May 14, 2013
What does conservation leadership look like on the ground? Farrell Farm is an appropriate and inspiring place to convene for UVLT’s annual meeting and conservation celebration. Conserved in 1989, the farm has historically played a vital part of the region’s economy – and continues to do so. Today the red barns and scenic fields support beef, hay and corn production as well as growing fruit and vegetables for the CSA and farmstand at Killdeer Farm.
Farrell Farm is one of the few places in New England where the conservation of working farmland and the development of single-family affordable housing has occurred on the same property. UVLT’s conservation project, 25 years ago was unprecedented. Community leaders and staff from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, which provided funding for the project, will be on hand to talk about current partnerships and synergy in conservation.
We’ve got a variety of activities planned: bike and walking tours; a roundtable discussion about farmland conservation; a dinner featuring seasonal, local produce and organic beef from the conserved Winsome Farm in Piermont; music and social time; awards, election of UVLT Trustees, and a summary of UVLT’s work in 2013 and plans for the future. Check out the Annual Meeting page for more information.
Please join us at Farrell Farm in Norwich on Wednesday, June 5th to celebrate land conservation in the Upper Valley.
The wide, fertile floodplain that is at the heart of the northern end of the Upper Valley is some of the most productive agricultural land on the planet. Just ask the farmers who work and care for it. On an annual visit to one of these UVLT-conserved farms last year, the farmer told me that he would put his bottom land up against the most fertile land along the Nile, or any other place else on earth, for that matter. And it is as beautiful as it is productive. Our “working lands” as they have become known, are a vital part of the economic vitality and identity of this region.
One of the best ways to experience this region is to get out in a canoe or kayak, and paddle down the river. Paddling provides an up close opportunity to experience the natural diversity of this place. From silver maple-ostrich fern floodplain forests which are essential to the health of the river and the wildlife that make it their home, to the rich agricultural soils that provide good local food for people and farm animals alike, it is an experience that can remind one of all the ways the Connecticut River connects and nourishes us. And these lands will continue to sustain us in large part due to the hard work and vision of the landowners and community leaders who have put their land “in trust” with the Upper Valley Land Trust. In fact, along this section of the CT River, there is a continuous stretch of 13 miles of protected lands along both sides of the river. And we aren’t finished, either. In fact UVLT just worked with the Cook family to conserve their farm, which abuts the southern end of this 13-mile stretch of conserved land.
Come celebrate the river that unites the communities of the Upper Valley at the 10th annual spring Paddle the Border Sunday May 19th rain or shine! This event is sponsored by The Newbury Conservation Commission, Haverhill Recreation Commission, and Lower Cohase Chamber of Commerce, with support from Woodsville/Wells River Rotary Club. The Spring Paddle goes from Woodsville Community Field in Woodsville, NH, to the Bedell Bridge State Park Boat Launch off Route 10, Haverhill Corner, NH ( a 3-4 hour paddle), and UVLT is looking for a few volunteers to assist with put ins at the Woodsville fields (we’ll paddle afterwards, too!). We’ll also be staffing Harkdale campsite as a rest stop along the way. Just follow the music, which will be provided by UVLT’s VP of Stewardship Pete Helm and friends! Let UVLT Stewardship Coordinator Jason Berard know if you’d like to get involved at email@example.com or 603-643-6626! Check out our calendar for more details.
Jason Berard, Stewardship Coordinator
Frost Forest just might be the closest thing to James Hilton’s mythical valley of Shangri-La that I have come across in my travels throughout the Upper Valley. The property boundaries just so happen to encompass (almost) the entire watershed that feeds the wetland complex which lies at the heart of the property.
Lawrence Hibbard and Ehrhard Frost on Ehrhard’s UVLT-conserved Frost Forest in Thetford.
Actually, that convergence of the wetland boundary with the property boundary did not happen accidentally. Ehrhard Frost had a vision for this place, and it included the whole watershed. You see, Ehrhard is a certified ecoforester by trade, and this place is sort of his “experimental forest”, if you will. When he works out his plans for managing the forest, which in some instances has taken over a decade, he works very hard to make sure that his timber harvest has the least amount of impact possible on the watershed. He lays out his woods roads so that they cross a drainage only once, and not at all if possible. In many cases the work that he puts into his woods roads improves the water quality, by enlarging undersized culverts, or freeing up water flow which has been blocked by previous timber harvests in ages past.
