NH Audubon an Important Part of Concord Area Upcoming Timber Harvest

Posted on December 28, 2015
Photo by Phil Brown

Photo by Phil Brown

Forest management will improve habitat for birds, lay groundwork for ongoing conservation initiatives

In the coming weeks, NH Audubon will partner with forestry professionals to improve the habitats of many wildlife species as part of its commitment to help manage the nearly 8,000 acres of forest in and around Concord.

Foresters will oversee timber harvesting at the Silk Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Concord (in conjunction with the adjacent St. Paul’s School property) and the Deering Wildlife Sanctuary in Deering. Nearly 30 people joined the conservation and forestry professionals who hosted a free tour on December 12 at the Silk Farm Wildlife Sanctuary for a closer look at this important aspect of NH Audubon’s conservation efforts.

“Forest management is a long-term approach that sets the stage for a variety of needs – for wildlife habitat, regeneration of forests, improved forest health, revenue for stewardship, and other benefits, said Phil Brown, NH Audubon’s director of land management. “One of our main goals through these particular harvests is to remove declining white pine trees to allow more shrubs and hardwood species to grow, because these offer cover and food for bird species such as Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Eastern Towhee.”

These efforts will also create new opportunities to catch a glimpse of other wildlife that depend on hardwood shrubs and trees, such Snowshoe Hare, White-tailed Deer, and possibly moose. The separate forestry initiatives in Concord and Deering are being conducted in close partnership with Calhoun and Corwin Forestry LLC of Peterborough and Meadowsend Timberlands of New London, respectively. Forestry and wildlife experts from the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources’ Conservation Service are also working closely with NH Audubon on the initiative. The work will be a long-term improvement towards expanding public access and providing a safer, more user-friendly experience on the sanctuaries and allowing for improved wildlife observation.

“It all comes down to stewardship of our forests and addressing the needs of particular groups of species that aren’t being met on the larger landscape,” Brown said. “According to The State of New Hampshire’s Birds (a NH Audubon publication), birds of shrub lands and young forests have declined more precipitously than any other group of breeding birds in our state and region over the past several decades. This management implements recommendations from the Wildlife Action Plan to create additional habitat for this suite of species.”

Forest management is also a positive for conservation in that it can also generate revenue that can be re-invested back into the landscape for conservation or stewardship projects that involve out-of-pocket expenses, such as land conservation and outdoor recreation improvements. Brown expects additional trail improvements and educational signage and programs will result from the management actions.

The timing of the timber harvests is carefully selected to avoid the breeding season of birds as well as to minimize other impacts such as soil disturbance. Forest managers are also diligent about surveying trees for nests and wildlife. Among other best management practices NH Audubon and its forest stewardship team follow, they ensure the harvest does not disturb cavity trees and standing dead trees because of the year-round habitat they provide for many birds and animals.

Harvested timber yields a variety of wood products for the local economy, and much of the wood is processed in the state or the region. Wood pellets and firewood for heat, saw logs for construction, and pulp for paper are all ways the harvested wood may be used. Some of the canopy and upper branches, and a few of the ‘butt-logs’ will be left in the forest stand, returning nutrients to the soil and providing structure on the forest floor that is beneficial to many types of wildlife.

Efforts to minimize trail crossings and active disruptions to hikers this winter are in place, and signage will communicate any safety and/or disturbance information to visitors.

The public is invited to attend a post-harvest tour of the Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Antrim on January 9, and a ‘during-harvest’ tour of the Deering Wildlife Sanctuary in Deering on February 13. To register for either, please contact Phil Brown at pbrown@nhaudubon.org or (603) 224-9909 x334.

Additional details for each of the tours follow:

Goodhue Hill (Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary) Post-Harvest Tour 9 am – 12 pm on Saturday, January 9, 2016. Free. RSVP required.

Deering Wildlife Sanctuary Timber Harvest Tour 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday, February 13, 2016. Free. RSVP required.