The Power of Place

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The Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem, NH will be hosting a movie about Northern Pass called The Power of Place on Thursday, May 14 from 7:30-9:00 p.m. The film was made by New Hampshire conservation photographer and filmmaker Jerry Monkman and is 50 minutes in length. Electricity giant Hydro-Quebec needs to sell more of its electricity to New England and Eversource Energy wants to pitch in by distributing this power to customers in southern New England. To do that the companies have joined forces to build Northern Pass, a 187-mile transmission line that will bisect the state of New Hampshire with high-voltage cable strung between 1500 steel towers rising as tall as 135 feet. The Power of Place tells a compelling story by exploring the issues surrounding Northern Pass – its promise of bringing jobs and cheaper electricity to New England; the fears of those living next to the potential power line corridor; and the visual impact of the towers on iconic New Hampshire landscapes like the White Mountain National Forest, The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the state’s Great North Woods Region. The 50 minute documentary combines interviews with experts and New Hampshire residents with distinctive landscape cinematography of the places that will be impacted.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers as well as experts on the Northern Pass issue.

Tickets: $10, $8 members

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ACT members and volunteers rally against Hydro-Quebec.

 

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Foss Forest Sunday Hike

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View from the top of Foss Forest hike in Sugar Hill.

Looking for a beautiful local hike that is a well-kept secret? Then please join the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) on a fun springtime hike at the ACT owned Foss-Evelyn Forest in Sugar Hill on Sunday, May 31 from 1:00-2:30 p.m.

The Hike will start from the Pearl Lake Road parking area, which is located 1.3 miles west of the intersection of Route 117 and Pearl Lake Road in Sugar Hill. Going from Sugar Hill toward Lisbon, the access is on the left, and will be identified by the hike leader’s red Toyota Prius. Coming from Lisbon, the access is on the right.

Bring your bug dope, children, dog and cameras and be prepared for about 90 minutes of hiking. This will be an uphill hike over moderate terrain with great views at the top.

For more information, please contact Lianna Lee at the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, 603-823-7777, or e-mail outreach@aconservationtrust.org.

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Memorial Day Bird and Breakfast Walk at the Adair Inn

Canada warbler

Canada warbler

Join us for a Memorial Day bird walk at the Adair Inn in Bethlehem on Monday, May 25th!

Everyone is invited to do a bird walk with expert birders through the grounds of the inn, and afterwards enjoy Adair’s sumptuous breakfast.

The bird walk will start at 7 a.m. and the breakfast will be at 8:30 a.m. RSVPs are appreciated for planning! The all-inclusive cost of breakfast is $20. The bird walk is free.

ACT has held a Memorial Day weekend bird walk for a number of years. It’s a great time to hear and see breeding birds including, warblers, tanangers, vireos and thrushes. The Adair property is over 200 acres of fields, wetlands, and forests and it promises to be a lovely walk.

Bring your binoculars, bug dope, and bird book if you have one. We will introduce birding by ear, so bring your ears, too. This walk is suitable for walkers of all ages and will go on paths and trails. Kids are encouraged to join!

To make a reservation to ensure that there will be enough food by Monday the 25th, please call ACT Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at (603) 823-7777 or e-mail her at outreach@aconservationtrust.org by May 22nd to reserve your spot. More details on the bird walk (including cancellation in case of horrid weather) can be found on this website.

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Manage Your Woodlands for Bobcats

bobcat4The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust invites you to attend a talk about bobcats being given by New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Will Staats. The focus of this presentation will be on how to manage your woodlands for bobcats. Pulling on his many years of observing North Country bobcats in the wild, Staats will focus on management techniques landowners can employ in their woodlots and forests to create bobcat-friendly habitats.

The talk will be held at the Franconia Town Hall on Tuesday, May 19 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided by ACT.

During the first part of the 19th century, bobcats were heavily hunted until populations fell precipitously. In 1989, Fish and Game ended the bobcat hunting and trapping seasons to allow populations to recover. The season remains closed in New Hampshire. Data gathered by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game shows bobcats living in every county across the state.

For more information please contact ACT Outreach Coordinator, Lianna Lee at 603-823-5557 or outreach@aconservationtrust.org

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A Day of AMC Shenanigans

The group at the summit of Mt. Willard.

The group at the summit of Mt. Willard.

A group of blindfolded adults smelling trees, pretending to be squirrels dueling it out over acorn stashes, and singing songs about alligators in French accents were spotted along the Mt. Willard trail in Crawford Notch on Saturday, April 18th.

Observed from afar, it might seem their only goal was to laugh and have fun. But in addition to loving an excuse to behave ridiculously, everyone present – a Plymouth State University instructor and two environmental science students, and ACT staff – were learning about environmental education. The workshop was offered by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and its “Mountain Classroom” coordinator Mike Dufilho, who expertly presided over the day.

