In the Bear-Paw region and on Bow Lake in particular, undeveloped islands are a rare natural resource. Prior to “modern” zoning and development restrictions, the islands of New Hampshire’s lakes were routinely divvied up and turned into vacation retreats with cottages, docks and other structures, then passed down from generation to generation. But, who wouldn’t want to inherit an island retreat, especially now!
Although NH’s islands and shore line may be better protected today, Bear-Paw Regional Greenways was recently presented the opportunity to protect two island gems and 1,000 feet of shore line on the north side of Bow Lake. Nothing secures them as well as a conservation easement held by a local land trust with a mission like ours.
When Hammond and Eliza Brown approached Bear-Paw about the possibility of protecting their islands and nearby shoreline, we weren’t really sure what to think at first. As a bunch of “landlubbers,” more comfortable with protecting swathes of forest, wetland, and farmland, this was a new idea. But once we got a chance to see the islands, the shoreline, and what could happen without protection, we became committed to helping the Browns realize their vision.
Bow Lake is 1,160 acres in size and is located in Strafford and Northwood. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including breeding loons and bald eagles. It is also a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and boating. The Isinglass River begins at the outlet of Bow Lake at the dam and has been designated as a protected river under New Hampshire’s Rivers Management & Protection Act. A Designated River is one that is managed and protected for its outstanding natural and cultural resources.
Near the Brown’s islands and shoreline are breeding loon locations and not far away is a bald eagle nesting site on another undeveloped island. Shoreline development and recreational pressures on lakes have been implicated in declines in loon breeding success.
When the Brown project is complete, almost all of the shoreline on the Brown’s six-acre lot and all of the two islands will be protected with a conservation easement held by Bear-Paw. The easement will prohibit most disturbance of the vegetation on the islands and along the lake frontage. The Browns have agreed to a bargain sale of the easement and we are now in the process of securing funds to complete the project by the end of this year.
Bear-Paw has already received a commitment of support from the Strafford Conservation Commission, but we will also need the help of people just like you! If you would like to make a gift designated to this project and Bear-Paw’s land protection program, use the enclosed remittance envelope or contact the office. Indicate “The Brown Project” on your check.
Loons have struggled in New Hamphsire. The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) was created in 1975 in response to concerns about a dramatically declining loon population and the effects of human activities on loons. LPC’s mission is to restore and maintain a healthy population of loons throughout New Hampshire; to monitor the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and to promote a greater understanding of loons and the larger natural world. See the Loon Preservation Committee at www.loon.org for more information.
A Note From the Chair
During 2013, Bear-Paw established a new volunteer land stewardship program. Thanks to the efforts of Frank Mitchell, a group of members is now engaging in this crucial work.
We have been less successful in recruiting volunteers to serve on our Board of Directors and subcommittees. Yet the work of these groups is essential to our mission! We are five people short on our Board, and need help on our Membership Development Committee.
Volunteerism is an activity that not only benefits the causes we work for, but also benefits us. In a 2013 national survey of adults conducted by United Health Group, 76% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months say volunteering made them feel better; 94% say volunteering improves their mood.
Wow! Doing good is good for us! To learn about ways you can help Bear-Paw, please contact me at 603.315.6139.
Exploring with family
by Amanda Mandella
Each time I wander the woods with my kids, it’s a new experience. There is usually something different, some change to ponder, from a previous trip. With spring upon us, I imagine the growth unfurling from beneath the leaf litter will be a steady source of fascination. With so much change on its way, I am excited to once again dig through our numerous Audubon books, identifying plants as we go. The challenge lies in successfully identifying one plant before the kids are moving on to another.
Sometimes, our regular meanderings give way to conversations which may have never taken place otherwise. It is on these days that I realize we are discovering not the woods, but each other. The forest, welcoming and uncluttered, somehow allows us to share simple thoughts on life’s complexities or just quiet moments, which seem so rare these days.
Flopping down on the ground once, a simple “You should try this” from my 5 year old daughter stopped me in my tracks and I flopped down beside her quietly; she slid her little hand into mine and we lay gazing up at branches against the sky. We may not have exchanged even a word, but we shared something; the woods, the air, the branches above us, sunlight on our faces: humanness, life and belonging, the pure contentment of being able to enjoy this moment together.
