Many New Hampshire towns and cities own land. A study conducted by UNH Cooperative Extension and partners found that 4% of New Hampshire’s forest is in town ownership, scattered in about 1,700 parcels and encompassing 180,439 acres. Much of that land has the potential to be managed to benefit wildlife.
By identifying and describing natural resources in a local setting, a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) provides communities with a strong foundation for proactive planning and informed decision-making about their natural resources. The Wildlife section of a NRI gives an opportunity to focus on locally important wildlife habitats and associated species.
Invasive plants often take over places where soils or existing plants have been disturbed – sites like field edges, abondoned farms, roadsides, or at trailheads. One of the best things you can do to minimize the spread of invasive plants is to leave soils and areas of native plants alone, especially in places where invasive plants are nearby.
Often, chemical control of invasive plants isn’t an option and mechanical control is the only way to manage invasive plants in an area. In these situations, many hands make light work, and volunteers can be an effective way to help achieve invasive plant management goals. Involving volunteers in these workdays also helps increase the network of individuals who are aware of issues related to invasive plants.
If you would like to increase the percentage of the land use change tax that goes into your Conservation Fund, you should be prepared to explain the land use change tax (LUCT) is the tax paid to towns when land it taken out of current use. You should also be able to describe the projects recently funded with LUCT and what your Conservation Fund has been used for in the past. Focus on successful projects that were supported by the public. It is important to outline the tax savings if the proposed LUCT goes into the general fund.
Sustainably managing town-owned land for wildlife habitat provides an opportunity to be good example of sound stewardship practices for the community. When management is driven by research-based methods and and professional assistance, town lands can showcase habitat management techniques and Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Many familiar plants in our gardens, fields, and along roadsides are not native to New Hampshire. While the majority cause no harm to natural habitat or managed farms and forests, some do and are considered invasive plants. Invasive plants can reduce biodiversity, imperil rare species, reduce wildlife habitat by eliminating native foods or changing cover or nest sites, degrade water quality, reduce forest and farm crop production, and cause human health problems.
Using your wildlife conservation plan and natural resources inventory as a guide, you can start working on conservation projects to protect important habitats in your community. Habitat protection is often one of the primary reasons many landowners choose to conserve their land. Now is the time to initiate conversations with landowners who may be interested voluntarily conserving their land for wildlife habitat. Learn from some landowners who conserved their land with wildlife in mind.
Many potentially useful observations of wildlife are made by landowners, recreationists, birders, hunters and fishermen, foresters, and general wildlife enthusiasts. Through NH Wildlife Sightings, professionals and other citizens can report their wildlife observations.
Towns have limited resources to conserve land. A conservation plan or land conservation selection criteria can help your conservation commission prioritize projects to pursue for permanent land conservation. This is also a proactive approach to protect key resources ahead of time. A community conservation plan will help you educate landowners, new commission members, other town officials, and the general public about important natural resources in your community. It will also demonstrate to potential funding entities that you are operating in a professional manner.