N.H. Fish and Game's Regional Office in the North Country
By Andrew Timmins
New Hampshire's North Country is served by Fish and Game's Region 1 Office in Lancaster. Work of regional fisheries, wildlife and law enforcement staff is vital to the enhancement, management and protection of local natural resources in the region. The continued abundance of fish and wildlife to ensure recreational and aesthetic opportunities for the North Country -- and income for related businesses -- is dependent on the level of service currently provided by the Fish and Game Department. Staff protect the health of our fish and wildlife populations, coordinate conservation initiatives, work to preserve open space, and deliver essential emergency rescue services -- critical programs and services that make this part of the state a wonderful place to live, work and vacation. Following is a sampling of some of the benefits and services Fish and Game provides in the North Country:
Regional fisheries and wildlife staff routinely and systematically assess populations of trout, salmon, bass, smelt, forage fish, woodcock, grouse, waterfowl, turkey, doves, raptors, songbirds, deer, bear, moose and furbearers across the region's watersheds and forests. This, coupled with science-based management, has led to growth in the populations of a number of these species, to the benefit of wildlife watchers, outdoor enthusiasts and hunters alike.
At the Berlin and Twin Mountain State Fish Hatcheries, regional fish hatchery staff raise thousands of trout that are stocked to provide year-round angler enjoyment. Regional staff release pheasants at a number of stocking sites in Coos County.
Fish and Game staff have conducted local research projects on wild brook trout, turkeys, bear, deer, moose, spruce grouse and pine marten that have enhanced our knowledge and management of these species. Many North Country residents are likely familiar with these research initiatives, as they have been discussed at a variety of public outreach meetings.
Fish and Game is also responsible for protecting these resources for everyone's enjoyment by enforcing state laws and regulations. In addition to fish and wildlife laws, Fish and Game Conservation Officers enforce Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle (OHRV) laws. Imagine snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hiking, or snowshoeing on a backcountry trail without some level of OHRV regulation! Conservation Officers are also ready at a moment's notice, regardless of time or weather, to search for and rescue anyone lost or injured in the outdoors.
Fish and Game wildlife and law enforcement staff respond to hundreds of public calls from across the North Country each year for assistance with nuisance wildlife. Staff assess wildlife damage, educate the public and deploy materials (e.g., electric fences, trained hounds, projectiles, pyrotechnics) to minimize conflicts. Without regional assistance, wildlife/human conflicts would increase and human tolerance of and appreciation for wildlife would decline.
Regional staff also help test for diseases such as rabies, Avian Influenza and Chronic Wasting Disease that continue to threaten local wildlife populations, as well as having public health implications.
The success of wildlife and fisheries management in northern New Hampshire continues to be directly related to the protection and management of habitats and lands. Fish and Game biologists review projects and consult with private, public and industrial landowners, state and federal agencies, town planning boards and local conservation commissions to manage local resources. This collaboration and expertise protects fish and wildlife habitat and reduces impacts to critical wildlife habitat like deer wintering areas, mast stands and high-elevation areas.
As a result of recent local land conservation efforts, conservation easements --including the 25,000-acre Natural Area in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters tract -- are being monitored by regional Fish and Game biological staff. In addition to the habitat-related benefits, these working relationships with private, public, state and federal landowners and conservation organizations protect open space and promote recreational access for North Country residents and tourists. The loss of these working partnerships likely would lead to a decrease in public access and a loss of undeveloped land.
The real New Hampshire advantage is our abundant natural resources -- the wildlife and wild lands that contribute so much to our high quality of life. Through its regional office, Fish and Game, a complex organization with an ever-expanding set of duties and mandates that benefit all New Hampshire's citizens, is an important steward of these resources in the North Country.
Andrew Timmins is a wildlife biologist at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's regional office in Lancaster.
| Region 1 (North
629B Main Street
Lancaster NH 03584