Righting old wrongs, Native Americans and land management
FRIDAY'S NEWS that New Hampshire has 40 or so nesting bald eagles was balm for the soul. It is the latest in this generation's track record of righting old environmental wrongs (moose, beaver, wild turkeys, fisher cats, martens, loons). When I began writing this column 40 years ago, it was a far more dismal scene.
Back then, wildlife biologists had just combed over years of research and figured out that the pesticide DDT had, through the food chain, resulted in eagles laying eggs with shells too thin for viable hatching.
Well do I remember the scoffing from the naysayers in denial of the science. It brings to mind the current Doubting Thomases and loon deaths from lead sinkers.
This past Monday, I went down below the notches to speak at Havenwood Heights in Concord. It is literally on the heights, above and east of where the Merrimack River has been eating away at the bank for millennia, near where the Pennacook Indian village existed for so many centuries.
The Pennacooks are said to have roamed between the lower end of Winnipesaukee to Amoskeag Falls, but I suspect they went much farther. From a lifetime of reading and almost a lifetime of figuring things out, I suspect that all of the Abenakis south of the notches went to the seashore to ride out the winter, there being plenty to eat there, and came back home to plant, hunt and eat during spring, summer and fall.
The Coashaukees, from whom Coös ("Co-oss," like "coöperate") County got its name, apparently never lived there. History suggests they considered the far reaches of northern New Hampshire home, and hunted and fished there in the warmer months, but beat it for the coast, whether the St. Lawrence or the Gulf of Maine, when times got tough. I'd bet on the Gulf of Maine.
"Because ours is a strange profession, we have to know and do a lot of stuff that is outside of many people's comfort zone - walking alone in the woods, working around large pieces of equipment, understanding plenty of science, measuring things, working in snow, cold, rain, bugs, and oh yeah, black flies, mosquitos, ticks, and more bugs."That's how George Frame described his job in the recent issue of "Forest Notes," put out quarterly by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. I clipped his piece for two reasons: To call attention to a forester's life and to alert readers to an opportunity to observe forestry and best management practices on the ground.
This is in line with my oft-professed advice to never agree to a logging job without consulting a licensed forester first. There are those who will say there's no need, and so save the money. Those tend to be the people who do not know where their trees went, whether they went for the best use, and are in the dark about the money. Call your University of New Hampshire Extension Service, easily available in your phone book, for a list of certified foresters.
The Forest Society schedules at least two woodlot tours annually. These tend to show visitors active logging jobs and explain the sustainable and stewardship ethics behind them. George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Hampshire Timberlands Association runs similar tours and programs, a great educational tool, especially for those who've bought or inherited forested land and simply don't know what to do. Its informative site is nhtoa.org.
In looking back on a long night at a fish ladder with Eric Orff, I confused alewives with lampreys, and heard plenty about it. Only a landlubber would make the mistake, or care.
John Harrigan can be reached at PO Box 39, Colebrook 03576; email him at email@example.com.
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Last week's Rare Bird Alert