The best thing we take from the woods is our experiences together. The beauty and freedom of the forests and fields around us give us the space to share with each other, to grow together and become closer to one another. As the sound of spring fills your travels, as you explore with your families again and again enjoy all of your discoveries with one another and of one another. Nature is a gift, share it and grow.
Board Member Profile
When Amanda Mandella and her husband Mike, and their children Abigail and Landon, moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Strafford, New Hampshire, in 2012, it was a homecoming of sorts for Amanda. She had grown up on a farm over in Pembroke where she delighted in playing in the long stretches of fields and woods that ran unbroken behind the farm. Across the road from her home was an open field with a stream where, as a nine-year-old with a new 35mm camera her father had given her, she spent hours taking pictures through the changing seasons.
Amanda’s later education turned her photography interests into professional skills, and partly because that field where she practiced as a child is now suburban homes and lawns, her interests have turned to conservation. Within weeks of coming back, she began volunteering for Bear-Paw and has helped us focus more on family-friendly events. We have quickly come to rely on her as our photographer and videographer; and she created our first Bear-Paw videos. She also keeps our Facebook fresh and is helping with our planned website upgrade. We are pleased and fortunate to welcome her to the Board!
Looking for a way to give back?
We all have special talents, skills we can utilize, things we can do to help!
Bear-Paw has volunteer opportunities to meet differing commitment levels and interests. Whether engaging in an internship, helping with an event, or serving on the Board or on a committee, we have an opportunity for you! Contact us today to find out how you can have a positive impact on your community!
New Ways to Find Bear-Paw
Bear-Paw has been expanding its online presence in several ways over the last couple of years so everyone can find us more easily.
Bear-Paw’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BearPawRegionalGreenways) now has over 200 friends.
If you’re on Twitter, you can find us at www.twitter.com/BearPawTweets or @BearPawTweets. We only have 65 followers so we have plenty of room for growth!
Bear-Paw’s newest online presence can be found at Meetup.com (www.meetup.com/Bear-Paw-Fieldtrip-Workshop-and-Other-Events-Meetup) where more than 31 people have already connected with us. We’re hoping to increase participation in our events and eventually offer more ways to help get people outdoors. Meetup is just the latest way Bear-Paw is reaching out through social media.
We have also been working on a new look and features for our www.bear-paw.org website. When the overhaul is complete, users will find an interactive map for point and click discovery and information about all the properties where one can take a good hike. Watch for news about the rollout of our new look late this year!
If you would like to help Bear-Paw expand its presence and build our audience online, please contact us!
Picture Post: Monitoring the landscape with digital photographs
by Annette Schloss
People stopping at the bench on the Meadows Trail on the Isinglass River Conservation Reserve may have noticed a post with an odd 8-sided platform on top of it overlooking the wetland. No ordinary post, this Picture Post is an environmental monitoring station. Volunteers are needed to collect and share data, which can be done anytime you visit the site.
If you enjoy walking the Bear-Paw greenways, bring your digital camera or pull that smart phone from your pocket. Take nine pictures (8 around and 1 up) from the Picture Post, upload them to the Picture Post website, and you will capture a moment in time that also contributes to a national environmental monitoring network. Signage on the post describes how to take and share pictures.
The Digital Earth Watch (DEW) Picture Post Network is a citizen science initiative funded by NASA and coordinated at the University of New Hampshire. DEW is supported by a team of scientists and educators with the purpose of developing more citizen understanding of local and regional environments.
Bear-Paw’s first post, which we hope is one of many, will help demonstrate the power of capturing a changing environment with repeat digital photographs. What data is contained in pictures? A lot! UNH researchers use them to determine the timing of phenological features in vegetation – seasonal events such as leaf out in spring or fall color change. At the Meadows site, we can observe and measure the water level, ice, and snow cover. These are changing along with our climate. The site is also home to active beavers.
A network of Picture Posts in the Bear-Paw region will create a visual diary of how each property is changing and responding to climate change. Picture Post is open to anyone. Posts have been set up at nature centers, schools, parks and beaches, even in backyards!
