Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

$1.72 million Awarded to Protect New Hampshire Wildlife

Concord, N.H. – The N.H. Fish and Game Department has received
two of 13 State Wildlife Grant Competitive Program awards from the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, totaling $1.72 million, or 25% of
the grant funds available nationally. Together, the grants
crystallize two innovative habitat conservation partnerships. One
project, spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy of New Hampshire,
targets Northern Forests spanning the Adirondack and White
Mountains. The other, to be led by the Wildlife Management
Institute, focuses on the imperiled New England cottontail rabbit,
ranging from the lower Hudson River to the Gulf of Maine. The
unprecedented dual award marks national recognition of New
Hampshire’s wildlife conservation leadership, and would not have
been possible without the partnership of The Nature Conservancy and
the Wildlife Management Institute.

The aim of the State Wildlife Grant program is to pre-empt the
need to federally list endangered wildlife through voluntary
conservation action. To that end, the project entitled “Staying
Connected in the Northern Appalachians” ensures habitat
connectivity for 41 wide-ranging and forest-dwelling species of
concern across the Northern Forest. The “Rangewide New England
Cottontail Initiative” will restore early-successional habitats — a
top priority in the Wildlife Action Plans of all the New England
states, since many of the region’s most imperiled wildlife are
dependent on them.

The Northern Appalachians ecoregion, also known as the Northern
Forest, spans two countries, four states, four provinces and
80-million acres; it contains rare alpine vegetation, at-risk
species, old-growth forests, very large unfragmented forest blocks,
high quality rivers and streams, and 5.4 million people. The Nature
Conservancy (TNC) will manage implementation of the project and
will provide most of the funds matching the $992,000 award. TNC
will work directly with other partners, including New Hampshire
Audubon and Two Countries One Forest, a bi-national collaborative
focused on forests and natural heritage from New York to Nova
Scotia.

“The Northern Appalachian ecoregion is unique: we know of very
few places in the world where such a large and intact temperate
mixed and deciduous forest is located so close to so many people,”
said Mark Zankel, Deputy State Director for The Nature Conservancy
in New Hampshire.

Early-successional habitats, once abundant in a landscape
reverting from agriculture, are at risk because natural
regenerative processes, like flooding, fire, and beaver activity,
have been replaced with controlled human environments. Among the
habitats of concern are coastal scrub, riparian brush, pine
barrens, shrub wetlands, and young aspen-birch stands. It is widely
regcognized that these patchy habitats support the highest level of
animal diversity in the Northeast. The cottontail project will
restore up to 1,200 acres of habitat to reverse the path toward
extinction for the rabbit, but the project will benefit many
imperiled animal species.

“The Rangewide New England Cottontail Initiative is an
innovative public-private project that will not only create habitat
for widely recognized animals like rabbits and woodcock, but will
also benefit 70 species of butterflies and moths, three species of
beetles, 40 species of birds, three amphibians, 11 reptiles, and
nine mammals,” said Scot Williamson, Vice President of the Wildlife
Management Institute. The Institute will assist the states with
implementation, and will work in concert with NH, MA, and CT
provide funds to match the $732,000 award.

The two projects rely on integrative relationships among key
agencies. Transportation agencies from across the region will be
active participants to help identify and incorporate recommended
Northern Forest connectivity improvements as part of road
maintenance/upgrade work planned for 2009-2014. For the cottontail
initiative, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Natural
Resources Conservation Service are working with the states to
implement programs to expedite funding for work on private lands.
For both projects, implementation will build on complex computer
modeling initiated at N.H. Fish and Game. The proactive and
innovative approach taken by all of the partners for both projects
are timely in the face of looming environmental challenges.

“Securing the habitat connectivity of our Northern Forests will
provide a critical buffer against climate change and habitat loss
for some of our most valued wildlife, including moose, Canada lynx,
American marten, wolf, black bear, and bobcat,” said Dr. Steven
Fuller, a wildlife biologist at the New Hampshire Fish and Game
Department. “It is unacceptable for us to witness the next
mammalian extinction in our backyards or to allow the continued
impoverishment of the most diverse fauna in the Northeast.”

In a statement announcing the nearly $9 million awarded
nationwide through the State Wildlife Grants Competitive Program,
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “The projects funded by
these grants target some of the most imperiled species and habitats
in the United States. They’re also among the most effective,
because they are tied to well thought-out conservation plans that
identify the highest priorities in each state — as well as the
areas where we can make the biggest difference for imperiled
species.” For more information, visit www.fws.gov.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of
the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.
The Department works in partnership with the public to conserve,
manage and protect these resources and their habitats. Visit
www.wildnh.com.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization
working around the world to protect ecologically important lands
and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its
more than one million members have been responsible for the
protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and
have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America,
the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Since 1961, The Nature
Conservancy in New Hampshire has helped protect more than 265,000
acres of ecologically significant land and currently owns and
manages 28 preserves across the state. Visit The Nature Conservancy
on the Web at www.nature.org/newhampshire.

The Wildlife Management Institute is a professional conservation
organization that works to improve the professional foundation of
wildlife management. Visit www.wildlifemanagementinstitute.org.

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