Stewardship and Land Management
NH’s conservation commissions are the local stewards of town natural resources and wildlife. Stewardship of conservation land is a great responsibility for many commissions who ensure proper use and land management of town property and easements.
A conservation commission itself cannot hold title to land or easements; the town or city holds the fee or any interest in real property acquired for a municipality through the efforts of a commission. However, RSA 36-A:4 specifies that any interest in land acquired in the name of the municipality by the conservation commission be “managed and controlled” by the commission. Whether your commission holds conservation easements or manages town-owned land you'll want to make sure that it is used properly to ensure protection of conservation values.
Town conservation land can also be featured as model of good stewardship. Hosting
hikes and educational programs on town conservation land can provide an example of best management practices and how it is possible to balance timber sales and offer recreational opportunities while enhancing wildlife habitat, and protecting air quality, and water supplies.
Need to brush up on your monitoring skills? Check out the Stewardship Resources at NH’s Conservation Land Stewardship Program and Nature Groupie’s How to Monitor Conservation Easements: Training Guide.
Identify Natural Resources
In order to successfully manage conservation lands, the commission needs to identify the natural and cultural resources on the property. If land is acquired to protect an significant natural resource, such as ground or surface water supply or an exemplary biological community, all other potential uses of the property will be subordinate to the primary purpose of protection.
Just about everyone is interested in wildlife and protecting habitat is often a primary goal for conservation commissions. Your commission can identify high value habitats with significant ecological values by viewing the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan (WAP). The State WAP provides community maps that identify highest ranked habitat and species likely to live in the area. The WAP includes resources on creating and maintaining wildlife habitat and conservation planning tools.
Taking Action for Wildlife is an excellent resource for both individuals and communities that want to identify and protect wildlife in their area.
Conservation commissions are working to retain biodiversity by protecting habitat and through the control of invasive species. Several commissions have initiated projects to identify and try to avoid or control invasive plant species, both aquatic and terrestrial, in their communities. UNH Extension has more information on removing and controlling invasive species.
The NH Natural Heritage Bureau is charged with finding, tracking, and facilitating the protection of New Hampshire's rare plants and exemplary natural communities.