Click here for a link to a PDF of the latest newsletter. Previous issues can be found at the bottom of this page.
Where’s Our Next Project?
By Daniel Kern
It’s been ten years since Bear-Paw led an effort to map the then 177-thousand acre, seven-town region’s natural resources – drinking water supplies, wetlands and surface waters, wildlife and plant habitat, productive farmland, forestland, and other natural features. Bear-Paw identified the region’s most important natural resource areas and we found that very little of the land that held them was protected.
In 2008, Bear-Paw took that data along with information from the NH Wildlife Action Plan (WAP), the Plan for NH’s Coastal Watersheds, and other information to complete its strategic Conservation Plan. The Plan identifies those areas for Bear-Paw to focus its conservation efforts on. Bear-Paw is now taking another look at its now nine-town region’s 214-thousand acres to identify those areas that are the most important to conserve. This project will reproduce natural resource inventory (NRI) maps that have guided conservation efforts in the region for over ten years. The maps will identify the region’s most important ecological, biological, and water resources and include information on wildlife habitat, wetlands and water resources, and agricultural lands.
The natural resource inventory will incorporate the latest available data from the NH Wildlife Action Plan and other information available. We will also be looking at incorporating the latest climate change resiliency data produced by the Nature Conservancy. Their study, Resilient Sites for Terrestrial Conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Region, identified areas with an above average ability to maintain ecological functions and a diversity of native species, even as the species composition changes in response to climate. We think that using the resiliency data may help assure that the properties protected today will still be valuable conservation areas 100 years from now.
Bear-Paw will work with its member towns to update the NRI maps and distribute them in a large format for the towns to display and use for conservation planning. The maps and our outreach efforts will help improve understanding of the natural environment, climate change and resiliency, as well as cultivate a broad public stewardship ethic. We are really looking forward to working with our member towns on this project! We will be sharing the maps, the information used to create them, and the resiliency data with our towns and conservation partners this winter and spring.
The Bear-Paw region is rich in natural resources but they are at risk. Population growth and development reduces, fragments, and degrades habitats that are essential for wildlife and fish; contributes to water pollution; alters natural sediment flows; and puts more people and property at risk from natural hazards. Water, in particular, is vulnerable to the cumulative impacts that are associated with development.
Given the pace of growth and development, Bear-Paw must continue to take the lead to permanently conserve our most significant lands and waters. Protecting the lands identified in the NRI maps will take additional resources – more funding, more staff time, and more volunteer effort; however, Bear-Paw is always working to secure the support needed.
Bear-Paw Regional Greenways is a community-based organization that gives landowners a local choice. It is a land trust with close contacts to the Towns that it serves and with the ability to work on projects that statewide organizations or organizations based outside the region might not have the resources to complete. We will be visiting our member town’s Conservation Commissions and other organizations to discuss the natural resource inventory map project this winter and presenting the maps to the public this spring.
Bear-Paw recently received one of four Education and Outreach Leadership grants that the Open Space Conservancy awarded to examine ways that climate change resiliency science can be integrated with conservation planning and guide conservation on the ground. The Open Space Conservancy’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative was made possible by a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Resilient Landscapes Initiative seeks to educate, train, and build the capacity of land trusts working to respond to climate change and to direct $5.5 million in capital to pilot sites that will provide refuge for plants and animals.
A Note from the Chair
This issue of the newsletter is packed with information about the work of Bear-Paw, and our impact on this region where we live. From the application of climate change resiliency science, to the influence of land protection on the preservation of turtles and other species, we do have the ability to help this world to be a better place for all life!
The question is, how do we each respond? Are we one of the over 300 members of Bear-Paw who write a check once a month, or once a year, to support this important work? Are we willing to volunteer a couple of hours a month to serve on one of the committees that keeps this organization going? Have we included Bear-Paw in our estate plans like the Eaton family that is profiled here? These are just a few ways to respond, but respond we must.
New Volunteers Learn the Skills for Conservation Easement Monitoring
First Class: “How Not to Get Lost in the Woods”
Conservation successes bring increasing responsibilities to a land trust. Bear-Paw now holds conservation easements on 42 properties encompassing more than 5,000 acres. Some are large public properties owned by towns and some are smaller ones in private ownership. Every one of these properties must be walked every year as part of Bear-Paw’s ongoing monitoring responsibility to see that the guidelines of each easement document are still in effect.
Recognizing the need for additional qualified volunteers, Frank Mitchell and the Land Protection Committee set up a program with workshops for proper training. The first one, “Outdoor Skills for Land Conservation” was held on April 27th led by Frank, Mark West, and Bob Strobel with 23 guests.