If you are interested in helping Bear-Paw set up a post and/or taking photographs, please contact Annette Schloss at 603.862.0348. To learn more, visit http://picturepost.unh.edu and check out the Bear-Paw Isinglass River Post 1:
George DeWolf is a generous member who continues to support Bear-Paw though he and his wife, Joyce Palmer, have moved from their home in Candia and now live in Wentworth, New Hampshire. He says, “It is so important to protect land for wildlife and to fend off encroaching development. My support for Bear-Paw is built on the fact that I know and trust many of the people involved – folks like Betsy Kruse, Judi Lindsey, and Ed Fowler.”
With a Quinnipiac University degree in Information Systems, George has spent his professional life in Information Technology work, but he has always enjoyed the pleasures of the outdoors and conservation lands. These days he divides his work life between IT work for a Connecticut-based hospital system during the week and teaching skiing at Waterville Valley on the weekends. He volunteers as a Bog Host at Quincy Bog Natural Area, leading children from local school systems on guided hikes around the Bog. He’s also a trail adopter for the Forest Service. A self-described “nature geek”, he assists with organization of New Hampshire’s only North American Butterfly Association count, and is always on the lookout for birds, insects, mushrooms, wildflowers and big trees.
George also contributes to Bear-Paw by attending Annual Meetings and other events. People may remember him going down to the wire against Ed Fowler in the “Heads or Tails” game at the first Bear-Paw auction.
Thank you, George DeWolf, for your support of the Bear-Paw mission!
Can Runner Needed!
by Harmony Anderson
For more than four years Ben Edwards has been a very valuable volunteer for Bear-Paw, handling the aluminum can trailer at the Northwood Hannaford Supermarket. During three seasons of the year, Ben monitored the level of the cans, towed the trailer across Route 4 to Harding Metals, and emptied the cans. Ben had an unexpected operation this spring and had to “retire” from this job (Ben is recovering nicely, but not ready for the cans!). If you would be willing to become Bear-Paw’s next Can Runner, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603.463.9400.
Hannaford Supermarket has generously allowed Bear-Paw to use the area. Area citizens who bring aluminum cans to the trailer and Ben’s work in processing them contribute more than $1,000 to Bear-Paw’s land conservation work each year!
Grants and Project Support
Thanks to all our member towns, private foundations, and other organizations that have supported our efforts over the last year! Bear-Paw received grants to support the Hinman Pond project in Hooksett that was completed in October 2013. These included:
• NHDES Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund $500,000
• US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Restoration Program $160,000
• NHDES Water Supply Land Protection Program $156,000
• NH Fish and Game Department $114,000
• NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program $50,000
• NH Conservation License Plate Program $40,000
• Samuel P. Hunt Foundation $20,000
• Davis Conservation Foundation $10,000
• Fields Pond Foundation $10,000
• McIninch Foundation$10,000
• William P. Wharton Trust $10,000
• Gifts from the Thomas W. Haas Fund – New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Jed and Katherine Merrow, and others.
Bear-Paw was also awarded additional grants to support the Crooked Run/Boy Scouts of America project in Barnstead, Pittsfield, and Strafford – $125,000 from the Open Space Institute’s (OSI) Resilient Landscapes Initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and $100,000 from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.
The Adelard A. Roy and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation gave $7,000 to support our land protection program and the OSI’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative awarded Bear-Paw $7,500 for our a natural resource inventory mapping project.
Thank you all!
By Daniel Kern
With the Manchester city limits just five miles away, you wouldn’t think it possible to build a protected greenway of as much as 22 thousand acres for wildlife and people, but it’s being done. That’s 34 square miles! Bear-Paw Regional Greenways, the State of New Hampshire, the Town of Hooksett, Manchester Water Works, and many others are working together to make it a reality.
This expansive natural area is anchored by Bear Brook State Park and lands owned by Manchester Water Works to protect the Lake Massabesic public water supply. But it was October 2006 when Bear-Paw first got involved when it heard from Steve Couture of the Hooksett Conservation Commission about an opportunity the town had to purchase 200 to 300 acres in the “northeast quadrant” of Hooksett. It was outside Bear-Paw’s original seven-town area, but the property was part of a forest that extended into the region and was a priority in Bear-Paw’s Conservation Plan. The area was also highlighted in Hooksett’s Master Plan and in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan (WAP).
