UNH Cooperative Extension Forestry and Wildlife Program Visits BHF

UNH Cooperative Extension Forestry and Wildlife Program published this post to their Facebook page:

At our staff meeting last week, the Forestry & Wildlife staff visited Branch Hill Farm in Milton with Charlie Moreno, the forester for this piece of the property. Charlie told us that historically this site was heavily cut, and repeatedly. What he found when he started working on the property almost 10 years ago was a lack of diversity. Beech had overtaken much of the understory. He’s been working since to bring back more pine, oak and other species. Beech is great for wildlife, but more diversity of food options is better!

 

Charlie describes the property and the work that’s been done so far.

Some pine saplings were planted, while others have naturally regenerated.

Can you find all the foresters in this thicket of beech?

Charlie and a sugar maple

Paddlers invited to annual Branch River Paddle with Moose Mountains Regional Greenways on May 26

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: May 8, 2017

Paddlers invited to annual Branch River Paddle with Moose Mountains Regional Greenways on May 26

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) are teaming up once again to offer canoe and kayak enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy a group paddle of the pristine Branch River in Milton Mills, NH. The event will take place 10 am – 2 pm on Saturday, May 26. It features a 4-mile scenic trip along the conserved banks of the Branch River to the upper end of Milton Three Ponds. Participants and their boats will be transported back to the launch site, where a picnic lunch by Chef Gracie will be provided.

Colin Lawson of Trout Unlimited (TU) will be this year’s guest presenter. Lawson has a Masters in Environmental Science from Antioch New England University and works as the New England Culvert Project Coordinator for TU. His focus is to reconnect Eastern brook trout habitat in priority New England watersheds through the retrofitting or removal of currently impassable road stream crossings and other instream barriers. At the Paddle, Lawson will talk about fish habitats and the process of reconnecting streams such as the Branch and Salmon Falls Rivers so fish can access upstream cold waters and places to spawn. He’ll also address the vulnerability of undersized dams and culverts during so-called ‘100-year’ storms and the consequences of the resulting floods.

Paddle stops along the way give paddlers a chance to learn more about and appreciate these environs. In particular, the lush wetland area near the confluence of the Branch and Salmon Falls Rivers is a prime birdwatching spot for riparian species. Paddlers are encouraged to bring binoculars to enjoy possible sightings of kingfishers, yellow warblers, Baltimore orioles, osprey and more.

Paddlers should bring their own kayaks or canoes and wear US Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices. Children should be 12 years or older and accompanied by an adult. This event is extremely popular and spaces are limited, so early registration is advised. All reservations must be made by the morning of Thursday, May 24; contact MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or info@mmrg.info with your name, phone number, and the number of people who will attend. A $15 per person donation is suggested and may be made at the event or online at MMRG’s website, www.mmrg.info. There is no rain date and participants are requested to leave pets at home.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. Branch Hill Farm/CSFCT is a private operating foundation whose mission is to conserve land, produce quality timber products, and educate people about sound forestry practices and conservation. For more information, visit www.branchhillfarm.org. MMRG would like to thank the business co-sponsor of this event, M&M Boat Storage in Wakefield.

 

Kate Wilcox Branch River-38

Colin Lawson

Jared Kane demonstrates grafting techniques to MMRG’s Grafting Workshop participants in the barn at Branch Hill Farm.(Kari Lygren)

 

Apple Tree Grafting Workshop Attracts Loads of Apple Lovers

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 4/19/2018

 Apple Tree Grafting Workshop Attracts Loads of Apple Lovers

The recent first-ever Apple Tree Grafting Workshop offered by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) was record-breaking in its popularity. With hands-on participants capped at twenty, the registration list filled up a month early, and another forty were on a waiting list hoping to come and learn to graft their own tree, ten of whom decided to attend just the introductory slide presentations on pruning and grafting. The class was hosted and co-sponsored by Branch Hill Farm and taught by Jared Kane, owner of Jug Hill Orchards in Milton Mills.

