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The 3 B’s of Winter Tree and Shrub ID: Branching, Bark, and Buds

Winter may seem like a lousy time to identify trees and shrubs. Without leaves to look at, things definitely get a little difficult, but with a few tricks (and maybe a good book) in hand you can up your botany game and learn to identify trees and shrubs without leaves! And why, you might ask, would we even bother to identify trees and shrubs in the winter?  Besides honing a skill to impress your friends and neighbors, a lot of management decisions are made in winter. The frozen ground reduces the impact of heavy machinery, making in and ideal time for a timber harvest, or wildlife habitat management. As such, it can be helpful to know what trees and shrubs are on your land to help guide management. Here are the 3 B’s of winter tree and shrub identification:

Branching
All trees and shrubs have one of two branching patterns.  They are either opposite, where twigs come...

By Anne Tappan, Lee Conservation Commission
Winter 2018 Taking Action for Wildlife Newsletter
Photos by John Tappan

Over the last year and a half, the Lee Conservation Commission (LCC) has partnered with wildlife specialists from UNH Cooperative Extension and students from the Thompson School of Applied Science to improve habitat for American Woodcock. Mills Reserve borders Little River Park in Lee, NH, tucked between the playing fields and the Little River. The town owned parcel is a reclaimed gravel pit. The dry, sandy bowl at the base of the slope just beyond the playing fields has been a known woodcock singing ground (courtship area) for four years.

The woodcock is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation...

New Hampshire's wildlife habitats and the species they support could be significantly altered if the effects of climate change are not addressed - and NH communities are an important part of the solution! More frequent and heavier rain events resulting in extensive flooding, earlier ice outs on our lakes, more variable stream flows, milder winters and hotter, drier summers.... all these factors affect the state's wildlife populations as well as ourselves. So what's a community to do? In our newest fact sheet in the 5 Ways series, we address a number of actions communities can take to help make a difference for wildlife, while also providing protection for people and property Take a look at...

Cobblestone Tiger Beetle, an endangered species in New Hampshire.Last summer I was, ­as usual, working in my office on my computer when I got an unexpected call. The caller, Peter, was so excited! He had decided to explore a cobble island in the middle of the Pemigewasset River on the last day of his vacation, and he found a Cobblestone Tiger Beetle, one of the state endangered species. Peter, like many of you, is passionate about the wildlife and his special place – which for him is the entire Merrimack River Watershed (from the White Mountains to the Atlantic). Peter also has a special love for insects, from his undergraduate days studying...

Over the past few months, I have been noticing an abundance of white pine cones in the trees around Carroll county. Rather than producing consistent crops of seeds every year, white pine has good seed years every three to five years, with fewer seeds produced in the intervening years.

It takes two years for white pine cones to develop and mature. At the end of the first growing season, the cones will be approximately one inch long and a purplish color. During the second summer, the cones turn yellowish-green and then a light brown in the fall as they ripen. If you look up in the trees now, you will see many green cones that resemble "gherkin" pickles. The cones will open as they become mature and the seeds will be released in the fall, traveling anywhere from 200 to 700 feet from the tree.

Because white pine is an important timber...

It is now time to get to work implementing the many actions in the 2015 NH Wildlife Action Plan. One of these actions was to use the updated wildlife species data to revise the list of endangered and threatened species in New Hampshire. This was accomplished over several months in the fall of 2016.

Why do we do this? There are some species whose existence in New Hampshire is unlikely to continue unless we do something to help them, such as removing threats or restoring habitat. Under RSA 212-A, NHFG is tasked with creating this list and revising it periodically. It is important to reevaluate it so we are concentrating our efforts on the species that need it the most. There are some species that are in better shape now than in the recent past. This means they can be removed from the list (delisted). Delisting means we have been successful in helping a species recover, and it is certainly cause for...

Nearly 40 people gathered in the Greater Wakefield Resources center on a wintry January evening. This was the first in a series of three events held from January – April 2017 involving stakeholders in the Moose Mountain Regional Greenways’ (MMRG) seven-town service area (Wolfeboro, Wakefield, Brookfield, Middleton, New Durham, Farmington, Milton) as part of a group helping MMRG develop their strategic conservation plan, titled - Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow.A map of uncommon wildlife habitats used by Moose Mountain Regional Greenwaysduring their strategic conservation planning process.

During early 2017, the Taking Action for...

Volunteers survey along the brushy, shrubland habtiat used by rabbits. (Photo by Emily Lord)On a chilly Saturday morning in February, over 30 volunteers strapped on their snowshoes at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge to search for rabbits. Three days after a blanket of snow dropped on Southern New Hampshire, it was the perfect time to look for tracks and pellets – the telltale signs of rabbit presence. These citizen scientists are helping NH Fish and Game and UNH Cooperative Extension learn more about where eastern cottontails are found in New Hampshire.

The eastern cottontail rabbit was introduced to New...

As we walk through the woods we see a 10-15” diameter aspen here and there plus an occasional clump amidst what would otherwise be characterized as a pine-oak-maple stand with some beech, paper birch, and white ash. We see stone walls and tote roads dividing up these woods into clear sections or blocks. And as we approach a small old field, we see a couple of scattered apple trees along the edge that are way past their prime. There are a couple of old foundations, and just to the west of the field is a patch of huge multi-stemmed bull pine. Put all of this together, and we see amazing potential! 

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When Europeans first came to New Hampshire, moose were found statewide with the highest densities in the north. They were used as a primary source of both food and clothing and this unrestricted use quickly reduced their numbers and by the mid-1800’s moose were virtually extirpated from the state. The formation of the Fish and Game Department allowed moose to be protected from unrestricted hunting starting in 1901. During this time, habitat changes were occurring that were beneficial to moose. The transition of sheep pastures back into woodlands was one essential change for good moose habitat. In addition, in the 1960’s, a severe spruce budworm outbreak in the northern forest created the need for large timber salvage operations. These two habitat changes provided moose with the perfect mix of young...

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