We had a straightforward mission: step into the shoes of fifth graders and let go of any adult self-consciousness. Rebecca Brown, ACT’s executive director, set the tone for the day with a sudden death contest against a PSU student in vegetable impersonations, doing a great job of channeling her inner beet. After learning a few clever ice breakers, including butts ‘n’ noses where we stood toe-to-toe leaning into our circle trying to shoot a ball through our opponents legs. When the ball made it past our legs, we gave a fact about the White Mountains before turning around with our butts in the air as we peered through our legs once again not allowing the ball through. It was a lot of butts ‘n’ noses. After these irreverent ice breakers we set off to hike Mt. Willard because it was the best place to mimic a lesson that might be taught in the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest.

This spring ACT’s Cooley-Jericho Community Forest in Easton is being turned into an outdoor classroom. Dufilho and other educators from the AMC will be teaching elementary school students from SAU 35 about basic forest ecology. They will also be teaching future teachers. Plymouth State students will join them to learn how to excite kids about the natural world.

The theme of our day on Mt. Willard was “consumers, producers and decomposers.” Mike had a simple flow chart that tied each activity to the lesson plan. Every silly song we sang, game, game, and contest had a specific teaching purpose. If you’ve ever taught, you know how much trial and error goes into good lesson planning.

One of the first activities of the day was being blindfolded, spun around, and disoriented before a partner led us to a tree. Then we used our senses – sniffing, running our hands along the bark, even tasting, to deduce clues of texture, mosses and other irregularities.

Rebecca finding her balsam fir.

Rebecca finding her balsam fir.

Rebecca located her balsam fir in record time, while a PSU student was frog marched by his instructor Rachelle Lyons through deep snow so he could not locate his tree. It was refreshing using specific senses to hone in on a specific tree, when we spend most of our days inside or looking at a computer screen. This activity reset our minds to notice our surroundings, think about plant identification, and the abundance of producers in NH’s forests. It was a good reminder that plants are inextricably linked to the entire cycle of producers, consumers and decomposers.

Rachelle frog marching her student away from his tree.

Rachelle frog marching her student away from his tree.

At certain moments I did roll my eyes silently. Seriously, you want me to use a terrible French accent and sing about alligators? I caved to the peer pressure and dutifully joined in on the camp-y tune. At the end of it the alligator ate the singer’s friend, and thus the idea of predators was sneakily introduced in our consciousness. Later on Mike pointed this out to us and it was an ‘ah-ha!’ moment where you began to realize every activity had a purpose.

About half way up the mountain we stopped and duked it out as red and gray squirrels, plundering acorn reserves (black beans we hid on the forest floor) and trying desperately to survive until April and spring weather. It was a playful example of competition with real world applications.

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View from the summit of Mt. Willard.

Mike will be leading groups of students from SAU 35 through the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest this spring and teaching them about the forest of NH. It will be an exciting adventure for everyone involved, and there will definitely be a great deal of laughing and shenanigans during each outdoor classroom visit.

If you have questions or would like to learn how you can participate in bringing kids outside and exploring the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest, please email ACT Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee, outreach@aconservationtrust.org or call our office at 603-823-7777

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Last Sunday Hike

IMG_0367Join us on Sunday, April 26th to meet new friends and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. At 1 p.m., we’ll start at the log landing at the Foss Forest on Pearl Lake Road,  located 1.3 miles west of the intersection of Route 117 and Pearl Lake Road in Sugar Hill. Going from Sugar Hill toward Lisbon, the access is on the left, and will be identified by the hike leader Rosalind Page’s red Toyota Prius. Coming from Lisbon, the access is on the right. The hike is moderate with a good amount of hills. 

Please bring water, sunscreen, your camera and wear good hiking shoes.

For more information, please call Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at 603-823-7777 or email outreach@aconservationtrust.org

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Woodcock’s Rite of Spring

woodcock

It’s known to pull some North Country people out of their homes at dusk, often with favorite libation in hand, to sit and wait, listening intently.

And when they hear the first sign, to cheer and toast the arrival of spring!

What is this event that so fascinates us? The mating display of the woodcock.

While the size of a very plump robin, streaked brown and black to blend in to the forest floor, the American Woodcock (Scolopax miner) is actually a shorebird.

Describing the woodcock’s mating ritual predictably causes a “you’re pulling my leg” response from the uninitiated. (Or, they could just be laughing at us. You know, the folks who think we’re crazy for living up here in the first place.)

But it’s true. For a bird that’s extremely circumspect the rest of the year, they do go a bit crazy this time of year. Maybe like your shy Uncle Charlie hitting the dance floor after a few toasts at your wedding. Who knew?

The flight pattern of the male woodcock's mating dance.

The flight pattern of the male woodcock’s mating dance.

