2007 Fish and Game Commission Awardees

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Cynthia Wyatt
Cynthia Wyatt, Winner of the Ellis R. Hatch Award - Skip to story.
Amherst Conservation Commission members
Amherst Conservation Commission (ACC) members, left to right: Richard Hart, Bill Wichman and Jim Bowen. ACC earned the Conservation Organization Award - Click for story.
Charles Williams and Bambi Miller
Dr. Charles Williams, right, and Bambi Miller accepted the Habitat Stewardship Award for the N.H. Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation - Click for story.

Allan & Judith Forbes
Allan and Judith Forbes
Landowner Appreciation Award
Winners - Click for story.

CONTACT:
Judy Stokes: (603) 271-3211
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211

Four Honored with Fish and Game Commission Awards of Excellence

CONCORD, N.H. -- Four New Hampshire citizens and organizations have been recognized by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission with Awards of Excellence for their efforts in the conservation field in support of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's mission.  The annual awards honor outstanding achievements by individuals and groups outside Fish and Game in furthering the work of the Department. 

"Fish and Game relies on many dedicated partners, supporters and volunteers who we work with every day to further wildlife conservation in the state," said Fish and Game Commission Chairman Robert Phillipson.  "These awards allow us to express our thanks for their hard work and diligence in conserving and managing the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources."

The Commission 2007 Award of Excellence recipients:

1. The Ellis R. Hatch Jr. Commission Award of Excellence was presented to Cynthia Wyatt of Milton Mills, N.H.   Through her contributions to Moose Mountain Regional Greenways, along with the Siemon Family Trust and the Branch Hill Farm, she has been instrumental in keeping thousands of acres of land open to hunting, fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation. The Ellis Hatch Award recognizes an individual, group, organization, club, foundation or agency that has excelled in efforts to promote, enhance or benefit fish, wildlife or marine resources or Fish and Game's mission through any variety of involvement.

"Ms. Wyatt exemplifies the legacy of Ellis Hatch, a long-term advocate of the outdoor life," said Commissioner Phillipson. Wyatt is a founding member of and presently co-chairs the board of the Moose Mountain Regional Greenways and has worked to conserve 2,200 acres on Moose Mountain, which coincidentally abuts the Ellis Hatch Wildlife Management Unit owned by Fish and Game. Another 3,000 conservation acres form the "Siemon Access," of which Wyatt is the director and which is open to the public for hunting, fishing and other recreation.

In 2006, through the Moose Mountain Regional Greenways, Wyatt helped secure 197 acres of land along the Mad River in Farmington, providing 2,700 feet of river frontage managed by Fish and Game. Wyatt also has been instrumental in securing 116 acres along the Union Meadows in Wakefield for conservation, allowing sportsmen and women a quality fishery. She has been involved in the Salmon Falls Headwater project to protect 300 acres in the upper reaches of the Salmon Falls River, a large portion of which Fish and Game will manage as a fishery.  The Siemon Family Trust agreed to donate 375 acres of property along Jones Brook to Fish and Game as part of the match for the Salmon Falls Headwater Project. This land is also part of the Siemon Access. The Siemon Family Trust's 3000-acre Branch Hill Farm includes miles of multi-use trails and borders Jones Brook and the Salmon Falls and Branch rivers.  Wyatt hosts many outdoor education events at her farm, including nature walks and other conservation learning opportunities like the yearly Branch River Paddle and the Woods, Water and Wildlife Festival.

In nominating her for the award, Fish and Game Conservation Officer Mark Hensel reflected, "The state of New Hampshire, the Fish and Game Department and all sportsmen owe Wyatt a debt of gratitude for her work and contributions." 

2. The Amherst Conservation Commission (ACC) earned the Conservation Organization Award of Excellence for leadership in promoting a multi-use philosophy toward its land.  This award recognizes an organization, foundation or agency that has excelled in efforts to enhance the welfare of fish, wildlife and marine resources and promoted the wise use of natural resources for recreational or economic value.  Amherst Conservation Commission members Richard Hart, Bill Wichman and Jim Bowen accepted the award.

"Conservation Commissions in each town and city in New Hampshire are created by state statute and charged with proper use and protection of the natural resources and for the protection of watershed resources in towns. The Amherst Conservation Commission has taken a broad view of their mission and this has benefited the public and Fish and Game," said Commissioner Phillipson.  "Most importantly, they support a multi-use philosophy with their lands. Unlike towns such as Bedford and Hollis, which have large tracts of land that restrict or prohibit hunting, Amherst welcomes it."

The ACC has had an active land acquisition program to protect vital open lands, invigorated by a 5-year, $5.5 million Town Warrant.  It created the Peabody Mill Environmental Center, located on the 558-acre Joe English Reservation, to support environmental and outdoor education.

