Forestry & Natural Resources
For most Forest Society easements, a forest management plan is required before any commercial timber harvesting can occur. The plan must be written within the last 10 years by a licensed forester, and should include landowner objectives, a forest type map, a soils map, prescriptions for each stand, and an explanation of how wetlands or other sensitive areas will be protected during the harvest.
Your conservation easement deed will outline the specific information you need for a forest management plan. Keep in mind that Forest Society requirements may be above and beyond what your town requires for Current Use purposes.
Utilizing forest resources from a timber harvest. Photo courtesy Forest Society StaffDo I need a forest management plan?
This depends on your specific easement or deed restriction. Most conservation easements completed after 1992 require a licensed forester to prepare a written management plan for the property prior to any commercial timber harvesting. The plan should be no more than 10 years old, and must include the specific goals and items outlined in your easement deed. Your forester must also provide a signed certification to your steward before the harvest begins.
Many older easements require only that forestry be performed in accordance with a coordinated management plan for the sites and soils of the property and that activities follow best management practices. Some easements implement buffers, forever wild restrictions, or other details that may affect your plans for a timber harvest.
If you need further assistance determining what your easement or deed restriction requires, please contact your regional stewardship manager.
Working with a forester
A licensed forester has a college level education in silviculture and is registered with the State to practice forestry. A forester will work with you manage your property according to your goals and has a broad understanding of forest ecology, wildlife management, and economics, as well as how to grow and harvest trees. Your forester will hire and supervise the logger during the harvest.
A logger is the person that cuts the trees and operates the equipment on site. Depending on the type of harvest, this person may be cutting logs, chipping limbs, or sorting pulpwood during the harvest. The logger delivers or contracts with a trucker to have the wood products delivered to their next destination at a saw mill or other location.
A great place to start is to contact your local Extension Forester. UNH Cooperative Extension has an excellent staff, and will come out to your property for a free consultation on forest management. Your County Forester can also provide you with contact information for foresters working in your area. Visit https://extension.unh.edu/Contact-Forestry-and-Wildlife-Staff to contact your county forester or http://extension.unh.edu/fwt/dir/index.cfm
- Is there water at or near the ground surface?
- Is the soil saturated for at least part of the growing season?
- Does the area support vegetation adapted to wet conditions?
If you answer yes to any of these, you might have a wetland on your property. Wetlands are ecologically important and should be given special consideration when planning any land management activity. Contact your location Extension Specialist or Natural Resources Conservation Service agent to schedule or to find a certified wetland scientist that can help determine the extent of wetlands on your property.
You may also have vernal pools on your property. Vernal pools are isolated, temporary pools that dry up seasonally and provide breeding grounds for several amphibian species. Their temporary nature prevents any permanent fish populations, giving amphibians a better chance of survival.
Wood frogs and salamanders use vernal pools for breeding habitat and live in the surrounding forest for the remainder of the year, often returning to the same pool annually. These species are dependent on both the vernal pool and the forested upland for their success. Changes to the surrounding forest will not only affect the shading and temperature of the pool, but may eliminate habitats that the frogs and salamanders use throughout the rest of the year.
If you think you might have a vernal pool on your property, take some time to document it in the spring while egg masses are present. Mark the boundaries and use best management practices to guide your activities near the pool.
Best Management Practices
If you are managing your property for timber, your forester should be well versed in NH Timber Harvesting Law, but your easement most likely requires that best management practices (BMPs) are followed beyond the requirements of state law. Talk to your forester about implementing BMPs for the sites, soils, and terrain of your property and plan the harvest accordingly. You’ll need to secure any necessary permits for work that impacts the wetland, and your management plan should address:
- Where roads and water crossings will be located to reduce impact on water quality, rutting and erosion.
- If buffers are necessary around your wetlands to reduce impact to highly erodible soils, known threatened or endangered species habitat, or rare plants and exemplary natural communities.
- Any areas closest to the wetland that should be left unharvested to provide increased protection to sensitive aquatic habitats.
Further information can be found in Good Forestry in the Granite State: Recommended Voluntary Forest Management Practices for New Hampshire. Easement Stewardship staff also have hard copies of this resource available for landowners.
If you conduct agricultural activities on your property, a little planning can help reduce negative impacts on these sensitive ecosystems, while also preserving the agricultural sustainability of your property. Your easement most likely requires that agriculture be performed in accordance with a management plan and follow best management practices (BMPs) for the sites and soils on your property. These BMPs include:
- Controlling access of livestock to water bodies.
- Controlling runoff from barnyards and feedlots.
- Minimizing soil erosion.
- Maintaining filter strips next to surface waters receiving runoff from crop fields where manure is applied.
Read more in the Manual of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Agriculture in New Hampshire.