For three years, the Center has been working with UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions on a comprehensive inventory of all town owned land in the state of New Hampshire. We aim to increase the amount of municipally owned land and maximize the benefits realized from locally-owned, sustainably-managed public lands.
Many towns own forestland, though not all are taking initiative to set social, fiscal, economic and conservation goals. The inventory used the Community Forest model as a basis for analysis on missed opportunities for community benefit. Community Forests are town-owned land that are permanently protected, have careful stewardship plans to realize community benefit, and are shaped by local decision making.
Project components –
1. County foresters have been gathering data on ownership history, management details, benefits received, and level of protection of all town-owned land. This data collection phase is almost finished, and we have identified over 2,000 town-owned parcels of land. Additionally, the Center is collecting economic data of timber harvest history and revenue in New Hampshire’s three northern counties within the last ten years.
3. Finally, we will develop a strategic outreach plan for conservation commissions, natural resource professionals and land trusts in defined geographic areas.
This project has been much, much bigger than any of us anticipated. This data will help The Northern Forest Center and our partners target priorities to maximize community benefit from town-owned land.
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