Over the years the “Clay Pond Project” eventually grew to over 711 acres in size including 16 properties and six landowners. Since then we have completed three other acquisitions in the area, bringing the total to 1,462 acres: the Hinman Pond Preserve (471 acres), the Pinkney Hill Preserve in Allenstown (175 acres), and Buxton (105 acres). Even now, Bear-Paw, NH Fish and Game, and Hooksett are working together to protect additional properties in this area. And, Bear-Paw is looking for ways to protect other portions of this important natural area.
So just what is being protected by the creation and expansion of this greenway?
The landscape covers a diverse topography including a variety of wetlands, hills and rocky outcroppings, and caves resulting in diverse vegetative and wildlife assemblages including one of the largest recorded exemplary dry Appalachian oak forest natural communities in the state and a variety of wetland complexes associated with the streams found in the area, beaver impoundments in varying states of age from active to abandoned; peatlands, and an exemplary poor level fen/bog natural community system that surrounds Hinman Pond. The density of vernal pools found in the area combined with a completely unfragmented forested buffer is considered a unique occurrence in New Hampshire.
The unfragmented forest that includes this area is one of the largest remaining in southeastern NH. It provides vital support to the region’s plant and animal life, offering wildlife corridors connecting significant habitats without the hazards of roads. Not only does it support the region’s biodiversity today, the area was highlighted in a recent Nature Conservancy report on climate change; it has been identified as an area likely to provide resiliency against the impacts of climate change so it will likely be just as important 100 years from now.
It’s not just for the wildlife
Conservation of the area provides multiple benefits. Some of the area lies within the Lake Massabesic watershed – the public drinking water supply for nearly 160,000 people. Timber management provides income to local landowners and the logging industry as well as revenue to the State.
The area is also used by local residents and many others visiting Bear Brook State Park for a variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, and many other recreational uses. Recreation and tourism continue to be important contributors to NH’s economy.
You have made it possible!
We have received financial support from a wide variety of sources to complete these projects – from individuals, to private foundations and companies, to the Town of Hooksett, the State of New Hampshire through several programs, and the federal government. However, the contributions of our members provide Bear-Paw with the opportunity to initiate and complete projects like these and are leveraged ten or twenty times.
Without the hard work of countless volunteers and professionals, none of this would have been possible. Bear-Paw will be celebrating these successes and is planning several events in Hooksett later this year.
Clay Pond, Hinman Pond, and Pinkney Hill Supporters
• Davis Conservation Foundation (2 grants)
• Fields Pond Foundation
• McIninch Foundation (2 grants)
• NH Department of Environmental Services
o • Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund (2 grants)
o • Drinking Water Source Protection Program (2 grants)
o • Wetlands Mitigation Funding (2 grants)
• NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (2 grants)
• NH State Conservation Committee Conservation License Plate Program (more than 2 grants)
• Open Space Institute’s Saving New England’s Wildlife Program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (2 grants)
• Samuel P. Hunt Foundation
• Thomas W. Haas Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation
• Town of Candia Conservation Fund
• Town of Hooksett
o • Conservation Fund
o • Conservation Easement Donation
• US Fish and Wildlife Service
• • Landowner Incentive Program
• • Wildlife Restoration Program
• William P. Wharton Trust
• Private Gifts
Calendar of Spring & Summer Events
All programs are free and open to the public. Please pre-register at email@example.com, www.bear-paw.org, or 603.463.9400, unless noted otherwise, so that we can be sure to have adequate materials for everyone or notify participants of any changes.
Off Trail: Outdoor Skills for Land Conservation
April 26 • 9 am–2 pm • Bear-Paw Office and Freese Town Forest, Deerfield
Learn and practice skills such as map and compass reading, understanding property survey maps, and navigating in sometimes unfamiliar and challenging terrain. You will expand your exploratory horizons and bolster your confidence about off-trail navigation. This outdoor skills workshop will be particularly valuable for anyone interested in being a Bear-Paw volunteer easement monitor, as well as anyone wanting to learn more about off-trail navigation. We’ll discuss how and why we monitor our conservation lands and how you can get involved!
