Bird Walk and Hike Sunday May 26

Everyone is invited to come explore the proposed Cooley – Jericho Community Forest on Sunday, May 26. This will be a great time to see this magnificent land and see some of the birds breeding there.

The hike will start at 9 a.m. the end of Dyke Road (heading west, up hill) in Sugar Hill. We’ll walk up the Class VI road and then a gravel road into Landaff, and then up into the community forest property on old skid roads.  Plan for about 3 hours.

Canada warbler

Canada warbler

The proposed Cooley – Jericho Community Forest is 840 acres of young forest with patches of mature spruce and fir – perfect for bird species including Canada warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, woodpeckers, hawks, and animals including bear, moose, bobcat, and American marten.

The towns of Easton, Franconia, Landaff, and Sugar Hill all voted to support the acquisition of the property for permanent conservation and public recreation at their towns meetings this March. The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust has been working with local residents who represent user groups including mountain biking and backcountry skiing to raise the funds to purchase the property.

According to ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown, the fund raising campaign is nearing its goal to close on the property early this summer, and there will be a final push to raise the necessary funds in the next few weeks.

For Sunday’s hike, kids and dogs are welcome! Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and bug dope, and binoculars and a bird guide if you have them. Also please bring your 4-wheel drive vehicle, which gives us the option of driving up part of the way to the property.

For more information, please see www.townforest.org, or call ACT volunteer Angela Broscoe at cell # (978) 828-5903.

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ACT Joins National Insurance Program

We announced a few months ago that we are now a nationally accredited land trust. One of the benefits of this for ACT  is that we automatically qualify for a new, national insurance program to help protect land forever.  seal_green

The program is through a first-of-its-kind liability insurance company, called Terrafirma, which was created to help small, nonprofit land trusts like ours cover potentially costly court battles to defend conservation lands.

ACT accepts conservation easements from private landowners. We also accept donations of property for us to own as conservation land. In both these instances, ACT makes a promise to fulfill the wishes of the donating family, and to protect these lands permanently for the benefit of our region and communities. This is why we create a legal defense and stewardship fund for each property we conserve.

But given the high costs of litigation, the land trust community nationwide realized that these stewardship and legal defense funds need to be augmented, and the idea of Terrafirma took shape. Being a member of Terrafirma and its national umbrella of protection enhances our financial and legal resources to defend our promise of permanent stewardship and legal defense of our conservation land. Going through the accreditation process as we did was proof enough to the insurers that our projects are well documented and well managed, so our nearly 3,000 acres of conserved land was enrolled into the insurance program which started this year.

 

 

 

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Snowshow Hike and Animal Tracking this Sunday

Everyone is invited to join a snowshoe hike on the proposed Cooley-Jericho Community Forest this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m.

The hike will start from the parking area at the end of Trumpet Round Road in Sugar Hill. Trumpet Round is off of Jericho Road, which is a left turn as you head uphill on Dyke Road.

American marten

American marten

Bring your snowshoes, camera, kids, and dogs. This hike will be good for people of all ages. It will go uphill through young conifers and a mixed hardwood forest. Moose and deer abound on this land, and we may get lucky and find tracks of bobcat and American marten. If we are exceptionally lucky we may find the track of a lynx.

Smaller than a fisher and stouter than a weasel, American martens (also called pine martens) are a rare and important species in New Hampshire. They were nearly trapped out, but have rebounded after being reintroduced. Their numbers are still small enough, and their status uncertain enough, that they are listed as “threatened” in the state.

According to NH Fish & Game, marten are of particular concern because of their status as an “umbrella species.” Their large range and sensitivity to disturbance make them broad indicators of ecosystem health. Marten have been seen in the vicinity of the community forest, which is 840 acres in Easton with access through Sugar Hill and Landaff. Martens like large tracts of open space.

Sunday is a great opportunity to see the rugged and beautiful land of the proposed community forest, and to get some exercise before the Super Bowl!. A planning committee of residents of Easton, Sugar Hill, Lisbon, Landaff, Bethlehem, and Franconia, along with ACT,  has been working hard to create the community forest and raise funds for its acquisition.

For more information call us at 603-823-7777, e-mail rbrown@aconservationtrust.org, or see www.townforest.org. Please send us an e-mail or leave a phone message that you will be joining the hike (hot chocolate and snacks will be provided) and also so we may contact you in case of really horrid weather. Any last minutes changes will also be on the website.

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ACT is an Accredited Land Trust!

We are very proud to announce that we have been awarded certification by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the national organization dedicated to establishing and guiding the best practices for land conservation organizations.

This is actually an enormous achievement for ACT. We are only the fifth land trust in New Hampshire – and seal_greenby far the youngest and smallest – to become accredited. We join 180 accredited land trusts nationwide. The accreditation program was established five years ago, and ACT vowed to go through the long and demanding process. Board members, staff members, and volunteers all invested a great deal of time and energy. We are now a stronger  organization having gone through this.

Accredited land trusts meet national standards of excellence detailed in the Land Trust Alliance Standards & Practices. ACT was accredited after going through an extensive external review of our governance, management, systems, and policies that we use to protect lands forever.

We now proudly display the public seal of approval indicating we are accredited.

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Thanks for a Great Annual Celebration!

Thanks to all who made ACT’s annual celebration at the Horse & Hound such as success. Special thanks to Franconia artist and ACT member Lynn Bart. Her original painting of the view of Pearl

ACT Board V.P. Chuck Phillips auctions off the painting donated by Lynn Bart.

Lake from the top of the proposed Cooley – Jericho Forest sold at our live auction – Chuck Phillips, auctioneer! – for $500. The generous and lucky bidder was Hank Peterson of Littleton. Proceeds go toward acquisition of the forest.