Bear-Paw board member Lisa Clark was among them and reported from the event:
“We began with learning to plot a compass course from topographic and aerial maps to various points of interest. Next we were introduced to basic woods safety and navigation skills using both compass and GPS. Everyone then went outside to learn how to pace off distances accurately. It was comical to see how badly we did at first, but we quickly improved with instruction. Then we were off to Freese Town Forest to navigate through the woods using only a map and compass to find various points including a beautiful wetland and a surprise which turned out to be a historic maple sugaring site measuring only a few square feet in size. We were all quite proud of ourselves for finding it with our newfound skills. It was really a fun day and also very productive in terms of learning some extremely useful skills in just a few hours’ time. Smiles all around!”
Protect Your Land!
Last year, Bear-Paw received a grant from the Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet Fund and John F. & Dorothy H. McCabe Environmental Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to help expand our landowner outreach efforts. The grant partially funded a two-year contract with Phil Auger focusing on working with landowners on potential land protection projects in our conservation priority areas.
Phil has been contacting many of the landowners in Bear-Paw’s nine-town region who own land in our conservation focus areas to introduce or re-introduce them to the organization and offer them free information on land conservation. Phil helps interested landowners and their families understand what options are available to them to protect their land. If you want to learn more about conserving your land, please contact the Bear-Paw office today.
Phil will also be offering two field trips this fall to discuss conservation options “on the ground.” He’ll visit two properties with Bear-Paw conservation easements and talk about how the process of land protection works, the steps to complete a project, assistance available, and how families can get started. Participants are encouraged to bring their questions!
The Bear-Paw Region—A Good Place for Turtles?
The Bear-Paw region has both threats and promise for our native turtles. On the one hand, according to US census data from 2000 and 2010, New Hampshire is still the fastest growing of the northeastern states with a growth rate of 6.5 percent in the decade. Six of our nine towns, Strafford, Northwood, Nottingham, Deerfield, Epsom and Hooksett had growth rates of ten percent or greater. Even with the economic slowdown, development continued in New Hampshire and that usually means more roads, more houses, and more people—new hazards for the area’s animals. Turtles are territorial and have long memories. Folks in a new suburban development may well find a Blandings turtle wandering across their new backyard or driveway trying to recognize what used to be her old neighborhood.
On the other hand, the Bear-Paw region is still rich with safe and appropriate habitat for turtles. Our region has the largest and the greatest number of unfragmented forest blocks left in southeastern New Hampshire. Unfragmented blocks of forest or other habitat are large areas without roads, houses, businesses or other human habitation. They tend to contain diverse and interconnected wetlands and upland habitats and support great biodiversity. Best of all for their wild residents, there is little danger from roads.
Some of these big blocks are the valuable and permanently protected Pawtuckaway, Bear Brook, and Northwood Meadows State Parks. Just as valuable, though not yet permanently protected, are many others. Three of the largest with 7,000 or more acres are the Nottingham Mountain block in Epsom and Deerfield, the Barn Door Gap block in Strafford, and the Parker/Evans Mountain block also in Strafford. In addition there are two dozen other unfragmented blocks of between 1,000 and 6,000 acres. These are all focus areas for the Bear-Paw mission, and portions of many of them have been protected in the last ten years.
As your support makes fulfilling Bear- Paw’s mission of creating protected greenways possible – the turtles won’t realize it, of course – we are working for them, for clean water, and for working forests and farms.
Every Turtle Matters
By Lisa Clark (with Chris Bogard)
Bear-Paw supporter and licensed wildlife rehabilitator Christine Bogard is not your average turtle fan. For more than a dozen years, Chris has devoted countless hours to providing turtles with life-saving medical care. Chris currently cares for about two dozen injured turtles in her home where she works to restore them back to health for eventual release to the wild. When I visited her, several local turtle species were enjoying some outdoor time on her sunny deck in scrupulously clean and well-secured enclosures. She shares her living room with a 15-pound female snapping turtle still recovering seven years after the top quarter of her shell was sheared off in an accident. An upstairs bedroom has been converted into a long-term care facility, strongly resembling a hospital nursery, where turtles recuperating from various injuries, some horrific, are lovingly and expertly cared for. Each patient enjoys a private enclosure with its own sun lamp; a towel draped over the base of each container provides shade and privacy. The containers rest side-by-side on open shelves topped with plants under sunny windows. In this very appealing and restful setting, the injured turtles recuperate for as long as they need to, which often is a period of one year.
