Beginning to notice local impacts of a warmer, wetter climate, the Pelham Forest Management Committee has incorporated climate change in a recent town forest management plan, and plans to make that a regular practice moving forward. Deborah Waters, current chair of the committee and a member for 15 years, has noticed a decline in the amount and duration of snow cover, impacting local snowmobile activity as well as creating challenges with forest management activities. The Committee has recently had to extend contracts for forest management due to issues accessing certain areas because the ground is too wet.
Deborah reached out to UNH Extension in November 2019, seeking information and resources to help the Committee incorporate climate impacts into town forest management plans. Since then, the Committee worked with Full Circle Forestry, LLC (which consists of Ehrhard Frost, Jeffrey Snitkin, and Eric Radlof) to develop a management plan for a newly designated town forest – Merriam Farm Town Forest – which has a section on climate. They also completed the checklist in the resource Increasing Forest Resiliency for an Uncertain Future. The Committee plans to include climate change in any new plans going forward, and also to incorporate it into existing plans when they are due for an update.
Considering climate change in forest management isn’t necessarily adding anything new, but rather underscores the importance of existing best practices. It is helping the Committee prioritize certain issues, such as invasive species, which are likely to become increasingly problematic in a warming world.
When asked what advice she would offer to other communities looking to undertake similar efforts, Deborah recommended, “Reach out to professionals – your town forester, county forester, wetland scientist, maybe a regional planning commission. Just start digging in with them. You don’t need to do it on your own."
By Lisa Wise, Climate Change Program Manager, UNH Cooperative Extension
Spring 2021 Takign Action for Wildlife Newsletter
Photo: Merriam Farm Town Forest from Forest Observations, Descriptions, and Prescriptions for Merriam Farm