I was lucky enough to walk in the woods with Ehrhard and members of the Thetford Conservation Commission over this last winter. We went out to learn about how he and Lawrence Hibbard, his logger, work together to lay out the roads and plan a harvest in advance of some scheduled work at the UVLT-conserved, Town of Thetford-owned Hughes Forest. They’ve been working together for 25 years, so they must be doing something right!
So, think of all that as the backdrop for our walk on May 18th when Ehrhard will guide us around his very own 287 acre Shangri-La. We’ll learn a bit about forestry practices along the way, and see what harvested areas look like after 1 year, 5 years, and more. We’ll also look for spring wildflowers, birds, and any other clues we can find about what other plants and animals might live at Frost Forest. In the years Ehrhard has owned this place, his “life list” of birds encountered on the property includes over 100 species which is a testament to the diversity of this wonderful working forest! We hope you’ll join us.
Jason Berard, Stewardship Coordinator
For more details, see our calendar. Registration is requested, please contact Jason Berard at UVLT’s office 603-643-6626 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
The wetland nestled at the center of Frost Forest.
April 16, 2013
As I was cycling home from work Monday night, I noted that the ice on the Connecticut River is now nearly gone. The only place I still noted remnants clinging to the banks of the river was at the confluence of Grant Brook and the CT River in Lyme, NH. Just a week ago, as hard as it is to believe, this place was still mostly frozen, with only the swift water in the middle of the brook running freely.
Pictured: Canada geese (bottom left) and common mergansers (top right). Click on image for larger view!
With all the rivers now free of ice, the migrating spring birds are making their way back to the Upper Valley in larger and larger numbers. The Connecticut River is a major flyway for these migrating birds; think of it as the equivalent of an interstate highway for our avian friends. They “drive” along the river, and “pull off” at the “rest areas” along the way to refuel and get some rest before they continue their long journey. So if you want to get a glimpse of which of our feathered friends have made their way back to the Upper Valley, the CT River is a great place to go!
If you have noticed all of these migrating waterfowl floating on the river lately, but like me, you can’t tell a ring-necked duck from a lesser scaup, consider coming along with us on April 20th. UVLT will co-host a spring migrant watch with Hanover Conservancy and the Mascoma chapter of NH Audubon. George Clark and Art Mudge of Mascoma Audubon will lead the trip, and assist us with identifying what we see. We’ll follow the CT River northward from Dartmouth Printing in Hanover to Grant Brook in Lyme, and we’ll look to see which of our seasonal feathered neighbors have returned. For folks who are interested, we may also take a walk up to Lyme Hill from Grant Brook and see if any of our woodland bird neighbors have returned. To find out more about this birding event check our calendar. We look forward to seeing you there!
Jason Berard, Stewardship Coordinator
In 2012, Environmental Educator Maggie Stoudnour organized and coordinated UVLT’s first Upper Valley Naturalist Training. She is currently gearing up for another training beginning at the end of the month. Below, she answers some questions about her inspiration for this project and what inspired the naturalist within her and, perhaps, within you!
UVLT: What prompted you to develop the idea for a naturalist training?
Maggie: I organized something similar in another state, and found that there was a lot of interest. I used to walk around outside a lot admiring plants, taking in the view of a wetland at sunset, noticing tracks or evidence of animals, inspecting various rocks and soils, not really even realizing that I desperately wanted to know more about these things I was seeing and experiencing every day. I think people really want to know more about the natural world around them.
“Adults are just grown up children, and nothing brings out that inner child quite like exploring outdoors. It’s fun to help facilitate that sense of wonder.”
- Maggie Stoudnour, UVLT Environmental Education Consultant
UVLT: Why do you think learning about nature is so important for people?
Maggie: I could cite all kinds of studies about how important it is to spend time outside, for both physical and mental health. But for me, the most important thing is that when people learn about something, they tend to like it more. They see more value in it, and will want to protect it. Educating people about the natural world around them encourages conservation and stewardship.
