Mission: Since 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has worked to establish permanent conservation areas and promote the wise stewardship of private lands. Supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization.
Geographic areas served: New Hampshire
Programs: Property management: the society for the protection of new hampshire forests stewards 180 reservations totaling over 53,400 acres. In fy2015 we completed seven timber sales harvesting 10,800 tons of low-grade wood and 1. 28 million board feet of sawlogs. We restored over 50 miles of boundary line, completed a trail condition report on over 40 miles of hiking trails, and utilized the time of over 125 volunteers in trail and infrastructure maintenance and construction projects. At the rocks estate we harvested over 4,000 christmas trees and planted 6,000 new trees. We hosted over 60 groups for educational programming including bus tours and private tours. We saw over 700 visitors to the maple weekends plus 2 buses and 2 school groups. The forevergreen program with the local elementary school was well attended by all 7 classes. The littleton garden club and the ammonoosuc chapter of the audubon society met at the rocks throughout the year. Bretzfelder park saw a lot of activity on the trails plus 8 educational programs that had an average attendance of 25 people per program.
land protection: the forest society conserved 6,273 acres through 21 land protection projects across the state. Among the projects were 6 fee acquisitions totaling 635 acres and added to our reservations, 13 conservation easements totaling 2,296 acres on land owned by others and 1 project of 3,342 acres transferred to another conservation organization. In addition our staff monitored over 825 easements on more than 137,000 acres.
education, outreach and membership: key accomplishments include launching a pilot program providing educational content to the many school groups that regularly visit one of our newest forest reservations, mount major in alton, nh. We are actively engaged with school teachers in developing the mt. Major curriculum. Our nationally recognized land steward program trained 25 new volunteers-we now have a record 170 land stewards actively helping to care for our forest reservations. Overall we have 387 volunteers who contributed more than 7,000 hours. Our outreach efforts, focused on land conservation and wise use of natural resources including careful timber harvesting, reached thousands of readers, viewers and participants via field-based education programs, tours, annual lecture series, news releases, a regular feature column in the statewide nh sunday news, radio and television segments and special features, blogs, social media, e-newsletters and quarterly publication of forest notes, new hampshire's conservation magazine. In fy 2015 we also re-launched our new website, with particular focus on an online guide to our forest reservations to enhance public access and enjoyment of the conserved lands we steward.
policy: the forest society lobbies state elected officials in concord, nh and our federal delegation in washington. There are two staff members who allocate time to lobbying, and most of that time is spent lobbying state legislators on behalf of the forest society's position on specific pieces of legislation introduced. The state legislature meets from january to june each year and most of the time spent lobbying by the organization's staff is within these six month sessions. The forest society lobbies specifically on bills relating to forestry, water quality, air quality, land conservation, energy facility siting and growth management.
I am a frequent visitor to several Society reservations, am a member, and support specific preservation projects when I can. My occasional encounters with Society staff over a 15-yr. period have left me impressed with their professionalism, dedication, and commitment to mission. As someone who works in the land trust field elsewhere, I have the utmost respect for the Society's consistent ability to facilitate and complete large-scale land projects that have resulted in the preservation of many of NH's most cherished landscapes. The Society also does great work in the advocacy and education areas, and seeks to advance the art and science of forestry--but without its demonstrated commitment to land conservation, these other pursuits wouldn't mean much.
SPNF has been a great partner for conservation projects I have worked on for Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. The staff has considerable expertise, and is a top choice to handle all aspects of complex projects, including fundraising.
Since the organization is large, the focus is on larger projects, and stewardship costs will be excessive for small projects (nor will SPNF likely be interested in small projects (under 200 acres or so.)
I would like to see more focus on reestablishing a core area of "old growth", which is extremely underrepresented in NH. Since virtually all mature and over-mature forests were cut before 1920 or so, I doubt the ecology of old growth ecosystems is well understood. I think it would be good to make getting a significant amount back a priority, in areas where currently the focus would be more on working forest.
Walking in the woods (at time of the year) and just observing all of the tale tale marks left by the wildlife -- be it footprints in the mud or bird droppings at the base of a tree. A walk in the woods is always a wonderful way to clear all of the cob webs out of my brain.