The Amherst Conservation Commission has shown leadership in providing strong support for multiple uses of the land under its stewardship, including hunting and fishing.  Fish and Game Conservation Officer Todd Szewczyk, speaking at a town Selectmen and ACC joint meeting, said, "I use Amherst as an example of how a town can prepare for and support hunters as well as other public land users."  This philosophy is posted on bright orange signs at the trailheads, which state: "ACC allows for many users of our public land and trails.  This includes hunters.  Below are the hunting seasons and dates for this year.  As a precaution, please wear bright clothing and recognize that there are many people using this public land." 

In nominating the Amherst Conservation Commission for this award, former member David L Gagne said, "The ACC stands as an example of enlightened and educated community members, living in a rapidly changing and complex community, who support conservation and who have retained the values and beliefs of conservation, hunting and outdoor life and education."

3. The Commission Award of Excellence for Habitat Stewardship went to the New Hampshire State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for its program providing landowners with packages of trees and shrubs that improve the New Hampshire environment for wildlife, providing critical food for wild turkeys and other wildlife during the winter months. The Habitat Stewardship award recognizes an organization, individual or corporation that has excelled in the enhancement, conservation or creation of land management practices beneficial to New Hampshire's fish, wildlife and marine resources and the Department's mission.

The award was accepted by retired University of New Hampshire plant science professor Dr. Charles H. Williams, President of the local NWTF chapter in Durham, N.H.; and Bambi Miller, District Manager of the Strafford County Conservation District, which coordinates the statewide distribution of the plant packages for habitat plots.  The Chapter now offers a $75 rebate on each order as an incentive for landowners to participate and take care of their wildlife plantings.

"One of the limiting factors to expansion of developing turkey flocks in New Hampshire is the amount of winter food and cover," said Williams.  "If landowners put out plant materials that retain fruits, nuts and seeds into the winter months, it benefits turkeys and other wildlife, including nongame species."

During the first years of the program, Williams, in consultation with Fish and Game Turkey Biologist Ted Walski, developed a list of suitable plants for the wild turkey habitat improvement packages, selecting for hardiness, insect and disease tolerance and value to wildlife.  The bare-root stock includes shrubs such as hawthorn, hazelnut, high-bush cranberry and semi-dwarf crabapple trees.  Landowners agree to plant them in areas away from buildings and roads to enhance use by flocks. 

As the project grew, the Chapter partnered with the state Conservation Districts to reach a broader audience.  "We have been working together since 1997 to provide this opportunity to landowners so that they can provide winter food and cover for wildlife during the most critical time of year, when food is hard to find," said Miller.  "The NH Chapter of the NWTF is working to make this packet affordable and available to landowners who are willing to take the time to plant and take care of the plantings, and we are supporting their effort." 

Over the past ten years, 40-50 landowners annually have taken advantage of this opportunity to obtain quality plants at a reasonable price. So far, a total of 500 habitat packages have been distributed, going to people from every county in New Hampshire.  Other states are now looking at the New Hampshire program - the first of its kind in the country -- as a way to improve habitat for wildlife.

4. The Commission Award of Excellence for Landowner Appreciation was presented to Allan and Judith Forbes of Lancaster, N.H., whose farm has grown from 350 acres and 150 cattle in 1968, to 2,700 acres and 2,600 head of cattle today, providing habitat for wildlife and keeping land open for hunters and anglers.  The Landowner Appreciation Award recognizes an individual who excelled in the preservation or enhancement of opportunities for public use on private property as it benefits the Department's mission.

"The Forbes leave their land open to hunters, anglers, trappers and snowmobilers, providing excellent opportunities for recreation of all types. Today, more than ever, landowners like Allan and Judy are key to maintaining our traditional outdoor activities and the license sales that sustain the Department's work," said Commissioner Phillipson. "In giving this award to the Forbes, the Fish and Game Commission also recognizes the many unsung landowners who are a part of what makes this state such a great place to live, work and get outdoors."

Spanning both sides of the Connecticut River from Lancaster south almost to Gilman, the Forbes Farm is a mix of fields, pastures, miles of cornfields, hard and soft wood forest and wetlands.  The property is home to countless turkey, deer, moose, ducks, geese, partridge and other wildlife, including coyote, fox and bear.  The local snowmobile club in Lancaster, the SnoDrifters, maintains trails and bridges on the Forbes property. 

"The Forbes are a hard-working family who have always been hospitable to people who hunt and fish.  They have never posted their land and don't mind hunters as long they close the gates and don't drive where they shouldn't," said Brian Connors of Nottingham, the hunter and angler who nominated the Forbes for the award. "Seldom does anyone say thank you," he added. "The Forbes Farm is a precious commodity.  Their achievements in woodland and field growth ensure plenty of game to harvest as well as recreational activities to enjoy.  If this land were posted, we would lose 2,700 acres of beautiful wild New Hampshire."

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The Fish and Game Commission Award winners are profiled in the November-December 2008 issue of N.H. Wildlife Journal Magazine. Click here to view (PDF will launch in a new window).

New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission Award of Excellence Nominations must be submitted annually by December 31.  Click here for a commission award application or call (603) 271-3511. 

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