The woodcock dance goes like this. On his stumpy little legs, the male starts strutting about, bobbing his head, and making a distinctive noise, a loud nasal “peeent!” about every 30 seconds or so, for several minutes. Then he launches himself into the air, gaining altitude and zooming around in wide circles. You can track him by the twittering sounds of the wind vibrating through his outer wingtips. He reaches his apex, then plummets in a corkscrew pattern, all the while emitting warbling and whistling sounds in an ever-increasing pitch. He hits the ground, and then starts all over. Presumably, a female has been judging this display from a modest distance.

Woodcock like early successional forests where there is a good mix of cover and areas where they can probe for food. They also need meadows or fields, or even edges of lawns, where they can perform their mating rituals. At night they will sleep tucked against a tree trunk or beneath a bush where the shelter is good. Tracing back to their shorebird roots, the female hens make indentations in the leaf litter to lay their eggs (clutches of four) much like a plover will along sandy beaches.

If a hen is disturbed early on the risk is high that she’ll abandon the nest. Once the chicks are born, a hen will feign dragging a broken wing along to lure predators away from her brood. Being a plump bird that makes its home on the ground can be risky. Dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and foxes are all predators of woodcock.

The woodcock’s long bill is specially adapted to rummage for grubs, worms, and insects in the leaf litter and in the ground. They also rock up and down before plunging their bills to extract squiggling worms from the ground. It is believed that their rocking motion creates vibrations that make it easier for them to pinpoint where bugs are hiding.

Brontosaurus cuts down an overgrown area of ACT’s MacCornack-Eveylyn Forest in Sugar Hill in 2012. New growth that is better for woodcock is now growing.

Brontosaurus cuts down an overgrown area of ACT’s MacCornack-Eveylyn Forest in Sugar Hill in 2012. New growth that is better for woodcock is now growing.

Woodcock are an important migratory game bird in NH. They are hunted in the fall, and there is a strict bag and time limit as their numbers have been decreasing for years across the northeast, most likely due to habitat loss. NH Fish & Game has offered cost sharing to landowners who improve habitat for woodcock. Several years ago, ACT took advantage of this to hire a brontosaurus – a cutting head mounted on excavator body – to chop through an area that had gotten too dense for the ground dwelling birds. Now, the young alders that woodcock particularly like are growing again. And we’re hearing several of the birds peenting and doing their dance every evening at dusk.

 

 

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Earth Day Planting and Activities for Kids!

earth-dayJoin ACT in a family-friendly Earth Day celebration with activities that are great for little hands.

We’ll be tending to seedling sunflowers, and planting scarlet runner beans in recycled containers. Everyone will have the opportunity to decorate a container and take home a baby sunflower and a bean plant for planting in your own garden. This is a great opportunity for kids to have fun, and go home with a plant that they can nurture from a tiny seedling into a big flower.

We’ll also walk along the Ammonoosuc River loop in Littleton to help clean up the parking lots and areas near the river. Gloves and bags will be provided to everyone who wants to participate.

This event on Saturday, April 18 is at the Loading Dock in Littleton from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Cost of attendance is $5 per person including all art supplies plus healthy snacks provided by ACT. Recommended ages are K-6. Directions to the Loading Dock, which is on Mill Street, can be found at www.theloadingdocknh.org. ACT staff and volunteers and Jason Tors of the Loading Dock will lead the festivities.

Earth Day began in 1970, and it is an important day that is celebrated worldwide to protect the environment. As the North Country’s land trust, forever conserving farms and forests, ACT invites you to join us in celebrating this exciting day.

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Community Forest Management Presentation

View from the Forest across Pearl Lake, Lisbon.

View from the Forest across Pearl Lake, Lisbon.

This meeting will take place on Thursday, April 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Franconia Town Hall. The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust is hosting a public discussion to present the 840-acre Cooley-Jericho Community Forest (CJCF) draft management proposal. ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown, consulting ecologist Jesse Mohr, and other CJCF Stewardship Team representatives will give brief presentations on forest management, wildlife, educational use, and trails.

We welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest. This will also be a great opportunity to learn how the Community Forest can be used as an outdoor classroom at your school. Light refreshments will be provided by ACT.

For more information, e-mail outreach@aconservationtrust.org, or call 603.823.7777

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Johnson Farm Project in the News

We recently closed on a historic dairy farm located in Monroe, NH. Owned by Richard Johnson, the farm has been in his family for six generations. This beautiful 311 acres property is located along the scenic Connecticut River, and is full of rolling fields and excellent agricultural soils.

During the closing ceremony on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 several members of the press were in attendance. Here is a link to a piece done by NHPR. An article was published in The Caledonian-Record, the The Union Leader, and an article and editorial in the Littleton Courier. This article in the White Mountain Record was written by Robert Blechl. For further reading here is a brief fact sheet with more information about the property and a full list of our project grantors compiled by ACT.

Farm from river closeup

The historic Johnson Farm, in Monroe NH. Picture taken from the CT River.

 

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