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Rob Burbank's Outdoors with the AMC: NH nongame wildlife program marks quarter-century


Happy Anniversary to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, which marked its 25th year in June.

The program provides management support for species not fished, hunted or trapped, and it is credited with restoring dwindling populations of such species as New Hampshire's State Butterfly, the Karner Blue, in Concord, and sea birds inhabiting the Isles of Shoals.

Other species' success stories include the return of stronger populations of the Eastern cottontail and the American marten, according to the program's website.

The program has also engaged volunteers in monitoring dragonfly distribution and reptile and amphibian populations across the state. Findings, in particular rare species verification, are added to a long-term database. That information is used to help inform land management decisions.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council marked the program's quarter-century milestone in a Governor's Commendation on June 19 that recognized volunteers, staff and partners.

"In the mid-1980s, a crisis was emerging for New Hampshire's threatened and endangered birds, mammals and fish. Wildlife habitat was exposed to enormous pressure from development and recreational activities. Populations were dwindling. Species were disappearing," explained John Kanter, program coordinator, in a news release.

According to the program's website, "New Hampshire Audubon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with State Sen. Susan McLane and the New Hampshire State Legislature to establish the program, signed into law by Gov. John Sununu in June of 1988."

The program counts about 400 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles whose populations it helps to manage and protect. Staff also work in concert with other organizations and state agencies to help conserve wildlife habitat.

The state provides a $50,000 matching grant to help fund the program, contingent upon an equal amount being raised through private contributions. Program managers report that private contributions exceed $100,000 per year. The program is also supported through the federal State Wildlife Grants Program.

New Hampshire residents can volunteer for such projects as wild turkey and piping plover monitoring and bat counting, among many other options. Organizations can also host Wildlife Action Plan workshops presented by New Hampshire Fish and Game and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

Details on monitoring efforts, programs, and volunteer opportunities can be found at wildlife.state.nh.us/.

Speaking of anniversaries, the Appalachian Mountain Club is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its White Mountains hut system this year. Fashioned after the alpine huts of Europe, these trailside hostelries offer mountain hospitality, meals, lodging and educational programs in spectacular mountain settings.

Eight huts are spaced a day's hike apart along a 56-mile-long stretch of the Appalachian Trail and are open to AMC members and non-members alike.

The easternmost AMC hut, Carter Notch Hut, was recently recognized in the Best Adventure category of New Hampshire Magazine's Best of NH awards.

AMC Huts in the White Mountain National Forest are operated under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. AMC's Lonesome Lake Hut is operated in partnership with the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation.

Abundant wildlife, both game species and nongame, can be seen during a hike to the huts. At AMC's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, naturalists offer free interpretive programs on local wildlife in which participants can learn to identify animal tracks and find out how different species are adapted to thrive in the region's various habitats. More information is available by calling 466-2721.

Rob Burbank is the Director of Media and Public Affairs for the Appalachian Mountain Club (www.outdoors.org) in Pinkham Notch. His column, "Outdoors with the AMC," appears monthly in the New Hampshire Sunday News.


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