Johnson Farm and Islands Forever Conserved!

In an exciting bi-state partnership between ACT and the Vermont River Conservancy (VRC), we are pleased to announce that we have conserved a historic farm in Monroe, NH.
johnsonfarmfromisland
Richard Johnson is the owner of this 311-acre property that includes riverine habitats, islands, forests, and great agricultural soils. A dairy farm until the 1990s, today the rich bottomland is used for corn and hay.
This land has been in the Johnson family since about 1800. Mr. Johnson wanted to honor the legacy of his ancestors and ensure that the land stays open and not turned int a development or trophy home site. It’s an excellent example of how ACT can preserve New Hampshire’s landscape and tradition of farming. We did this with a ‘farm-friendly’ easement, meaning farming and forestry are encouraged in the future.
Rolling fields, forests, and riparian zones provide habitats for rare plants, animals, and shorebirds making this land highly ranked by the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan. In total2,248 feet of CT River shore land are protected. On a clear day you might glimpse bald eagles or osprey that nest in the area.
The two islands included in this property will be managed by VRC, to further promote recreation on the river and create a new campsite for the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail.
Farm from river closeup
Funding:

We are thankful for the generosity of our funders who have made this project possible:

Save the date Sunday, July 12th to tour the Johnson Farm and Islands by kayak!

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Learn more by reading this fact sheet: Press Sheet Johnson Farm

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Creature Feature: Mad as a March Hare?

 
Remember the March Hare and his pal the Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
 
Both were a bit crazed – or “mad” as the Cheshire Cat said. The hatter, we may surmise, from mercury poisoning (used in felt making for hats) and the Hare, well, blame it on March.

Hares are normally shy and timid creatures. But suddenly, come March and their breeding season, they’ll be out boxing other hares, hopping about quite heedlessly looking for their true loves, and thumping the ground just because. In other words, acting a bit mad.

March Hare and Hatter stuffing Door Mouse
into a teapot.

The snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) is common in the North Country, particularly in brushy areas and forest edges. Usually not easily seen, they are experts at concealment and often freeze at the approach of a person or predator.

Ecologists use the term crypsis for the ability of an organism to avoid detection. The hare’s cryptic strategy is chromatic: its fur changes color in response to the environment. As daylight decreases, its coat becomes the color of snow for winter.

As daylight increases toward spring, its coat becomes a forest-floor reddish-brown.Year-round, snowshoe hares have coal-black eyes. In snow, you may spot a hare motionless beneath a small evergreen when the snow weighs its boughs down like a little tent. Just look for those black eyes.

Snowshoe hare tracks.

The best telltale for hares are the tracks. The toes on their large, furry feet open wide like snowshoes as they bound along. Their big feet keep them buoyant in the snow, and their powerful haunches can propel them an impressive 27 mph on a high speed getaway from the jaws of lynx, bobcats, coyotes, and dogs.

And yes, hares do breed prolifically. From March until August it is open season for breeding and a female can have 2-3 litters per year of 3-5 leverets (baby hares). For hares it is possible to be ‘mad as a March hare’ for six months of the year.

 

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ACT Hunting Roundtable

ACT is committed to having the public enjoy the land we own in as many ways as possible. Hunting is one of those uses, and keeping land open for hunting is one of our goals. Hunting is part of the heritage of the North Country, a traditional use on many lands, and it is an important contributor to our economy.

Join us on Sunday, March 22nd to participate in this Hunting Roundtable. This conversation will be facilitated by ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown, County Forester David Falkenham, and Bob Mancini of the NH Fish and Game Dept. This event is free and open to the public. 

ACT has conserved over 3,300 acres for the benefit of North Country communities. About two-thirds of that land is privately owned, and ACT holds conservation easements ensuring that the land is always there for people and wildlife. Some of that land is permanently open for hunting. On other properties hunting may or may not be allowed, according to the wishes of the landowners.

We would appreciate hearing the views of hunters and those who enjoy our lands in other ways, including hikers, mountain bikers, and nature watchers.

Among the issues we will be looking at is whether some of our lands are best hunted with permission, whether some, for safety reasons, should not be hunted at all, and whether we ought to allow only certain hunting practices on our lands.

We will give an overview of the lands we own or have under easement where hunting is allowed. We will also look at how we can best work with hunters in our region to conserve lands that are important for game species.