Kane, who grows cider specific apples and has won national awards for his hard cider, is knowledgeable about all things related to apple trees and apples. Jill Vendituoli, a workshop participant from West Newfield, ME and an apple cider enthusiast, and was thrilled to attend and learn from Kane. An experienced orchardist herself with 35 apple trees, she thought Kane provided lots of good information about how to bring back an old neglected orchard. After the workshop, she fluently summed up the basic principles of pruning. “The whole idea is to let light into the trees and keep air flowing. Jared told us an old saying as a rule of thumb, ‘You want to be able to throw a cat through the branches.’ So don’t be afraid to prune, but don’t take off more than 30% at a time.”

Vendituoli was particularly interested in getting a refresher on grafting, the focus of the second half of the workshop. Participants were given a root stock of a variety of Russian apple tree, which is very hardy and can withstand the cold NH climate, and were offered a scion (a branch that gets grafted onto the rootstock) taken from an old local heirloom apple. Most people learned the tongue and whip technique of grafting, done on scions of the same diameter branch as the root stock stem, matching up the cambium along one edge.

Mikel O’Brien of Union, NH learned to graft her own small tree, which is now in her basement. Although grafted trees may become sturdier and more disease resistant than native trees, newly-grafted trees are quite fragile for about a year. O’Brien recited the care her new tree will take. After 2 weeks of ‘nursery time’ in the basement, she’ll put it in a semi-shady spot and keep it watered, buy a crabapple tree to pollinate it, and plant them both next fall, being sure to protect them from nibbling creatures over the winter. She quipped, “I feel like I’m having a baby! Right now it just look like a stick wrapped with tape in a pot. But I’m optimistic that it’ll become a real tree. And the workshop was fun! I’d like to have a reunion next year to see how everyone’s trees are doing.”

MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren was equally enthusiastic. “The workshop was phenomenal and we’re delighted there’s so much local interest in apple trees. MMRG supports local agriculture so given the popularity of this workshop, a repeat next year sounds like an excellent idea.”

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

MMRG workshop participants work on grafting their own small apple tree (Sharon Buttirck)

MMRG workshop participants examine a scion to graft to root stock (Amy Gardner)

Jug Hill Cider Orchard owner Jared Kane presents information on grafting and pruning apple trees to workshop attendees in the barn at Branch Hill farm. (Kari Lygren)

 

MMRG’s Apple Tree Grafting Workshop set for April 14

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 3/20/2018

MMRG’s Apple Tree Grafting Workshop set for April 14

On Saturday, April 14, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust will offer an apple tree grafting class from 10 am to 12 pm at the barn at Branch Hill Farm, 307 Applebee Road in Milton Mills. The class will be taught by Jared Kane, owner of Jug Hill Orchards, and will take place rain or shine.

Jared Kane started his own cider specific apple orchard in Milton Mills and has won national awards for his hard cider. For this workshop, Kane will teach the art of grafting apple trees and the basics of pruning and care. The workshop will include an introductory slide presentation as well as hands-on training. By the end of the class, each person will have completed grafting their own small apple tree to take home in a pot, with a scion collected from an heirloom tree that bears excellent apples for fresh eating or cider. If time and weather permit, the class will take a short walk to see some wild apple trees growing at Branch Hill Farm.

The workshop cost is $10 to cover supplies. Pre-registration is required by April 11 and earlier registration is advised since class size is limited to twenty. To pre-register, call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info. Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

Jared Kane at favorite apple tree

‘Little Trackers’ Offered Fun and Learning for Families

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 2/27/2018

‘Little Trackers’ Offered Fun and Learning for Families

Kids love to learn about animals and they love to have fun in the snow. They got to do both at the recent ‘Little Trackers’ outing sponsored by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust. This event was the second in MMRG’s new ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program of activities that creates opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors together while learning about nature, in order to foster future generations of conservationists.

Coverts volunteers Emily Lord of UNH Cooperative Extension and Middleton Pastor Tom Gardner planned a variety of activities to keep kids interested and having fun as they explored the snowy field and woods at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills. Kids went sledding, tried out walking in snowshoes, and crowded around the leaders as they pointed out signs of wildlife on a trail leading down to the river.

Turkey tracks, coyote tracks, and possible skunk and fox tracks were all discovered. Kids learned to compare the tracks in the snow to the footprints pictured on tracking ID cards that were handed out. They also learned that wildlife scat, better known as ‘poop’, could be examined (poked at with a stick) to find out what the animal had been eating and identify the creature that left it. Coyotes, for example, often eat small rodents and leave scat filled with bones and fur on top of a rock or in the middle of a trail to mark their territory.

