developments could be considered on this property. It is located in the most developed and densely populated part of Stafford and is accessible to a large number of citizens. Boundaries should be marked to prevent conflicts with adjoining land owners. A single loop trail could be constructed to provide access to the property east of the pond. Because of the terrain this trail should be restricted to foot traffic only. Overlooks could be created from the higher steeper terrain. Fishing access is available at the present and could be expanded by some trail improvements to the existing trail on the eastern edge of the pond. A few wet areas need to be hardened to prevent erosion from increased use. A youth group campsite to be used by town youth groups could be considered. Permits for use and accountability could be secured from the commission. A possible site for this could be on one of the abandoned house sites. The area should be kept as natural and undeveloped as possible. Signage to explain the areas historic past and interpret the natural features could be placed along the loop trail. A map and guide to all of the conservation commissions properties should be published and available at the town hall.