Bethel selectmen approve forest management plan

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BETHEL — Selectmen unanimously approved the Bingham Forest management plan Monday night at the town office.

Selectmen decided that the management plan, presented on Nov. 6 by Jerry Bley and members of the Conservation Committee, was acceptable to approve, but observed that they need to address the matter of whether the water district will be fully involved in the Bingham Forest Authority committee or if they will simply be consulted as work in Bingham Forest moves forward.

Bley’s Forest management plan contained a section recommending that selectmen create an additional town committee to take on the Bingham Forest oversight called the Bingham Forest Authority. According to Bley, The Bingham Forest Authority would be made up of “five members appointed by selectmen” who would ideally “have expertise in water quality, timber management, recreation development, wildlife preservation and local tourism economy.”

At Monday night’s meeting, selectmen wondered whether or not the management plan is worded in a way that allows the water district to have a vote. Selectman Peter Southam said, “It’s worded in a vague enough way to leave them with the option to vote or to not vote.”

Southam later added that the board’s train of thought is that the committee should “have five people who were invested in the vote rather than four members who are and one who is forced to be there.”

Selectmen decided to allow the management plan to move forward, agreeing that the issue with the water district will be worked out.

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Chairman Stan Howe praised Bley and Conservation Committee member Landon Fake for all the work they put into the presentation.

“There was a lot of stuff to go over and organize here,” Howe said, “and you guys did a great job.”

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved the National Incident Management System, or NIMS, as the emergency management plan for the town. Before approving, selectmen allowed fire Chief Mike Jodrey to answer questions regarding the process of NIMS if an accident were to happen in Bethel.

Selectmen also voted to renew the West Bethel Children’s Center lease. The board was unanimous in their vote, with Selectman Pat Carter saying that the children’s center was for “our children’s benefit.”

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