When: Sunday, March 22nd from 4 p.m. onward

WhereWendle’s Deli, Franconia

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Tour of Sugar Hill Maple Farm

Join us on Saturday, March 28th to visit the Sugar Hill Maple Farm on a snowshoe hike of this beautiful farm. The Hunt family and ACT staff will lead the snowshoe hike in the morning. During the afternoon the Hunt family will be giving sugarhouse tours. If the weather is warm enough and sap is running, there will be guided gathering bucket tours in the upper fields. This event is family-friendly and free to the public. 

Gathering sap.

Gathering sap.

Owned by the Hunt Family, and forever conserved by ACT, the Sugar Hill Maple Farm is a land rich in the history of maple sugaring. The Sugar Hill Maple Farm is a real time example of how land conservation plays an important role in maintaining the heritage of the North Country. The Sugar Hill Maple Farm has been home to an operational sugarhouse for over a century, and the Hunts continue this legacy. The farm was conserved by Charlie Stewart in 2004.

When: Saturday, March 28th. Snowshoe hike of the farm fields led by the Hunt family and ACT staff from 10:30- 12:00 noon. Guided sugarhouse tours 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.

Driving Directions: 719 Easton Rd, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. Link to map.

This event is being held in conjunction with the 2015 NH Maple Producers weekend.

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Emerald Ash Borer Workshop for Landowners

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive bug that has been devastating to ash trees throughout New Hampshire. EAB rapidly kills trees during their larval stage by eating their way through the phloem and cambium (live tissues) of a tree. A tree can go from seemingly healthy one week, to a week later nearly dead. In some cases it looks like a gang of woodpeckers have attacked a tree when the adults exit en masse.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

 

We are holding a landowner-focused workshop in collaboration with UNH Cooperative Extension, NH Division of Forests and Lands, and the Sugar Hill Conservation Commission to help people prepare for, understand, and identify EAB. Additionally an Ash tree will be girdled to stress the tree, and we will check back in the Spring during the follow-up to this workshop to see if there are any signs of EAB activity. Forest Health Specialist Molly Heuss, and county Forester David Falkenham will be presenting at this workshop.

When: Wednesday, March 18th from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Sugar Hill Town Hall

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Shaker Village Ash tree and damage wrought by EAB larvae.

This workshop is co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions.

topowl

Please contact ACT Outreach and Membership Coordinator Lianna Lee with any questions at outreach@aconservationtrust.org or 603.823.7777

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Owl Prowl at the Adair Inn

Join us during the full moon on Thursday, March 5th for an Owl Prowl at the Adair Inn in Bethlehem. We will be on the lookout for Barred Owls, and listening closely for other owl calls. After the walk we will gather inside to warm up by the fireplace. Attendees are also welcome to purchase drinks from the bar, and this will be a great opportunity to meet other wildlife enthusiasts.

If you have kids or grandkids, we highly recommend reading  “Owl Moon” to them at some point. Written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr it’s a classic winter tale.

When: Thursday, March 5th from 6:30 PM onward

Driving directions: The Adair Inn, Bethlehem NH

If you have questions about this event, please contact Outreach Coordinator, Lianna Lee, at outreach@aconservationtrust.org or 603.823.7777

Thank you to the Adair Inn for allowing us to use their beautiful grounds for this event!

 

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Last Sunday Hike at 1 PM

Our Last Sunday of the month walks are a great way to meet new friends and enjoy the land. Join us on February 22nd for a delightful winter hike. 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.

Dress warmly, and bring your snowshoes, binoculars, children, dogs, and camera, and be prepared to be out for about 90 minutes. This will be an easy hike through moderate terrain with great views.

For more information, please call ACT Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at 603-823-7777.

In the event of inclement weather such as rain or freezing rain, the event will be cancelled, but feel free to call 603-838-6520 for confirmation on Sunday morning.

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Creature Feature

Who cooks for you? Who cooks for youuuaallll? 
You can hear the unmistakable call of the barred owl throughout the year, but they’ll really get revved up in the next few weeks as their mating season begins. Come to ourFull Moon Owl Walk March 5th, 6:30 p.m. at The Rocks in Bethlehem. 

Barred Owls

Barred owls are slightly larger in size than a barn owl.

NH’s most common owl, the barred owl (Strix varia) sports horizontal bars running across its chest, vertical stripes down its belly, and a smooth round head – no”ears”or tufts.

