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. The survey portion of the project is complete and reveals some impressive statistics:

  • New Hampshire towns own 1,435 forested parcels that are 10 acres or more in size.
  • Town-owned properties cover 158,455 acres, equal to 3% of New Hampshire's forested land. (For comparison, Vermont communities own about 70,000 acres of forestland.)
  • Most town land (63%) is being managed for multiple uses including wildlife habitat, recreation, water or wetland protection, timber production and education.
  • 109,660 acres (69%) are permanently protected, which is considerably more than we anticipated.

Other benefits from the survey:

  • County Foresters connected directed with each tow and started important discussions about forest management, forest protection, and the benefits they can generate.
  • Some towns “found” property they didn’t know they owned, and one town found a forest management plan covering 500 acres in a file drawer that hadn't been accessed for years!

Additionally, Center Program Director Julie Renaud Evans gathered timber harvest data in northern New Hampshire's Coos, Carroll, and Grafton counties to assess an economic impact from these managed lands. Within the last ten years, 24 towns have completed timber harvests on town-owned land and received a total of more than $3 million dollars for the harvested wood.

In addition to income for the towns, these timber harvests were important to the region's economy, generating income for foresters, loggers, truckers, and sawmills.

This data gives the Center a rich data foundation to work from as we continue our Community Forest work to increase ecological, economical, and social benefits provided to communities from ownership of protected land.

Read more program updates from the Center.