At the edge of the woods, kids stood still and listened intently after Emily Lord whispered for quiet. Upon the approach from field to forest, she had started to hear sounds of birds and wanted the children to notice them. Among the bird songs, the ‘dee-dee-dee’ call of Chickadees was familiar and successfully identified by one young participant.

Tom Gardner delighted kids with his ‘discovery’ of a pile of pretend deer poop (planted in advance) consisting of raisinets that looked uncannily like the real thing. After clear instructions that they should never eat real deer scat, kids followed Gardner’s lead and happily popped some into their mouths.

At the end of the outing, almost-4-year-old Caleb, son of Tom and Amy Gardner, proclaimed “I like coming here.” When asked what he saw, he remembered the turkey tracks and pointed them out on his tracking card.

An East Wakefield family of five were newcomers to the ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program. The mother of three was enthusiastic, saying, “I’m always looking for family activities and I was happy to find these events. My 6-year-old twins really liked snowshoeing; it was a great chance for them to try it out today with the loaner snowshoes.”

‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ stands for Members Only Outdoor and Social Events for Families and the program of six ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ activities per year is free for MMRG members. Membership is $25 per household per year. Other 2018 upcoming events are: ‘Ponding with Sally Cornwell’ on May 19, ‘Rail Trail Scavenger Hunt’ on June 23, the 16th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival on August 11, and ‘Family Moonlight Walk’ on September 22. Scholarships are available; call Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns at (603) 473-2020 to inquire.

MMRG is a non-profit land trust educational outreach organization; see www.mmrg.info. Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

Sledding on hill 3

Chocolate coated rasins pretend deer poop

Discovery on the trail (Amy gardner)

Looking at poop

Looking at tracks

 

‘Little Trackers’ Family Snowshoe Activity set for February 24

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 2/1/2018

‘Little Trackers’ Family Snowshoe Activity set for February 24

On Saturday, February 24, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust will offer a kids’ snowshoe tracking activity as part of MMRG’s new program of nature-oriented events for families called ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’. ‘Little Trackers’ will take place at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills with leaders Emily Lord of UNH Cooperative Extension and Middleton Pastor Tom Gardner and help from MMRG staff and volunteers.

Emily Lord is Stewardship Outreach Coordinator for UNH Cooperative Extension and a member of MMRG’s Board of Directors. Her passion for wildlife tracking began as a winter camp counselor for Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center in Laconia.

In addition to serving as Pastor at Middleton Gospel Chapel, Tom Gardner teaches the Middleton Nature Club after-school program. He captivated children and adults alike at MMRG’s Family Bonfire Storytime event last October with his stories of real-life strange and creepy organisms. Both Lord and Gardner trained as NH Coverts Project volunteers and serve on MMRG’s Education Outreach Committee, which designed MMRG’s new MOOSE-ies for Families program.

MOOSE-ies for Families creates opportunities for families to have fun together outdoors while learning about nature, in order to foster future generations of conservationists. Anticipating the upcoming event, Pastor Tom said, “Little Trackers is a chance to introduce kids to the animals that share our community and show them how to read the signs and stories that wildlife leave behind, like footprints, food, and much more.” Emily Lord added, “The first MOOSE-ies for Families event was so much fun, we’re really looking forward to this next one!”

The event is planned for 10 – 11:30 am on February 24. Although it is designed as a snowshoe activity while looking for tracks in the snow, trip leaders confirm it will take place even if snow is scarce. In case of rain, however, it will be postponed to Sunday, February 25, 1 – 2:30 pm.  Children of all ages are welcome with their families and loaner snowshoes for both kids and adults will be available. The outing is free for MMRG member families (see below) but pre-registration is required. For more information, directions, and to pre-register, call MMRG’s Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info.

‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ stands for Members Only Outdoor and Social Events for Families and the program of six ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ activities per year is free for MMRG members. For interested families who are not current MMRG members, the requirement is fulfilled with a minimum of $25 per household per year membership donation. Other 2018 upcoming events are: ‘Ponding with Sally Cornwell’ on May 19, ‘Rail Trail Scavenger Hunt’ on June 23,   the 16th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival on August 11, and ‘Family Moonlight Walk’ on September 22. If the membership fee is a financial burden, families may inquire of Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns about available scholarships by calling (603) 473-2020.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

MooseMountainsRunAround2018_ELordPhoto-48 MooseMountainsRunAround2018_ELordPhoto-50

Forestry Workshops Inspired Woodlot Owners and Woodworkers

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 11/22/2017 

Forestry Workshops Inspired Woodlot Owners and Woodworkers

In early November, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) teamed up with Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust to offer two forestry workshops led by consulting forester Charlie Moreno. ‘Restoration of a Forest’ and ‘Wood: From Forest to Workbench’ showcased two Branch Hill Farm-owned properties in Milton where Moreno has worked to improve the long term quality of the forest through sustainable forestry practices. The Restoration Workshop was intended for woodlot owners, whereas the Forest to Workbench Workshop was aimed at woodworkers; several enthusiastic participants attended both.

Both workshops covered the economics of forest products — the costs of cutting, trucking and milling (different for hardwoods and softwoods) to prepare the tree products for market, and the potential value of timber from a poor quality stand up through an exceptional quality stand.  For example, high quality hardwood veneer logs can be worth 20 times as much as an equal volume of firewood.    

Participants learned how to size up a tree for its timber value. A high value tree is straight, sound, and limbless, so the boards have no knots.  For white pine, long log lengths are important. Special and valuable hardwood grains, or ‘figure’, such as ‘tiger maple’ or ‘curly maple’ are sometimes revealed after logs are milled into boards. Board footage can be estimated from the measured circumference and height of the tree, with adjustments for defects. The branches and treetop generally yield only low value products such as firewood, pulp, or chipwood.

Sustainable management is key to cultivating a high value timber stand over the long term, and insuring that the forest is regenerated.  A sustainably managed forest will be diverse in tree species and ages, including some mature high quality timber trees to propagate by seed. A forest that has been high-graded (all the best trees removed, sometimes repeatedly) will quickly lose both its timber value and resilience to disease or disturbance but can be coaxed back to health and quality timber with good forestry practices.

In the Jones Brook East forest, which had been severely high-graded before purchase by Branch Hill Farm, American beech had taken over and white pine was nearly absent in large areas. Although beech is valuable for wildlife and is used for lower value wood products such as dowels and firewood, a beech monoculture is unhealthy.  A lack of species diversity reduces forest value for both timber and wildlife habitat. Moreno showed Restoration Workshop attendees several steps being taken to restore this forest, including removal of beech in a biomass harvest, planting of thousands of white pine seedlings supplemented by natural regeneration, and successive forest stand improvement (FSI) treatments to ‘release’ desirable seedlings and saplings by cutting nearby beech. These FSI treatments allow critical light to penetrate through to the wanted young trees and stimulate their growth. If given such a chance, most trees will grow an inch in diameter every year. Experiments are also underway to determine the most effective and cost efficient means to slow beech regeneration by comparing various sapling cutting intervals in several beech thicket plots.

Forest to Workbench participants learned to identify the many hardwood species of trees that are the source of the types of wood they love to work with and to recognize the tree species of milled boards. They also learned about scaling logs and the meticulous process of air drying lumber after milling. Carefully stacked boards and slower air drying is crucial early on.

MMRG member Frank Frazier was one of those attending both workshops. Afterwards, Frank said, “I was very inspired by these workshops. My biggest take-away was the passion Charlie Moreno has to look at the forest and think not just 5 or 20 years but 1,000 years ahead and to start the process of putting the forest back into balance after 300 years of mankind’s heavy hand upon the land. And he gave some great practical info on how to maximize future revenues on the trees you have now, how to manage your woodlands not only for bio-diversity but also for growing trees that can become valuable veneer logs and saw logs down the road.”  

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

Restoration of a Forest’ workshop attendees posed for a group photo with forester Charlie Moreno (third from left with white cup). Photo by Kari Lygren

Wood From Forest to Workbench’ taught workshop participants how to size up logs for their timber value. Photo by Kari Lygren

 

 

Two Forestry Workshops with Charlie Moreno

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

Two Forestry Workshops with Charlie Moreno

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will offer two forestry workshops led by consulting forester Charlie Moreno. The first, ‘Restoration of a Forest’, has been re-scheduled for Saturday, November 4, from 10 am to 12 pm in the Jones Brook East forest of Branch Hill Farm in Milton. The second, ‘Wood: From Forest to Workbench’ will take place on Sunday, November 5 from 9 am to noon in Branch Hill Farm’s Branch River West forest on Plummers Ridge in Milton.

