The Block Island Times

Conservation Commission charges ahead with new projects

Adds composting, shell collection and wetland restoration to list
By Stephanie Turaj | Mar 19, 2013

The Conservation Commission is continuing to work on its efforts to restore beach dunes and to protect town trees, and now the group has picked up several other project suggestions.

Town Council member Chris Warfel attended the Conservation Commission's Tuesday, March 12, meeting to ask three requests of the commission: to establish a composting project, to collect island shell waste to re-use for cultch and to reestablish an island wetland by Sands Pond.

Warfel brought forward a request about creating a composting program at the island transfer station, where island restaurants and landscapers could compost their waste instead of throwing it away. Block Island Recycling Management, the company that runs the island transfer station, had mentioned this to the Town Council as a possibility.

"If we charge a nominal amount for compostables from the commercial establishments — the restaurants, the landscapers — it would be less than what they normally pay," he said.

Similar to composting, Warfel also suggested that shells be collected from local restaurants and be compiled at the transfer station for re-use as "cultch." Cultch is materials, such as shells, that baby oysters (called spat) attach to and grow on.

The Conservation Commission agreed to look into which state regulatory oversight that both recycling projects would require.

Warfel also asked the commission to look into the high flooding levels at Sands Pond, perhaps by re-establishing a wetland by the pond.

"The situation there is that pond has been dammed up by a road for many years, and eventually it caused a lot of problems," said Warfel, explaining later that at least one nearby resident had her house flooded.

The commission agreed to look into the possibility of searching for grants to re-establish wetlands near the pond, which could help control the flooding level of the pond by re-establishing drainage.

The group also talked about its snow fencing project. The commission has teamed up with the Block Island Residents Association to purchase and install snow fencing, in order to restore the dunes on Crescent Beach that were damaged after Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms. Becky Clark, co-owner of the Beachead Restaurant attended the meeting, and said she was willing to donate to the cause. The road and the beach in front of the Beachead sustained heavy damage after Hurricane Sandy.

There is a dune restoration project scheduled for Crescent Beach on March 30 and volunteers are being sought to help install snow fencing.

The group also responded to written questions from the Town Council regarding the commission's Tree Ordinance. The commission drafted an ordinance that aims to protect Block Island’s trees by regulating the maintenance, removal and planting of trees on public property. The draft has been back-and-forth between the council and commission with questions.

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