Our conservation work continues on Hanover’s highest ridge with plans for 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 will assure room for wildlife – and hikers – to roam. The parcel includes headwater tributaries of Mink Brook (above) and a variety of other types of wetlands, including a fen (left) and black ash and red spruce swamps.
Two grants will allow us to purchase a conservation easement on this prominent property. New Hampshire’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund has pledged a major contribution, the largest single grant in the Conservancy’s history. A second grant from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership will help with transaction costs. Owners Kay and Peter Shumway are generously making 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 expect to complete the easement next spring and look forward to a mountain-side celebration.
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)
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. This chart compares the number of plants in the fenced areas (blue) to the number in places (red) where deer could reach them.
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.
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.