Rebecca Brown, executive director of ACT, Hank Peterson of Littleton, artist Lynn Bart of Franconia, and ACT President Rosalind Page of Lisbon.

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Annual Dinner Oct. 27 – SOLD OUT but . . .

You are welcome to join us for the social hour and h’ors d’oeuvres and presentation of highlights of our major initiatives. THANK YOU to all who inquired and we are sorry we cannot accommodate you! 

Saturday Oct. 27, 6 pm. Horse & Hound Inn in Franconia.

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In Memory of Margo Sweet

ACT is honored and humbled to be a recipient of donations in memory of Margo Sweet,

Margo Sweet

1945 – 2012. Margo was the sister of long-time ACT member and friend Susan Lombard of Lyman, who also passed away this year. The sisters loved  northern NH, especially Pittsburg where they spent summers growing up.  Margo devoted herself to work in the fields of public service and education, working at number of Boston area institutions including Harvard’s Kennedy School, and most recently at Brandeis. In addition to her dedication to people and community, Margo had a lifelong love of animals and nature and travel throughout New England.

Donations may be made here.

Connecticut River, Pittsburg, N.H.

 

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Pettyboro Farm Conserved in Lyman

Pettyboro Farm

We are tremendously pleased to present Pettyboro Farm, 160-plus acres in Lyman conserved through the generosity of Bill and Lorraine Hanaway. This project, along with the Godfrey Memorial Conservation Area and Gardner Mountain, conserves 1,500 acres of crucial bat habitat in Lyman – in addition to providing splendid views, habitat for other wildlife, and in the case of the two former farms, the opportunity for agricultural use in the future. Read more about Pettyboro Farm and see more photos here.

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No Pass!

We remain steadfast in our opposition to the Northern Pass. It’s wrong for the North Country and wrong for New Hampshire. Let us count the ways…it’s corporate welfare for PSNH…a private project, no public policy policy required…it’s old-fashioned dependence on a foreign power…it’s old-fashioned transmission lines…it bestows no benefits at all on the North Country…it treats as as a conduit, as simply ground to be covered in the way…

Here are two photos from the Hands Across NH event in September:

Northern Pass protest in Easton. Lots of ACT members participated. Mickey DeRham photos

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Brontosaurus Works for Woodcock

Release: June 6, 2012

SUGAR HILL – The extremely loud growling, grinding sound of a Brontosaurus is music to the ears of woodcock, the odd little birds that put on such an amazing mating display in the early spring – and is still going on in old fields and meadows around the North Country.

Brontosaurus at work - chomp, grind, spit.

The “brontosaurus” in this case is mechanical: a powerful rotating cutting head operated from an excavator, feller buncher, or similar heavy equipment. Its steel teeth chew up and spit out brush, saplings, and even small trees. It is used to clear land. In the case of the woodcock, it is used to create habitat.

Woodcock are a gamebird, and their numbers in New Hampshire and elsewhere have been falling. Biologists point toward habitat loss as the culprit. As forests mature, they become less attractive to woodcock. When open fields become house sites, woodcock move on. NH Fish & Game is assisting landowners to use a brontosaurus to reclaim and promote habitat for woodcock.

In Sugar Hill, Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust used NH Fish & Game cost sharing funds to put a brontosaurus to work reclaiming a section of ACT land that has been very good woodcock habitat but was becoming too overgrown for the ground-dwelling birds.

Woodcock (Scolopax minor), sometimes called timberdoodles, are short, stout shorebirds about the size of a plump robin. They’ve been on their singing grounds for nearly two months. Their mating performance is a rite of spring – one that North Country residents look forward to every year.

Wildlife biologist Will Staats marking apple trees for no cut.

It’s a rather dramatic performance. The male launches himself into the air, and then high above the ground swirls, twirls, and twitters with his wings, and finally plunges back toward the earth, chirping as he falls. Back on the ground, he walks about making a distinctive “peent” sound as he walks about. All this happens at dusk and dawn.

Woodcock have fairly particular habitat preferences for their amorous pursuits. Being short legged, they need open ground where they can walk about and then explode into the air. Fields, tending toward becoming overgrown, are where the males can strut along, and where the females can watch.

For nest building and raising their young, feeding, and roosting, woodcock like the adjacent uplands, young forest where they have cover from predators, but enough open ground to use their long bills to probe for worms and other invertebrates.

Steel grinding teeth on rotating head.

ACT hired brontosaurus operator John Dupuis, owner of JD Logging in Groveton. He thinned an area of thick alders and an old orchard that are part of its MacCornack-Evelyn Forest off Pearl Lake Road in Sugar Hill. Regenerating alder are an important cover for woodcock feeding.  As alder there aged, its stems grew parallel to the ground, allowing more sunlight into the understory and resulting in a thick layer of undergrowth. Thick grasses and brambles prevent woodcock from probing to find their favorite food, earthworms.

“We’ve seen fewer woodcock here the last few years, as the alders were falling over and the groundcover has gotten thicker and thicker,” observed ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown. “By opening this land up with the brontosaurus, we’re hoping they’ll come back. We’re keeping track of their numbers this spring, and will continue to.”

Post-brontosaurus, late fall 2011.

“When you cut alder stems back close to their base, a lot of new shoots come up from the stump that will grow into thick cover,” said Jill KIlborn, a Fish & Game wildlife biologist who along with colleague Will Staats marked the area for the brontosaurus. “We also released the fruit bearing trees and shrubs like apple, hawthorn and shadbush. All sorts of wildlife love these trees.”

For more information on Fish & Game cost sharing, contact the Lancaster office at 788 3164.  If you’d like to visit ACT’s land where the brontosaurus was used, call us at 823-7777, or see video and photos on-line at www.aconservationtrust.org.

 

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