Spring Migration Bird Walk
May 10 • 7–9 am • Isinglass River Conservation Reserve, Strafford
In southern NH, the first two weeks in May marks the peak for arrival and pass-through of Neotropical migrants. Come join in the fun identifying beautifully colored migrant songbirds like vireos, warblers, and thrushes. Stephen Hale, Ph.D., a Researcher with the University of New Hampshire, will give tips on binocular use and bird identification by sight as well as an introduction on how to identify some birds by their songs.
June 14 • 10 am–Noon • Strafford School District Easement, Strafford
For its tenth Biothon! teams of Bear-Paw naturalist volunteers and Board members will take to the woods and wetlands of the 290-acre Strafford School District easement. The property includes Hill Pond and several streams that feed into the Mohawk River, an important tributary of the Isinglass River. This annual treasure hunt to identify and catalogue as many plant and animal species as possible on a property helps us discover and promote the biodiversity of the lands Bear-Paw works to protect and to raise money to support our Land Protection program.
Contributors to this year’s Biothon! are invited on a family-friendly exploration of the Strafford School District property and Hill Pond with Annette Schloss, a research scientist from UNH. She’ll lead a walk to uncover the creatures living in the pond and in the stream on the property. We’ll provide nets and discovery scope boxes to capture and examine our finds. This is a trip for kids of all ages! Following the walk participants can join the Bear-Paw naturalist teams at the home of Board member Harmony Anderson for a potluck lunch. Bring food or drink to share and join the party!
Paddle on Wild Goose Pond
June 28 • 9–12 am • Graylag Cabins, Wild Goose Pond, Pittsfield
Join Mark West, a wetland scientist and Bear-Paw board member, for a leisurely paddle on Wild Goose Pond exploring a variety of wetland habitats and learning about aquatic ecology. The trip will leave from Graylag Cabins in Pittsfield (www.graylagcabins.com) – just across the pond from Bear-Paw’s Crooked Run project. Bring your kayak or canoe, life jacket, swim suit and a picnic lunch. Please let us know if you need a boat and we’ll pair you up if we can. Paddling and swimming experience required.
Casting on the Suncook (and we don’t mean fishing!)
September 13 • 2–4:30 pm • Suncook River, Epsom
Popular demand brings a threepeat of our trip to the Suncook River searching for animal tracks and making plaster casts of the prints. Bear-Paw will bring materials for everyone and Board member Lisa Clark will provide the instruction and materials for capturing your souvenir of an animal’s trip.
It’s the 10th Annual Biothon Fundraiser!
June 14 • 7am–Noon • Strafford School District Conservation Property, Strafford
On Saturday, June 14th teams of Bear-Paw naturalist volunteers and Board members will take to the woods and wetlands of the Strafford School District Conservation Property to find, identify and catalogue as many plant and animal species as they can find. With its varied habitats of forest, river, pond, swamp, beaver ponds and steep rocky hillsides, the property holds great promise for this year’s species “treasure hunt.”
You can help make this Biothon! fundraiser a success! Spur the teams on in their quest! Make a contribution beyond your membership for this important work that lets us document the biodiversity we work to protect. Contributions online at www.bear-paw.org, through a board member friend, or with the enclosed envelope, 100% of the proceeds go directly to Bear-Paw’s land protection work. All contributors are invited on a special discovery walk on the property that morning and to the potluck afterward. See the details in the Calendar listing.
Not a member yet? We need you!
We have now protected almost 6,000 acres in our nine-town region. Bear-Paw and its partners have helped local communities secure millions in grants and landowner gifts to complete these projects; but none of this would be possible without our members since most of the grants that we receive go directly to acquisition and transaction costs.
Bear-Paw Regional Greenways is a land trust with a mission to permanently conserve a network of lands that protects our region’s water, wildlife habitat, forests, and farmland. Contributing to Bear-Paw will ensure that you continue to have a local resource to help protect the natural areas that you envision when you think of your town. Please consider becoming a member, or renewing your membership today by returning the enclosed envelope or online at www.bear-paw.org.