News & Updates

Valley News clarification…

A recent Valley News article (Aug. 1) reported that the Town of Hanover had taken deeds to three properties after the taxes on them went unpaid beyond the deadline specified by state law.  We understand that the Town intends to take no further action until a grace period, also provided in the law, expires.

The Hanover Conservancy was unaware of this event until alerted by the reporter and had made no arrangements with the Town regarding the future of the land. The Conservancy, an independent, private, non-profit organization, is not affiliated with town government but has worked for over 50 years to assist the Town in creating public parks and other natural spaces. In fact, our first land transaction was purchase of the Tanzi Natural Area in the 1960s, which we then transferred to the Town at half price. The Valley News initially reported that we own the Tanzi Natural Area, and then issued a correction.

The paper also mentioned we had once offered to purchase David Vincelette’s three lots on Mink Brook. This occurred at a time when the owner was facing foreclosure and the complete loss of his home and property. We stepped in to offer what we believed was fair market value in order that he could have resources to purchase another home. He declined our offer and we have respected his decision.

Shumway Forest on Moose Mountain – Conserved!

Download a newly updated trail map HERE.

Our conservation work continues on Hanover’s highest ridge with the permanent protection of the 313-acre Shumway Forest – the largest project in our half-century history!  The parcel stretches from Three Mile Road to the crest of Moose Mountain and creates a link both to other conservation lands – federal Appalachian Trail lands, town-owned parcels, and the Mill Pond Forest – and to a vast network of foot trails including the AT.  This connected high elevation habitat assures room for wildlife – and hikers – to roam.  The parcel includes headwater tributaries of Mink img_2207Brook and a variety of other types of wetlands, including a fen (left), vernal pool, and black ash and red spruce swamps.

The Shumway Forest is the center of a mountainside trail network that includes not only the Appalachian Trail as it travels from Three Mile Road to the South Peak of Moose Mountain, but a dozen other foot trails totaling 3.4 miles, linking the AT with others on the mountain and beyond. Many are trails that Kay and Peter built and/or maintained for skiing as the owners of Moose Mountain Lodge.  Coincidentally, they signed the conservation easement on the 40th anniversary of their acquisition of the Lodge.

The Shumways and their neighbors, Elisha and Anne Huggins, previously donated a conservation easement on the abutting Mill Pond Forest and Huggins Trail Access, protecting a key public access point as well as the primary headwaters of  Mink Brook.

Two grants allowed us to purchase a permanent conservation easshumway-forest-topo-for-app-2016-11-21ement on this prominent property.  New Hampshire’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund provided a major contribution, the largest single grant in the Conservancy’s history.  A second grant from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership helps with transaction costs. Owners Kay and Peter Shumway have generously made a bargain sale of this easement, far below market value.  Learning of the awards, the Shumways replied, “We are thrilled with your news and the idea that our land will be forever open for people to enjoy and not covered with no trespassing signs (and houses…)!”  We  look forward to a mountain-side celebration on July 17. (7/12/2017)

Download a newly updated trail map HERE.

About those bears…

(5/30/2017) UPDATE: Due to the response from the public (including many from out-of-state) and discussions between Governor Sununu and local, state and federal bear experts, this bear family is slated to be relocated. The three cubs have now been released in the North Country, after being tagged to help identify them should they return. The mother bear, pictured here in 2016, has yet to be relocated. We’re grateful to NH Fish & Game and USDA Wildlife Services for sharing their experience with Upper Valley communities and for beBear-Snack-croping such responsive stewards of our wildlife and natural resources. The Hanover Conservancy looks forward to working with the Town of Hanover on an ordinance to help eliminate food attractants. We will continue our education efforts on how to be a safe neighbor of our many wonderful natural areas.

From Bear and Human Conflicts – A Need for Change:

If you find [this issue] provoking, please lend your support and assistance. Follow the Something’s Bruin guidelines. Talk to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to be proactive in preventing conflicts with bears. Get active within your community and work for change. Change may be hard but it is not impossible. It’s our own human behavior that creates these conflicts, and therefore it is our own behavior that needs to be modified. (read full article here)   -Andrew Timmins, NH Fish & Game Bear Biologist

photo by Nicki Felicetti
photo by Nicki Felicetti

(5/25/2017) The Hanover Conservancy has worked hard for many, many years to educate the Hanover community about how to co-exist with native wildlife, including the bears that, for generations, have occupied a home range near downtown and Mink Brook. We’ve sponsored programs by a variety of bear experts, blanketed inboxes with repeated pleas to take in birdfeeders, stuffed flyers in doors, posted signs, and sought help from the town and state. We organized a meeting with these experts and, most recently, sought volunteers to help with “bear hazing” to try to deter the bears from approaching homes in a last-ditch effort to stave off the inevitable.

Despite these efforts and those of many concerned neighbors, a bounty of birdfeeders, unsecured trash, and other inappropriate food sources remained available, leading the mother bear to teach her cubs to seek these rather than wild foods. The result is cubs that are twice the size they should be for their age, with no fear of humans or concept of bear/human boundaries. Much as we’d like to imagine that a different future could await bears that think it’s okay to help themselves to brownies on a kitchen counter, there is, unfortunately, no “Bear-Anon” to rehabilitate a bear that has strayed from its wild roots. And it is not the bears’ fault.

The bears will ultimately pay the price for human mistakes that are forcing state biologists to trap and euthanize the mother and her cubs. Nobody wants that fate for them, but with such unnatural habits, the bears cannot be released elsewhere. They would either continue their dangerous ways in their new home or would find their way back to Hanover after being driven out by bears already living there.  There is no other place a bear gone bad can go.