UVLT: Did anything pleasantly surprise you during last year’s training?
Maggie: Well, I am always surprised and delighted by how enthusiastic people can be about things they see in nature. I love to see people’s eyes light up when they see something they’ve never seen before, or learn something new and exciting about a plant or animal they previously thought of as mundane. There is so much going on in our own backyard habitats, if we just go out and explore. There is so much to learn. There is so much to learn. Adults are just grown up children, and nothing brings out that inner child quite like exploring outdoors. It’s fun to help facilitate that sense of wonder. I also really appreciated the various styles the presenters had, and watching them present about the topics they love and know so well. I was surprised by the different angles and approaches they took. They brought perspectives that were completely new to me.
UVLT: What outcomes of offering such a training do you hope to see?
Maggie: I really hope that these programs will help people feel more connected with the habitats and wildlife in the Upper Valley, and give them the confidence to share their knowledge with other people. I hope that they will feel inspired to get involved in conservation and stewardship. There are many wonderful groups doing great work in our area, and I hope this will help connect knowledgeable training graduates with opportunities to apply their new naturalist skills. This year, in addition to the presenters giving the classroom and field sessions, I have invited people from local conservation groups to come in and talk about some of their projects and how naturalist training graduates might be able to help.
If you’re interesting in participating in this year’s training click here
for more information.
Looking for an excuse to get outside?? Do you like to explore? Do you like hiking off-trail? Do you enjoy visiting beautiful places…but don’t want to travel too far?
If so, you should consider joining the Upper Valley Land Trust’s (UVLT’s) team of volunteer easement stewards in monitoring conserved properties all over the Upper Valley. You’ll be amazed at what you see!
UVLT’s Stewardship staff will be training new volunteers on :
Saturday, May 11th, from 8:30am – 2:30pm.
UVLT office, located off Route 120, at 19 Buck Road in Hanover, NH
… and there will be a field component as well!
Volunteer “Land Stewards” help UVLT meet an important obligation. UVLT is required to make periodic visits to conservation lands to collect observations the condition and current uses of the land. Land Stewards work with UVLT Stewardship staff to provide crucial assistance with field work—from meeting landowners of permanently conserved land, to hiking off-trail with map and compass to find property boundaries, to recording any man-made or natural changes in land use. These monitoring visits are an essential part of the stewardship record for each easement, and they are a great opportunity to see lands and parts of towns that you may not typically visit!
The May 11th training for new volunteers will include an indoor session with general easement information, along with instruction on using a map and compass, GPS, and understanding how to read the landscape. The second half of the training will include venturing outside for hands-on field practice. For more information and to register, contact UVLT at (603) 643-6626 or email@example.com.
Class size is limited and fills up early….so contact us soon, and prepare to get outside!!
Volunteer Conservation Easement Monitoring Training 2013
Saturday May 11, 8am – 3pm
Join the UVLT team of volunteers: become proficient in map and compass skills, using GPS tools, and “reading” the conservation landscape.
Here is what two of last year’s trainees had to say about why they chose to participate:
Elizabeth Traver – I love to walk in the woods anyway, I have been looking for ways to volunteer around the area, I figured I could learn something as well as learn more about places I can go for walks. Finally, I was looking for ways to meet some folks who might have similar interests.
Jim Barker – I (wanted to) improve my skills and knowledge.
Class size is limited to 12 and fills up early.
Conservation: Experience it!
Register today: contact Jason Berard 603-643-6626 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Some chose skis, others stuck to sturdy feet, but everyone who came along on UVLT’s hike to welcome in the first weekend of spring brought smiles and energy for exploring our remote property in North Grantham, NH.
Starting out on the surprisingly good snow, we began the climb along the class VI Leavitt Hill Road from its end at Miller Pond Road. UVLT staff Pete Helm and Sara Cavin got to chat with new friends and share the story of how UVLT came to acquire this 90 acre forest with its 8-acre wetland complex. The Leavitt Hill Wetland property is now owned and managed by UVLT as a result of partnerships with the Town of Grantham, the Conservation Commission, and the NH Department of Environmental Services Wetland Mitigation program.
