Welcome!In 1969, a group of neighbors created the Piscataquog Watershed Association (PWA) to protect critical land along the Piscataquog River. Now the Piscataquog Land Conservancy (PLC), that legacy has grown to include nearly 6,000 acres on 100 conservation tracts.
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Lyndeborough: Plan may save Rose Mountain summit
Read David Brooks' story in the Nashua Telegraph on PLC's Rose Mountain Project
PLC Launches Campaign to Conserve Rose Mountain
PLC is very happy to announce that we have signed an agreement to purchase a 189-acre privately-owned property that encompasses the summit of Rose Mountain in Lyndeborough. Protecting the mountain has long been on the wish-list of conservationists in our area, and now this goal is in reach. PLC has until the end of this year to raise $170,000 and complete the purchase from the current owner. If we are successful, the summit of this well-loved local mountain will be protected forever as a PLC-managed preserve.
Rose Mountain is part of the “Lyndeborough Hills,” which also include Lyndeborough Mountain, The Pinnacle and Winn Mountain. Rose Mountain’s 1,730-foot summit offers views (or potential views) west to Crotched Mountain, Pack and North Pack, and Mount Monadnock, south into the Souhegan River Valley, north to Kearsarge-Sunapee region, and east across the entire Piscataquog River watershed all the way to Manchester. Rose Mountain itself is visible from high points throughout the region.
Like many of the hills in our area, the summit of Rose Mountain was once entirely open due to regular burning for blueberry cultivation (the practice was common into the 1970s). To this day, the blueberries on the summit are worth the trip in season. If PLC is successful in protecting the property, we hope to do some limited cutting on the immediate summit to reopen full 360-degree views.
A number of hiking trails and old woods roads run across the Rose Mountain property, making for an easy hike to the summit, and connecting to other trails to the Pinnacle and Winn Mountain. The trails also see lots of winter use by cross-country skiiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. One big downside of the mountain’s relatively easy access is that several sections of trail have been badly eroded by off-road wheeled vehicles. Some of the money PLC needs to raise for the project is to fund trail repair and stabilization work, and to control future wheeled vehicle access.
These stewardship costs, plus the purchase price of the land, and transaction expenses (appraisal, survey, etc.) will require PLC to raise about $170,000 by this fall so we are ready to close by the end of 2015. We have already secured generous early support from the McIninch Foundation, the Samuel P. Hunt Foundation and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership (thank you!) We will be applying to the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and additional private foundations over the next few months. But even if all these funding sources come though, we will need the help of PLC members and people throughout the area to get us over the finish line. The Rose Mountain project has been a long time coming, but we are finally at the starting gate. Ready, set, go!
Contributions to the Rose Mountain Campaign can be made by check or secure online donation using the "Support Us/Donate" tab of this website. Checks should be made payable to the Piscataquog Land Conservancy, and please include "Rose Mountain" in the memo line. Look for updates on the Rose Mountain project in future issues of the PLC newsletter, as well as our website and Facebook page. We will be running our first public hike to the property on Saturday May 2nd. You can register using the "Upcoming Events" tab of this website.
Photo by Tim Jones ;)
Watch Video from Gordon Russell Walk
Gordon Russell (Photo by Chris Wells)
We had a truly memorable walk on April 25th with PLC co-founder and naturalist extraordinaire Gordon Russell. Gordon led a group through PLC's Rice Nature Preserve in Lyndeborough, stopping along the way to tell the story of the property, and of the plants and animals that call this special place home. Visit our Facebook page to watch video of two of Gordon's best tales!
The First Wildflowers of Spring
By Gary J. Samuels
Early spring in the Piscataquog watershed -- snow on the ground, daytime temperatures in the 40s and at night it’s below freezing -- a perfect time to look for wildflowers! No really! In swamps, along lake and stream borders, and in forested wetlands, the first wildflower to bloom is Symplocarpus foetidus -- better known as skunk cabbage. The flower arises first from a rhizome (root) which may be up to a foot in diameter. The metabolism of the rhizome enables the plant to melt its way through the snow, and may also enhance dispersal of the plant’s famous stink, which attracts pollinating flies. The flower itself is enclosed within a purplish cowl, all of which stands 3‑6” tall. The large clump of leaves that are the ‘cabbage’ of ‘skunk cabbage’ persist throughout the season. Despite claims of edibility of skunk cabbage, don’t try it. Those leaves are loaded with calcium oxalate crystals that will make your mouth and lips sting. Another plant that is easily confused with skunk cabbage, false hellebore (Veratrum viride), is also common in our area. The leaves of the two look alike early in the season, and both are wetland species, but they are not related. The false hellebore produces a corn-like plant with stalk of flowers from the tip about once every seven years. You REALLY don’t want to eat false hellebore because it is seriously toxic.