Automobile collisions account for a majority of the injuries, although dogs and other animals may also inflict grave wounds. Chris carefully lifted turtles to show me their injuries: cracked shells, sometimes with large pieces entirely missing, puncture wounds, and missing or paralyzed limbs. With proper care, turtles have an amazing capacity for healing and regeneration, sometimes surviving even grave wounds that leave viscera exposed. Chris emphasizes however, that this is not a do-it-yourself job. Chris, who holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, has received many years of formal training, working first under the guidance of Dr. Barbara Bonner, a pioneering turtle veterinarian at the Turtle Hospital of New England in Upton, MA, and currently with Dr. Charles Innis of the New England Aquarium. Although she cleanses wounds, mends shells and administers medications on her own, all of her work is done in partnership with a local veterinarian and Dr. Innis.
Turtles are truly ancient animals that evolved their shelled form more than 200 million years before mammals emerged on the earth. Sadly, more than half of turtle species throughout the world are now facing extinction. As Chris explains, the survival of turtle populations is highly dependent upon the extra ordinary ability of individual turtles to live very long lives: up to 50-100 years. Yet a combination of factors leaves turtle populations vulnerable to decline. They do not become reproductively mature until a relatively late age: 4-10 years or more for our native Snapping and Painted turtles, and 10-15 years for the less common Wood and Blanding’s turtles. To put this into perspective, consider that by the time a Northern Snapping turtle breeds for the first time, more than 10 generations will have passed for mammals such as a squirrel or deer. Loss of an adult also means losing that individual’s genetic information – possibly forever if there are no surviving offspring. Also, turtle eggs and hatchlings, which receive no maternal care, are extremely vulnerable to predation. Up to 99% are destroyed by a range of predators. Turtle populations persist in spite of these pressures only because certain long-lived individuals manage to beat the odds and reproduce.
Unfortunately, the turtle strategy isn’t working in today’s world, which is why Chris strongly believes that the life of every turtle matters. Turtles have no defense against more recent threats such as automobiles, habitat loss, and intense poaching by humans. Turtles need our help and decreasing road mortality is an important step. With fall in the air, turtles will be on the move again as they seek a place to hibernate. What we can all do to help is to drive more slowly through wetland areas. If you find an injured turtle, contact a licensed rehabilitator such as Chris right away – don’t try to care for it yourself! And finally, your continued support of organizations such as Bear-Paw, that work to preserve wetlands, is key.
As Chris points out, without a safe habitat to release the turtles back into, what’s the point of saving them?
Meet Chris Bogard and learn more about her work by attending Bear-Paw’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 25th.
Bear-Paw Wants You...and your friends!
Bear-Paw has well over 300 members but with over 56,000 residents throughout the nine town region we serve, we think that we could be doing better! Less than one percent of the region’s residents are Bear-Paw members so we need your help spreading the word.
How can you do that?
• When you’re done reading this newsletter, share it with a neighbor or someone else you know that may be interested in supporting our efforts!
• Give a Bear-Paw membership to one of your friends or neighbors– we will acknowledge your gift and provide them with a new member package.
• Like Bear-Paw on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bearpawregionalgreenways)!
• Follow Bear-Paw on Twitter (@BearPawTweets)!
Renew your membership or join today!
Create a lasting gift by making a bequest or planned gift to Bear-Paw and becoming a member of our Leaving Tracks Legacy Society. Help ensure that your favorite places are still here for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. What will your legacy be?
A Bequest Society Profile—The Eaton Family
As a kid living in a suburban neighborhood on the Exeter, Hampton border, Paul Eaton could leave his backyard and play for hours in a big stretch of nearby woods. He grew up feeling that that everyone should have that opportunity, and consequently he values the Bear-Paw mission of protecting and connecting large forests. Putting that value into a continuing legacy for the future, Paul and his wife Beth were happy to name Bear-Paw as part of their estate planning.
Paul, his wife Beth, and children Devin, Hannah and Parker have lived in Strafford now for 14 years. Paul is an IT specialist for Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, and Beth is a
paraprofessional at the Strafford School where Parker is in fifth grade. Hannah is a junior at Coe-Brown, but the nest is beginning to empty as just this summer the Eaton’s oldest son Devin went off to Westminster College in Utah.
Several years ago the Eatons, in partnership with another local family, bought a 50-plus acre property in the Spruce Pond section of Strafford where, as yet, neither family lives. So far, however, it’s a great place for a garden and especially for the John Deere tractor the Eaton’s winning bid brought home from the 2012 Bear-Paw auction.