In addition to the familiar “Who cooks for you?”

call, barred owls engage in rather dramatic caterwauling during their courtship, which begins in February. Breeding starts in March and goes through the summer.

Barred owls tend toward monogomy. They like to nest in cavities in snags (large dead trees) within dense forests. Here at ACT we manage our land to keep and sometimes even create such trees for owls and other wildlife.

Two to four eggs are laid per clutch, and the female incubates them for four weeks. A few weeks after hatching, fuzzy owlets start exploring outside the nest, perambulating nearby tree limbs by grasping on with their beaks and their particularly adapted feet (here’s a video  of owlets out and about).  Owls’ unique ability to arrange their talons with two in front and two in back, or three in front and one in back, makes perching and striking down prey easy work.

At about six weeks old, the young are ready to venture forth into the world on their own, and fledge. This coincides with the natural increase in populations of owls’ favorite prey, including red squirrels, mice, voles, mink, and even young hares, skunks, and other birds. Barred owls may even catch crayfish near the water’s edge.

We all grew up with the image of the “wise old owl.” Their steady, impenetrable gaze certainly gives the impression of deep thought. Biomechanically, owls are remarkable. A lot of the magic happens from their neck up. Imagine their heads as dish antennas that are specially engineered to let them hear and see where their prey may be lurking.

Their head feathers are arranged to magnify sounds, so they can easily hear the smallest prey rustling about. The extremely photosensitive eyes that give them excellent night vision take up half their skull. Because these huge eyes are actually tube shaped, owls can’t roll their eyes – instead they can swivel their necks an astounding 270-degrees. They lock their eyes on sounds of would-be prey. Then with speed and silence they swoop down to grab it. This winter, look carefully in the woods and open fields where there are rodent tracks, and you may well find the imprint of owl wings in the snow.

The barred owl is ranked as a species of “least concern” in NH, meaning the population is steady. They are a very adaptable species, but their greatest threat is the loss of forested landscapes and the open marshland where they like to hunt and nest.

Here’s a link to a live webcam of a Great Horned Owl nest with chicks in Georgia. Though uncommon up here (you’re more likely to find them in southern NH), the great horned is actually a predator of the barred owl.

The barred owl is a magnificent creature, and because they are non-migratory and maintain a territory, your chances of spotting one is quite good.

***Join us for our Full Moon Owl Walk on March 5th at the Rocks Estate at 6:30 PM!***

 

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Community Forest Hike Feb. 7

Winter is a great time to explore the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest! Everyone is invited to a hike on Saturday, Feb. 7 from  1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

The hike will start from the end of Jim Noyes Hill Road in Landaff. Park along the road, but carpool if possible as parking is limited. If you want to walk in from the Sugar Hill side, park at the end of Dyke Road, follow the Class VI road and meet up at the big log landing by 2 p.m.

The hike will be led by ACT board member and naturalist Steve Sabre and Executive Director Rebecca Brown.

We've seen a lot of bobcat tracks this winter.

We’ve seen a lot of bobcat tracks this winter.

Depending on snow conditions, bring your snowshoes, XC skis, camera, kids, and dogs – and dress warm! Be prepared for a steady but not difficult uphill walk (though it could be icy in some places).

Moose and deer abound on this land, and we may get lucky and find tracks of bobcat and fisher, and we will be on the lookout for the elusive American marten. If we are exceptionally lucky we may find the track of a lynx.

For more information, contact Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at  603-823-7777, e-mail outreach@aconservationtrust.org.

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Stewardship Team Meetings

Stewardship Team Meetings

EASTON – This series of meetings is designed to help educate our Stewardship Team about the ecosystem management units and wildlife management in the Community Forest. All meetings are being led by our consulting ecologist, Jesse Mohr of Native Geographic. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Forest is welcome to attend. More information is here.

Where: Easton Town Hall

When: January 28th from 5:30-7:30

Documents to Read: Mohr has provided us with a few pages of reading that will make it easier to understand the different management unites that exist within the Forest. Please click the links below to view the PDF files.

CJCF Compartment NotesDevelopment Stage

This is a link to a photo guide of NH’s natural communities.  If you have the chance, take a look at a few of the descriptions and photos.  Northern Hardwood-spruce-fir forest, high elevation spruce-fir forest, lowland spruce-fir forest, red spruce swamp, northern hardwood seepage forest, and sugar maple-beech-yellow birch forest are the more widespread communities in the CJCF.

MapEcosystem Management Units

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