While most people don’t think of skunk cabbage as a ‘wildflower,’ two hepaticas (Anemone americana and A. acutiloba) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are among our prettiest local flowers. In March, or even early in April soon after the snow has gone and well before frost free nights, the white or pink flowers of these species appear on the forest floor. Blunt-lobed hepatica, A. americana, occurs in dryer and more acidic sites than does the sharp-lobed hepatica, A. acutiloba. Like skunk cabbage, Bloodroot and the hepaticas arise from underground rhizomes, which provide the plants with the energy they need to bloom. The plants flower and produce their leaves before trees leaf out, and unlike many spring flowers the leaves of the plants persist throughout the year, producing food that is sent down to the rhizome. The red sap of bloodroot, found in leaves and the rhizome, gives the plant its name. The sap has been used as a dye and in Native American medicines, despite containing toxic alkaloids.
As the snow melts this spring, put on your mud boots and go looking for these early bloomers. They are some of the first signs of renewed life after a long winter, and set the stage for the trilliums, Canada mayflowers, false and ‘true’ Solomon’s seals follow later in the season.
Gary Samuels lives in Deering and is a retired plant pathologist.
Want to learn more? Join us for a wildflower walk on Saturday, May 23rd! The walk will be at the Deering Audubon Preserve and led by Gary Samuels. Register at www.plcnh.org
By Chris Borg
When I was a kid there was a secluded woodland that I frequented, especially in spring. I called the place “four ponds.” If there was an official name, I never heard it spoken by the adults responsible for such things. Regardless, I fished there often. At that point in my life fishing was becoming a gateway to the workings of nature, though I had not quite yet made this realization. That was, until one day in mid-March. The ice had just gone out on the ponds, or so I suspected, and that meant the Chain Pickerel would soon spawn. Lured by the prospects of large toothy fish willing to take my perch Rapala, I just had to get there.
On this particular early spring day, a warm light rain had fallen the night before, and what little snow cover that remained had completely melted. As I hiked the trail to the ponds, I crossed a small brook where skunk cabbage was just beginning to emerge from along its banks. The trail meandered eastward and gradually climbed a hill covered with huge, still leafless, American Beech. As I climbed I began to hear a bizarre, repetitive, almost duck-like sound. Ducks quacking in the woods? I pressed on and after hiking over a small rise, encountered the first of several small woodland pools no bigger than a bathtub. The quacking sound was much louder now, and coming directly from the nearest pool. Still not a duck in sight. As I approached, the pool suddenly fell silent and the water’s surface rippled.
Thoroughly perplexed, I knelt at the edge of the pool and waited, watching the water intently. Submerged beech leaves moved occasionally, and air bubbles rose to the surface. After what seemed like an eternity they slowly began to appear: FROGS! I instinctively lurched forward and plunged my right hand into the cold water. Bingo! I was now holding the ticket to that Pickerel I dreamed of. I carefully opened my hand to reveal a brilliant bronze-colored frog, complete with a contrasting black, bandit-like, mask through its eyes. “Wow… you’re actually kind of pretty for a frog,” I thought. Several moments passed as I knelt holding the frog. A large purplish-brown salamander with prominent yellow spots then rose to the pool’s surface. Then another salamander, and more of the same frogs too!
I decided the fish could wait. I gently set the frog free, and watched the pool for a long quiet while. More and more salamanders and frogs appeared from beneath the pool’s submerged leaves. Once again the frogs began quacking their quirky songs. My perception of the pool began to change, and it was now something spectacular to behold. Its contents were no longer mere bait but part of something bigger and far more grand. The longer I watched the pool, the more I found myself pondering its origins. How did it form on this hillside? Where did the water come from? Would the pool dry out? Were its leaves important? Where did all the salamanders and frogs come from? What kinds were they? Who else lived in there? And finally, the most fundamental question of all: why?
Over the ensuing weeks and months, fishing became mostly an excuse to visit these woodland pools as I pieced together the answers to my questions. The early spring frogs and salamanders weren’t the only things that emerged from these pools. They also awakened a young ecologist.
Chris Borg is PLC’s Stewardship Coordinator and an avid Naturalist and Outdoors enthusiast.
Read PLC's Spring Newsletter
PLC's spring newsletter is hot off the presses! Read it -- in full color -- here: PLC Spring 2015 Newsletter.
Photo: a bobcat lounges in a Francestown backyard, May 2015. Photo by Ben Haubrich
We have been hearing from our members in recent weeks about the possible re-opening of a hunting/trapping season for bobcats in New Hampshire. The hunting of the cats was closed in 1989 due to a dwindling numbers of animals, but the population has recovered significantly in recent years. Last month the NH Fish and Game Department was asked by the Fish and Game Commission (the volunteer advisory group that oversees the Department) to develop a proposal for a re-established hunting/trapping season. We have collected some links below to help PLC members learn more about the issue, and weigh in on the Fish and Game process. We want to hear your comments too!