Bristol requesting geological data

BRISTOL — Many Bristol residents have repeatedly demanded the town have more geological information about Bristol’s eastern conservation zone before extraction in the area is permitted.
At the Oct. 3 selectboard meeting, a subcommittee — formed back in April and comprised of planning commission members John Elder and Kris Perlee and conservation commission vice chair Pete Diminico and Kristen Underwood (a conservation commission member) — sought approval from the selectboard to move ahead with an application to have Bristol’s conservation zone mapped.
On Oct. 13 in Berlin, they are applying for federal and state funding to have the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) create a map of the town’s surficial geology, or geological makeup near the earth’s surface, and a bedrock map. If the subcommittee’s application were accepted, to cost of creating these two basic maps would not be charged to the town and its people. From those two maps, derivative maps could then be created to reveal where resources like gravel and sand are deposited.
These derivative maps would cost as much as $6,000 per quadrant, and the conservation zone falls within two geologic quadrants. Townspeople don’t need to decide on whether to use town funding for derivative maps at this time.
“These maps that we’re asking for are basic scientific information … they have no agenda,” said Elder. “The town can decide if we want to do a derivative map … This is basic information that would be the starting point for planning … we don’t feel that there’s any political angle to this process at all.”
Diminico agreed, telling the selectboard, “It would be a planner’s dream … this is the 21st century, we should be doing this anyway … I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Bristol.”
The board endorsed the application with the addition of the town’s third northwestern geologic quadrant added to the study. If the USGS does map the town, landowners reserve the right to prohibit geologists from surveying their land. As a result, small holes would exist on the final map where landowners did not allow surveying.
Town Administrator Bill Bryant supported the plan, explaining that a better understanding of the resources and land features in the conservation zone might mitigate future dispute over extraction in the area.
“It could just as easily take a controversy off the table,” he said.
“I think that’s true,” added Elder. “Sometimes controversies are very hypothetical.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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