Mark and Juliana Phillips’ home in Webster is part of 700 acres that has been in Mark’s family for generations. It’s where Mark was “surrounded by nature” as a boy. The land has seen changes since then - pastures grew in and habitats changed. “It was a classic, New England abandoned farm,” Mark says. The result was “less wildlife” than when the land was a mix of farm and forest cover. Juliana’s experience in nature early in life led to her attitudes about land today. “I grew up in a very rural part of New Jersey, where we spent most of the time 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 Taking Action for Wildlife came to Andover in the fall of 2012, the six-member conservation commission knew what they wanted to do - find creative ways to engage local residents and raise awareness about the value of wildlife habitats in Andover. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work right away. The group spent the winter months planning a program of public outreach activities to run from spring through fall, 2013. They included a mix of outdoor field trips, indoor slide presentations and a photo exhibit.
Beginning to notice local impacts of a warmer, wetter climate, the Pelham Forest Management Committee has incorporated climate change in a recent town forest management plan, and plans to make that a regular practice moving forward. Deborah Waters, current chair of the committee and a member for 15 years, has noticed a decline in the amount and duration of snow cover, impacting local snowmobile activity as well as creating challenges with forest management activities.
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.
"Take a walk along one of Gerry Langdon’s carefully constructed woods roads - through stands of hemlock, past the clearing with the small pond, through well- spaced hardwoods, carefully weeded and thinned - and you almost forget that you’re just minutes from the high- way..." Read more
Planning outreach in your community? Take a page from Campton's book and consider hosting an outdoor field event exploring local habitats. In 2012, Conservation Commissioners in Campton, NH decided to focus some attention on a special natural feature in their town, Bog Pond, that was identified as important habitat on the Wildlife Action Plan Highest Ranked Habitats map. They started by reviewing the Wildlife Action Plan maps for Campton to identify habitat types and highest ranked habitats.
I sat at my desk, eyes glued to my computer screen, flipping slowly through photos. I’m giddy with excitement, enjoying the scenes unfolding, snapshot by snapshot, in front of me. A beaver makes its way out of the pond and passes next to the camera, then in the next shot, I see it is pulling a shockingly large log behind it. I’ve seen the evidence of beaver’s work so many times, it barely catches my attention anymore, but there is something magical about seeing pictures of the animal at work.
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.