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.
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.
Are you a citizen scientist? Do you want to be? The activity we call “science” began as citizen science centuries ago, with curious people asking questions about the world around them and looking for answers through observation and experimentation. Today, scientists are rediscovering the benefits of public participation in scientific research.
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 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.
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.
When the request for proposals came from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) in 2015, the Somersworth Conservation Commission knew what they wanted to do. They saw an opportunity to get their Natural Resources Inventory done with the help of Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC). The proposal they submitted together with SRPC was funded and they got to work.
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.
The Town of Easton, in northern Grafton County, has a way with coming up with catchy names. Their “Pastry and Preservation” conservation events have drawn local residents to enjoy good food and learn about the town’s natural resources. So no big surprise that they came up with “Got Wildlife?”, a creative activity to engage residents in recording wildlife sightings in town. They hung a map of town right outside the town clerk’s office (with permission, of course!) where there are often residents standing in line.