LONDONDERRY — The town's conservation areas have an extra watchful eye as a new conservation ranger is now on the job.
Retired Londonderry police Sgt. Glenn Aprile has taken the position as the community's first conservation ranger, a job that is new to the state and one that will give added security to thousands of acres of protected, conservation areas.
Aprile officially resigned in May from the police department after serving 32 years. He will now serve on a part-time basis patrolling Londonderry's conservation properties and helping educate the community on ways to respect the natural open spaces.
Voters gave approval at the polls in March to support the new position.
Aprile officially started July 1 when the new fiscal year got underway. He told Londonderry Conservation Commission members at a meeting in May that he was excited about the job and thanked the group for its commitment to protecting Londonderry's conservation areas, including Kendall Pond Conservation Area and the vast Musquash Conservation Area.
"A lot of hard work went into it," Aprile said, adding being the first ranger of this type was "right up his alley."
Aprile will have full law enforcement authority to uphold the town's rules governing the properties.
The community has had issues in several of its conservation areas in past years.
About five years ago, town councilors approved a new ordinance putting restrictions on target shooting in the 1,000-acre Musquash area, a problem concerning not only town officials, but also neighbors and residents who enjoyed the Musquash trails and areas, but often felt unsafe due to the shooting.
Rules now in place allow target shooting in the Musquash only during turkey and deer hunting seasons as established by New Hampshire Fish and Game and only allowed for those holding a valid state Fish and Game license. A check-in with Londonderry police would also be required. Signs are posted noting the rules.
But it's not just the target shooting that worries Conservation Commission members. Musquash is home to turtles and other wildlife — and all-terrain vehicles may be disrupting nesting areas.
"There has been an increase in ATV activity in the conservation land," said commission Chairman Marge Badois. "There is a big population of turtles, and we are working with New Hampshire Fish and Game to enhance some nesting areas."
Badois said turtles nest in sandy areas and ATVs are "doing doughnuts" in those spots.
The Kendall Pond area has also had its share of issues, Badois said. They are continuing to be worked out, thanks to stricter security measures, including updated rules for when the area is open, and a surveillance camera that can provide images of any foul play to be turned over to local police.
"ATVs in the Musquash is the growing problem, and Kendall Pond is a shrinking problem," Badois said.
In the past, Badois said conservation members — all volunteers — could try to bring those in violation through the proper channels but it would take time. With Aprile now on board as conservation ranger, problems can be nipped in the bud quickly.
Right now, it's the ATVs causing big headaches for the conservation group, Badois said. But she said Aprile will be a great asset to Londonderry to help keep conservation areas safe for those who enjoy spending time there.
Aprile told the conservation group that he wants to also make education a big part of his new position, especially in the neighborhoods close to protected land.
As part of the ranger job, Aprile will also have access to his own department ATV and truck to use when patrolling the lands.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there," he said. "I'm going to tell you, I'm going to hit them hard. When the word gets out that you are out there, they may slow down. I know what an ATV can do. It can tear up the land."