Turning Contributions into Conservation
In case you ever wondered if those checks you’ve been sending to Bear-Paw over the years really make a difference, take a look at the data on the graph below. Clearly we can see that just as your member support has grown, so have our conservation successes. Thank you!
Bear-Paw continues to see an increase in the number of opportunities to work with landowners, towns, NH Fish and Game and others on conservation projects. Your continuing and growing support will allow us to expand our land protection efforts so that we have the resources to respond to these opportunities as they arise.
Calendar of Fall & Winter Events
All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Please pre-register at email@example.com, www.bear-paw.org or 603.463.9400 so the we can be sure to have adequate materials for everyone or notify participants of any changes.
Nature Walk & Picnic at Cumings Conservation Center
October 26 • 10 am–1 pm • Cumings Conservation Center, Deerfield
Please join Bear-Paw for a morning walk and picnic at the Cumings Conservation Center. Participants will explore some of the many habitats found there as well as exhibits at the Center, followed by a picnic.
Growing the Greenways Auction
November 2 • 7–10 pm • The American Legion Hall 1044 Short Falls Road, Epsom, NH
Please join us for our second auction!
What’s a Conservation Easement? How can it work for you, your family, and your property?
Bear-Paw is offering two informative fieldtrips for landowners, their families, and others interested in learning about how conservation can work for them. Conservation easements allow families to permanently protect their land from development while retaining ownership.
For all those who have been thinking about doing something to protect their land or helping to protect land in their town, this will be an opportunity to get expert advice from Phil Auger, a retired UNH Cooperative Extension Educator and land protection specialist. Please pre-register so that we can provide enough materials for everyone.
Ed and Ruth Fowler Easement, Candia
November 16 • 9–11 am
Ed and Ruth donated a conservation easement on their 63-acre woodlot with 1,250 feet of frontage on Palmer Road in 2007. The property is heavily wooded with several streams meandering through it.
Harvey and Barbara Harkness Easement, Epsom
December 14 • 9–11 am
Harvey and Barbara donated conservation easement on 62 acres of their property on Baybutt Road in 2009. The land has a wide variety of wildlife habitats with prime agricultural soils in field, mixed forest, and over 1,000 feet of frontage on Deer Brook.
Join us for our annual meeting!
Saturday, January 25, 2014 • 9 am–3:30 pm • Coe-Brown Northwood Academy
Please join Bear-Paw at our Annual Meeting to hear a presentation by licensed wildlife rehabilitator Chris Bogard who will speak about her work with injured turtles. Chris will bring a slide show and several of her patients with her and explain the methods she uses that can sometimes heal even severe injuries and allow release of the turtle back into its natural habitat.
The meeting also includes an update on conservation successes of the past year and news of projects in the works. We’ll have the usual home-baked treats for coffee time in the morning as well as the hearty hot lunch of those crock pot dishes provided by the board members and volunteers, and a snowshoe hike in the afternoon.
There will be tables of raffle items to be won that day, and Bear-Paw welcomes donations from artists, writers, and craftspeople. Please call Dan Kern at 463.9400 or contact one of our Board members if you’d like to contribute to this fun and fundraising part of the Annual Meeting. We hope to see you there!
Winter Walk – Hinman Pond Preserve
February 22, 2014 • 1–3:30 pm
Hinman Pond Preserve, Hooksett
This winter excursion to Bear-Paw’s newest preserve, the Hinman Pond property in Hooksett, will offer an opportunity to explore the clues that plants, animals, weather and other natural forces leave behind after a growing season and over time. This ecological exploration will be led by Bear-Paw volunteer Frank Mitchell, a Land and Water Conservation Specialist. On this outing, we will be examining the ways plants and animals survive winter, seeking examples in animal tracks and signs and plant adaptations. We’ll consider how the forest we see today can inform us about its history and its probable future. The afternoon will also feature discussion of how the collaboration between Bear-Paw and federal and state conservation organizations enabled this large conservation project to be completed. This will be a moderate walk if the ground is bare and somewhat strenuous on snowshoes or skis (bring either if conditions are suitable).
"Spring 2013 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2012 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2012 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2011 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2011 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2010 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2010 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2009 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2009 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2008 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2008 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2007 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2007 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2006 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2006 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2005 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2005 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2004 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2004 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2003 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2003 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2002 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2002 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Fall 2001 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)
"Spring 2001 Bear-Paw Print" (PDF)