“The well-being of communities of plants and animals depends on how intact and undisturbed their habitats are. Top threats to this are land fragmentation (larger roadless habitat blocks divided into smaller ones) and damaging land uses. Protecting against these by connecting and enlarging conservation lands was a principal motivator for Bear-Paw’s founders, and still guides our core mission.”
-Frank Mitchell, founding member
The Bear-Paw region is special. Located in a transitional area between the coast and inland hills and between the northern and more temperate climate zones, it has a unique mix of species that are at the northern or southern edges of their ranges. Within this landscape is a rich natural heritage that includes vast stretches of native forests, wetlands, streams and ponds as well as pockets of rare and unusual plants, animals, and natural communities.
The originally identified Greenways in the Bear-Paw region were based on connecting pre-existing large blocks of protected land (Bear-Brook, Pawtuckaway, and Northwood Meadows State Parks, and Blue Hills Foundation properties). The Greenways included one or more of the following features:
• Water (aquifers, surface waters)
• Rare or exemplary species or natural communities
• Part of an area of larger parcels that could conceivably be connected as conservation lands
As Bear-Paw grew from 7 towns to 11, our mapping and natural resources analysis began to extend beyond the original Greenways.
Bear-Paw completed natural resource mapping in the 1990s and in 2003 – these compilations of all the important natural features in the region provided the basis for the Conservation Plan. Understanding which species and habitats exist and how they are distributed across the landscape allowed us to create a plan for the conservation of the most ecologically important areas.
In 2014, Bear-Paw updated the spatial information that provides the basis for evaluating the relative value of potential easement projects.
The 2014 map included the location of surface and drinking waters, the latest available data from New Hampshire’s Wildlife Action Plan, landscape resiliency data from The Nature Conservancy, important agricultural soils, unfragmented forest blocks, and other data. All of this spatial information was compiled and overlaid, providing a map of where all these important natural features co-occur.
Bear-Paw’s focus remains on conserving land within the regions unfragmented forest blocks and protecting a network of connected open space corridors for wildlife and people. Specific goals include:
- 75% of the large unfragmented forest blocks in the Bear-Paw region.
- 50% of the riparian areas that lie outside large unfragmented forests.
- 50% of the remaining important agricultural soils and farms.
- other important wildlife habitat and natural resource features as resources allow.
Bear-Paw’s focus is on permanent conservation but thoughtful planning of the location, density and design of development can complement land protection efforts. Land use planning can guide economically and environmentally sustainable development in a way that maintains the region’s ecological functions and natural services, as well as its prosperity.
The 2014 natural resource inventory maps can be downloaded by clicking on the links below (PDF files):
2014 NRI - Bear-Paw Region
2014 NRI - Allenstown
2014 NRI - Barnstead
2014 NRI - Candia
2014 NRI - Deerfield
2014 NRI - Epsom
2014 NRI - Hooksett
2014 NRI - Northwood
2014 NRI - Nottingham
2014 NRI - Pittsfield
2014 NRI - Raymond
2014 NRI - Strafford
The 2008 plan can be downloaded by clicking on the links below (PDF files):
Bear-Paw Plan Complete
Appendix A Unfragmented Forest Focus Areas
Appendix B Riparian Focus Areas
Appendix C Unfragmented Forest and Riparian Focus Area Maps by Town
Appendix D Excerpts from Municipal Plans
Appendix E NH Wildlife Action Plan and the Coastal Plan
Appendix F Grant Programs and Other Partners