During our trek, we saw evidence of the old community atop Leavitt Hill, including homestead cellar-holes, abandoned farming machinery and numerous stone walls. Once we headed off the trail and into the conservation area, our senses were perked even more, tuning in to the breezes moving through the ice-storm damaged tree crowns, and noticing the many signs from wildlife that had passed before us. Once at the wetland edge, we walked (and skied) lightly across the still-(mostly!)-frozen stretches, overseen by the snags from the long-abandoned beaver ponds. Pausing for hot tea, peanut butter, granola bars, and other lunchtime snacks, we watched the spring snow flurries swirl about across the wetland.
The skiers enjoyed the relatively open understory throughout much of the property, and hikers had the help of traction spikes but hardly needed them in the fluffy spring snow! Once back to Leavitt Hill Road, the skiers had an exciting descent and the hikers struck up lively conversations about public access on conservation lands and UVLT’s role with easements compared to fee-owned properties. It is always fun learning, laughing and adventuring together in the outdoors – we hope you can join us next time!
Check out some additional photos from this trip here (and be sure to “like” us on Facebook to keep in touch with us there as well as here at www.uvlt.org !)
Sara Cavin, Hike Leader, Project Manager
Celebrate the first weekend of spring with a hike to Leavitt Hill Wetland!
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 10am – 3pm (approx.)
Starting at Leavitt Hill Rd-Miller Pond Rd intersection, Grantham, NH (directions – link to map below)
Come explore with us! We will travel along historic Leavitt Hill Road, discover cellar holes, and hike through UVLT’s property to find Leavitt Hill Wetland. This will be a freeform-style expedition. We invite you to share the company of UVLT staff and friends as we discover the little secrets of this 90 acre natural area which was acquired by the Upper Valley Land Trust in 2011 with support from the Town of Grantham and the Conservation Commission. While your senses will be tested, your fitness certainly may be too – please be prepared for uneven terrain, hilly topography, and likely icy and wet conditions (it will be mud season, after all!). There are no formal trails on this UVLT property, so bring a sense of adventure, pack lunch & water, and join us for an outing to celebrate the first official weekend of spring!
The beginning of the hike along class VI Leavitt Hill Road is approximately 2 miles (with about 600 feet of elevation gain!) just to reach the property. Once there, we will hike down to the wetland, make a loop, and return to Leavitt Hill Road for the return hike back to the cars. Total hiking distance will be approximately 5 miles and we expect the trip to take approximately 4-5 hours, aiming to return by 3pm.
Directions to Leavitt Hill Road here (enter your starting point in “A” and then click “get directions”). We will start where the unmaintained road begins, just off of Miller Pond Road after the highway underpass at 10 a.m. Parking is limited and likely will only be along the roadside of Miller Pond Road – please exercise caution! – Meet to carpool to the start from the gas station off Exit 16 of I-89 at 9:45 a.m.
This is a free event (though being a UVLT supporter makes you extra special!) – Registration is not required, but appreciated! Contact Sara Cavin at the Upper Valley Land Trust with questions and if you plan to join us: email@example.com or (603) 643-6626.
After offering our first Upper Valley Naturalist Training last spring, so many of you have inquired about it that we’re doing it again!
UVLT is partnering with the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, VT to offer a four-week training about habitats and wildlife in our region.
Tuesday evening classroom sessions and weekend field sessions led by local experts will include geology, plant communities, wetland ecology, forest ecology, birds, mammals and more. Participants will also study what it means to be a naturalist and learn techniques for sharing knowledge about the natural world with others.
The training begins on Tuesday, April 23rd with the first classroom session at Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, VT.
Click here to download the full training schedule. *Note: changes/additions may be made to this schedule. Check back for updates.
Space is limited and first-come, first served. The training is just $150 for all four weeks with a 25% discount for UVLT members, seniors and students. $25 non-refundable registration fee due upon registration, with the remainder of the fee due on the first night of the training (registration fee will be deducted from the full course fee). Scholarship funds may be available for those in need.
Questions? Ready to sign up? Call Lorie at 603-643-6626 or email ContactUs@uvlt.org
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