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This report provides background information and context for the entire area of the town, and some more detailed evaluation of a selection of known ecologically significant sites. Protecting lands in and around a site depends on awareness of site attributes combined with outreach to key landowners. Next steps include identifying specific tracts for protection. The feasibility of protection depends on the willingness of current landowners to contribute to protection efforts, and the resources of local land trusts, conservation commissions, and other conservation organizations. Protection tools include outright purchase, conservation easements, management agreements, or other creative land protection strategies that take into account current and desired land management goals.
This report provides a first step for defining potential sites for conservation planning. Additional research would enrich our knowledge of the town's biological resources and help focus protection activities. For example, the timing of The Nature Conservancy's 1999 field surveys came too late to identify all vegetation, particularly rare plant species-such as spring ephemerals-that only appear early in the growing season. In addition, not all potentially important sites could be visited during the limited time span and resources for this project.
We recommend that the Town of Hanover find every opportunity to extend this preliminary survey to include other areas, and to other aspects of biodiversity beyond the partial assessment of natural community types and rare plants included in this report.
Dartmouth College and local conservation organizations could provide additional research, specifically long-term monitoring at significant sites with currently known rare species or exemplary natural communities. Mink Brook, Velvet Rocks, Bottomless Pit, and other areas identified in this report would be good starting places for the public to become involved in stewardship of important sites, including those with rare species and high quality or exemplary natural communities.
Working with large landowners that have the opportunity to manage for biodiversity on protected land would add to the quality of current management strategies. Hanover Waterworks Company land, Huntington Hill, Oak Hill, Storrs Pond, Rinker Tract, and the Goodwin Forest are examples of sites where options for biodiversity management might be explored.
Protecting new lands that currently support significant natural features, such as wetland complexes, high elevation sites, and large tracts of common forest land would add to Hanover's extensive conservation land-base.
Finally, connecting currently protected lands to other nearby conservation lands not only adds protected areas, but also increases the value and integrity of already protected lands. Such projects build on existing core lands and represent an outstanding investment in the future environmental quality of the town.
The Town of Hanover has an unusual opportunity to maintain the rich and diverse natural environment within the town boundaries. This is a consequence of its natural endowment, the current status of town lands and the commitment of the townspeople to conservation. Wise choices now and in the near future (i.e. when opportunities arise) may enable Hanover to avoid the long-term loss and deterioration occurring in biodiversity and natural communities world-wide.
Employing the services of the following non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies, would continue to add to Hanover's conservation information:
- The New Hampshire Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, for ecological site evaluations and land protection assistance
- N.H. Natural Heritage Inventory, for comprehensive biodiversity inventories and ecological information
- Local and statewide Land Trusts for assistance with land protection
- Upper Valley Land Trust
- Hanover Conservation Council
- Trust for Public Land
- UNH (Grafton County) Cooperative Extension, for forest and timber inventories, timber management, Natural Resource Inventory Guides for New Hampshire Communities, Community Conservation Assistance programs, and Forest Land Evaluation and Site Assessment projects
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for managing and restoring native ecosystems
- N.H. Office of State Planning for natural resource outreach planning;
- N.H. Non-Game Program (N.H. Fish and Game) for wildlife habitat identification and protection for towns and conservation groups
- The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests for land protection, timber management, and well-water protection strategies
- Audubon Society of New Hampshire for wildlife habitat protection and environmental education
- New Hampshire Wildlife Federation for community-based open space conservation planning