Managing State Lands for Wildlife
State Lands Habitat Program Accomplishment Reports
The NH Fish and Game Department owns 89 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) encompassing nearly 52,000 acres (see a partial list of our WMAs). The primary purpose of these lands is to protect and improve habitat for wildlife to maintain the State’s native biodiversity. We meet this mission by assessing the habitats on our WMAs and restoring or improving them using a variety of techniques. Brush mowing, timber harvesting, water level management, and shrub planting are some examples of our management techniques. Read more about what habitat management is and why it’s important.
Hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife watching are rich traditions and integral parts of New Hampshire's culture and heritage. NH Fish and Game supports, encourages, preserves and manage these traditional uses on its lands. While NH Fish and Game’s primary constituents are hunters and anglers, WMA properties provide recreational opportunities for a variety of outdoor enthusiasts.
How Fish and Game Manages the Land
Many factors are considered before deciding how habitats will be managed: current habitat types, elevation, soils, topography, and land use history (e.g., harvests that have occurred in the past, agricultural history, etc.). We consider wildlife known to occur on or near the property and those that could occur. Prescriptions are outlined, plans are developed, and habitat management techniques are used to manipulate the existing habitat to get it to a desired future condition. Sometimes, the management decision is simply to do nothing.
Partners in Managing State Lands
For decades, the NH Division of Forests and Lands and Fish and Game have worked cooperatively to ensure that timber harvests on state lands help enhance wildlife habitat. In 1986 this partnership was formalized with the two agencies entering into a cooperative agreement. This agreement included the joint funding of two NHDFL foresters to work specifically on wildlife habitat improvement on state lands, particularly Fish and Game’s WMAs. Conversely, Fish and Game state lands staff plan and carry out other types of habitat improvements on state forest and parklands in addition to the Department’s WMAs. These projects include maintaining old fields and shrublands, releasing abandoned apple orchards, controlling invasive exotic plants and other work.
Learn more about how the management techniques we use to enhance habitats on our WMAs:
- Managing Fields
- Managing Forests
- Young Forest & Shrubland Management
- Managing Old Apple Orchards
- Managing Invasive Exotic Plants
- Stream Crossings
In addition to the habitat management that occurs on WMAs, owning conservation land comes with a number of other stewardship responsibilities such as boundary marking, managing access, and installing signs.
Visiting a WMA or Other State Lands
Want to visit a state property to hunt, fish, or wildlife watch or see some of the results of our work? Click on the links below to find a state land near you.
Managing Habitat in Your Own Back Yard
Interested in learning more about how you can improve habitats on your own land? From less than one to hundreds of acres, regardless of how much you own, you can do your part. Here are some helpful resources:
- Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat
- Landowners Taking Action for Wildlife
- Contact a UNH Cooperative Extension forester or wildlife specialist to help you get started
- Birds, Bees, and Butterflies!
State and Regional Habitat Initiatives
NH Fish and Game state lands staff participates in state or regional efforts that help further habitat goals on state lands.