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.
You don't need to own hundreds of acres to manage your property for wildlife, and the Ellingwoods have proof. Mark and Susan have lived on their 7 acre property in Hancock for 20 years, and over that time they've taken simple, but thoughtful steps to create a haven for wildlife right in their own backyard.
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.
What do you get when you give 135 high school sophomores an armload of heavy pointed shovels, pick-axes, and hacksaws, and send them off into the woods?
Well, that’s not a joke, so don’t wait for a punchline.
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.
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.
Taking Action for Wildlife staff Amanda Stone and Emma Carcagno had the opportunity to assist a NH land trust to engage with local communities over the past several months using a new and exciting technology. SELT (previously known as Southeast Land Trust of NH), which currently serves most of Rockingham County and much of Strafford County, completed a new strategic plan earlier this year. As part of that process, the land trust recognized a need to update their conservation focus areas to help direct their future work.
New Hampshire's Wildlife Action Plan identifies 27 unique habitat types across the state. Many of these are easily recognized and definable, like grasslands or rocky ridges. Others require a bit more thought and consideration of how they should be defined, mapped, and managed.
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.