When one Hanover neighborhood decided to clean up its bear attractants and got serious about it, the bears stopped visiting, according to deputy fire chief Mike Hinsley, who has diligently scouted the situation. Bear-proof trash containers, taking in birdfeeders when bears emerge in spring, and confining access to compost are all sensible solutions.  We strongly support a town-wide ordinance requiring responsible management of trash and other bear attractants.

In the meantime, we recognize that there is excellent bear habitat in our area – Indian Ridge, Velvet Rocks, and stream corridors – and that it’s only a matter of time before a new bear discovers the recently-vacated territory in Hanover. We hope this time the bear receives a different welcome, from a community that has united to help it remain wild and free.

Deer Hunting

Rosenthalyard2
Balch Hill neighbor’s backyard

Not so long ago, it was rare to see a deer in suburban Hanover.  In 2015, more deer were taken by hunting in Hanover than in any other town in New Hampshire. Deer-car collisions are more frequent and

people commonly report groups of deer lounging in their back yards. Gardeners  see shorn plants and forest landowners find browse lines. Deer consume native tree seedlings, saplings, shrubs, and wildflowers, encouraging invasive plants to take their place. Natural predators were removed by our ancestors, and the deer herd is expanding, threatening forest health.

In 2013, at the request of the Town of Hanover, we opened the Balch Hill Natural Area once again to archery for a limited season by special permit only.  For 2014 and 2015, hunters were further confined to off-trail tree stands.  We interviewed all of our selected hunters before and after the season and re-evaluate the policy each year. This spring, we conducted a survey of Balch Hill neighbors and friends, with a strong response rate: Balch Hill Deer Hunting Survey 2016 Responses.

See also Frequently Asked Questions, developed in response to comments. The Hanover Conservation Commission has set up a Deer Team to pursue changes in state hunting rules to better manage the town’s expanding deer population.

The Hanover Conservancy supports control of the deer herd by hunters following state laws. Beside the limited hunting at Balch Hill, hunting is permitted on the following Conservancy properties:

  • Mayor-Niles Forest, Moose Mountain
  • Tunis Brook Mill Lot
  • Greensboro Ridge Natural Area (except south of the Silent Brook Trail)

Deer Excl Study-All graphs 2015Just how much do deer affect vegetation at Balch Hill?  To find out, we are working with Dartmouth Professor Craig Layne and students in his Ecological Methods class on a long-term experiment at the Natural Area. In 2012, we erected a number of fenced “exclosures” to foil hungry deer. This chart compares the number of plants in the fenced areas (blue) to the number in places (red) where deer could reach them.


We’ve Moved!

The Hanover Conservancy opened new offices at 71 Lyme Road on April 1, 2016.  While we regret leaving behind our former offices at 16 Buck Road, close to our Mink Brook Nature Preserve, this move was forced by a fire on Nov. 2, 2015 that made our office uninhabitable. We happy to work right next to trails leading to Storrs Pond, the Rinker-Steele Natural Area, and Oak Hill. We’re also within walking distance of the Richmond School, CRREL, and Kendal. 4/1/2016

Hanover Conservancy Environmental Studies Award

Our Board of Directors is pleased to establish the Hanover Conservancy Environmental Studies Award.  This $500 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving Hanover High School senior who has demonstrated a strong interest in environmental studies, high academic achievement in the Environmental Studies class, and plans to pursue this interest as part of his or her college studies.

The Hanover Conservancy has a long history of outreach to our schools, teachers, and groups like Youth-in-Action.  Over our half-century history, we provided summer camp scholarships, purchased nature books for school libraries, helped establish the Ray School nature trails, and involved student volunteers in trail and field work on our nature preserves.

We believe that education goes hand-in-hand with our mission to protect land and water in our community and nurture appreciation of the natural environment.  Seniors apply for this scholarship as part of the school’s Local Scholarship Application. The scholarship committee, consulting with teacher Jeannie Kornfeld, makes the selection.

 

Deer Browse at Balch Hill

Just how much do deer affect vegetation at Balch Hill?  To find out, we are working with Dartmouth Professor Craig Layne and students in his Ecological Methods class on a long-term experiment at the Natural Area. In 2012, we erected a number of fenced “exclosures” to foil hungry deer. Here are the results – after just one year, the number of plants in the fenced areas (shown in blue) were almost twice the number in places (shown in red) where deer could get at them. Stay tuned for updates.

Celebrating Dartmouth’s Conservation Partnership

Dartmouth College is Hanover’s largest landowner and most significant local conservation partner, whether we look at acres or number of parcels preserved, neighbors benefited, or miles of trail protected.

The College’s major contributions to Hanover Conservancy properties have been to the Balch Hill Natural Area, where Dartmouth owns undeveloped land east of the summit and welcomes public access, and especially to the Mink Brook Nature Preserve. Dartmouth’s role at Mink Brook was not known to the public until recently. It was Dartmouth’s (then anonymous) substantial financial gift that made the conservation of the 112 acre Mink Brook parcel possible.

At our 50th Annual Meeting in December, 2011, President Nancy Collier presented retiring Dartmouth Director of Real Estate  Paul Olsen, and Director of Campus Planning Joanna Whitcomb, with a framed photograph of Mink Brook embellished with a chronology of Dartmouth’s conservation achievements since 1960.  The list includes conservation easements, donations, support for protective re-zoning, and property transfers, affecting over 2800 acres.

An article about the Hanover Conservancy’s relationship with the College appeared in Dartmouth>Now shortly afterward.