Field, Forest and Meadow Preservation
Field and Meadow Management
The Conservation Commission manages over 30 conservation fields throughout town. While a few of these fields are used agriculturally through a contract with Land’s Sake, Inc., the majority of them are managed for plant and wildlife habitat, scenic views, and passive recreation. Work in these fields involves managing invasive species, maintaining field edges, keeping trails open, caring for stone walls, and more. Weston's Conservation Fields - Guidelines for Managers (PDF) provides a framework for conservation field management in town. The Field Mowing Guide (PDF) provides maps and access information for the fields that are mown through the Commission’s mowing contract. This generally involves work to cut them back to their appropriate boundaries - either stone walls or mature trees marking an old fence-row or woodlot edge.
2020 Ecological Assessment
In 2020, Conservation staff conducted an extensive ecological assessment, which resulted in the identification of 10 Meadow Management Outcomes:
- Select ecologically rich fields to mow later in the season for pollinator and wildlife habitat enhancement (after Oct. 1st)
- Control the spread of swallow-wort and other invasive species by mowing impacted fields early July while leaving patches of milkweed
- Ensure agricultural fields remain in agriculture
- Continue to manage certain for passive recreation/dog walking
- Ensure previous field restoration projects continue to be managed
- Continue to control invasive vegetation growing on select rock walls
- Actively manage select patches of knotweed in fields (3 years then monitor)
- Continue to push back invasive plants along field edges and tree Islands where previous management has occurred
- Consider a new priority for field restoration project – Millers Field
- Abandon the management of three small low ecological quality fields (due to funding constraints)
The Meadow Management Assessment was discussed at the Conservation Commission's meeting on October 27, 2020. To learn more about the above-listed outcomes, a Weston Media Center recording of the Conservation Field Assessment Presentation began at the 1:21:15 recording mark.
Materials presented to the Commission are also available online, including the Executive Summary of the fiscal year 2021 Meadow Management Assessment (PDF) and the 2020 Meadow Assessment and Management Presentation (PDF).
2020 Ecological Management Plan
The Conservation Commission engaged Mass Audubon’s Ecological Extension Services to develop an Ecological Management Plan (EMP) for the Case Estates to guide the maintenance and stewardship of this unique property over the next seven years. Additional information, including the plan, can be found under the Case Estates project web page.
A forest management plan that allows for the selective cutting of fire wood and saw logs has been implemented. By selective cutting and careful management, the town’s forests will ultimately be more productive and will provide diverse wildlife habitat. Land’s Sake, through a contract with the Commission, manages this program and has done work in the Highland Forest and Case Estates.
Woolly Adelgid Treatments
In 2008 and 2009, the Commission utilized Community Preservation Act Funds and Land Management funds to treat four stands of Eastern Hemlock that were infected with the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Treatment areas were chosen based on the viability and present condition of the trees.
Left untreated, the invasive Woolly Adelgid would probably kill most, if not all, of the hemlocks in Weston. This would dramatically change the species composition and habitat quality of Weston’s open space.