Betsy Hardwick is Chair of the Francestown Conservation Commission and a member of the Select Board. For the past eleven years, in addition to managing her family’s 30 acre property, she has worked to increase conservation land in her town and involve town residents in those lands through education, events and frequent communication. Much of this work has included enhancing and protecting valuable wildlife habitats. Betsy has lived in Francestown all her life, as have generations of family before her.
In the early hours of a Saturday morning in spring, a group of Fremont citizens armed with binoculars and field guides were alert and quiet, listening intently to the chorus of birds and scribbling on their notepads. “Hermit thrush. Scarlet Tanager. Chickadee. Wait! Was that a pileated woodpecker?”. A short distance away another group huddled over a small flower, riffling through a field guide to identify it. A third group was on the hunt for reptiles, amphibians, mammals and insects.
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.
Most of us Granite Staters are enamored, maybe even infatuated, with the forests of New Hampshire. It’s hard not to be. They cover about 84% of the state after all, and include a variety of 86 native tree species that blanket the landscape in a patchwork of leaves and needles, bark and branches.
In 2014, brothers Gordon Peckham and James Sowders III purchased a 70-acre woodlot in Lempster. They knew their main goal for their new property was wildlife habitat, but they weren’t sure how to get started or whether hands-on management was needed.
Amherst has few grasslands, and they are mostly small and scattered. There are no 25-acre abandoned airport fields here, but grassland habitats in Amherst may support around 70 species of wildlife. In New Hampshire, grasslands are largely man-made and require periodic management to be maintained. The vision of the Amherst Conservation Commission (ACC) is to maintain grasslands in Amherst as a vital component of the larger mosaic of wildlife habitats in our landscape.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned. When you visit Dave and Tanya Tellman, landowners in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, you will be meeting the sort of forest enthusiasts that will make you want to go out and buy a big chunk of land, whether or not you have the time, the energy, or the means. Their passion for forestry, for plants, for wildlife, for working in the woods, for tilling the soil and harvesting fruits and vegetables from their land is deeply inspiring. I’ve spent the weeks since visiting them this summer quietly scheming about how
Read about the White family - homesteaders who live on and work their Sandwich, New Hampshire property as a way of life, but who are also benefiting wildlife and habitats. Written by Malin Clyde, UNH Cooperative Extension for Northern Woodlands Magazine, March 2007.
The town of Brentwood Conservation Commission has been working towards managing some town-owned properties for wildlife habitat. That may sound like an easy task, but there is a lot to consider when making management decisions, especially on town-owned lands. The Commission must balance multiple uses and important natural resources in their decisions: protecting drinking water, keeping forests healthy, maintaining important wildlife habitat, providing a place for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Town-owned conservation lands are for people—places to come together and build community, learn about the stewardship of the natural world, and recreate alone or in groups. Town lands protect valuable natural resources—water and wildlife habitat. They can bring income to the town.