The Jones Brook East forest was severely ‘high–graded’ before BHF purchased it, meaning that nearly all the high value trees had been removed, a common problem in NH. In the Saturday Forest Restoration workshop, Moreno will show how various forestry practices implemented over the last nine years have begun to improve the forest’s health and its value for timber. He’ll also discuss the economics of doing nothing versus active restoration practices and talk about how to deal with the problem of beech taking over after high-grading. The workshop will entail less than a mile of walking with several stops for discussion, and is appropriate for woodlot owners, forestry students and professionals, and anyone interested in the health of our forests.

The Sunday Forest to Workbench workshop will be of interest to woodworkers and wood enthusiasts. Moreno’s goal is to make the connection between wood that woodworkers love to use for woodworking and the forests that it comes from, such as wood grown here in our own backyards of NH and Maine. He’ll walk participants through the sustainably-managed Branch River West forest, showing the high quality timber that can come from this mixed-age forest and how it is being grown for the future. He’ll talk about the products and values that come from trees, the common tree species and their wood qualities for use in different projects, and the process of milling and drying your own wood.

As a consulting forester, Charlie Moreno manages over 30,000 acres of forests for private landowners, conservation organizations, and communities in southern New Hampshire and Maine, including the forests of Branch Hill that are the sites for these workshops. In addition, he is a long-term hobbyist woodworker, learning ‘everything he knows’ at the Homestead Woodworking School in Newmarket. When speaking of his own woodworking, Moreno claims to just fool around. But he adds, “I love wood. For my projects, I never buy the wood. I always get the logs and cut them, dry them and use them to make something such as a piece of furniture. That way, I always know where a piece comes from.”

These workshops are free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, please call MMRG’s Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info. Please do not bring pets to these events.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

charlie in orange jacket birghtened

charlie in orange jacket birghtened

cherry tree cherry boards and cherry bureau in the making

cherry tree cherry boards and cherry bureau in the making

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

A Choice of Two Free Forestry Workshops in October

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 9/14/2017

A Choice of Two Free Forestry Workshops in October

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) are teaming up to offer two free outdoor forestry workshops. The first, ‘Attributes of a Northern Hardwood Forest on an Enriched Soil,’ from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday, October 7, will be led by forester Dan Stepanauskas; the second, ‘Restoration of a Forest,’ will be taught by forester Charlie Moreno from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, October 21.

Daniel Stepanauskas has been a consulting forester in New Hampshire for well over thirty years.  He works on the sustainable management of private and municipal forest lands, using light-touch management techniques and imitating nature’s design to achieve the desired results. In his Hardwood Ecology workshop, Stepanauskas will take participants through hardwood forests owned by Branch Hill Farm in Wakefield and point out the wide array of bird and wildlife habitats in a mature hardwood stand and show how soils determine forest composition, soil chemistry and nutrient levels. He’ll discuss how to decide which sites to manage and what to preserve by using your mind’s eye to watch a forest grow. Implicit in that process is our understanding of the ability of different tree species to tolerate a changing climate. Stepanauskas also plans to talk about fungus and carbon sequestration, but nevertheless promises unlimited time for questions and discussion.

With over thirty years as consulting forester under his belt, Charlie Moreno has managed over 30,000 acres of forests for private landowners, conservation organizations, and communities in southern New Hampshire and Maine, including the forests of Branch Hill Farm and the BHF Jones Brook East forest site of this workshop. The Jones Brook forest was severely ‘high–graded’ before BHF purchased it, meaning that nearly all the high value trees had been removed, a common problem in NH. Moreno will show how various forestry practices implemented over the last nine years have begun to improve the forest’s health and its value for timber. He’ll also discuss the economics of doing nothing versus active restoration practices and talk about how to deal with the problem of beech taking over after high-grading. The workshop will entail less than a mile of walking with several stops for discussion, and is appropriate for woodlot owners, forestry students and professionals, and anyone interested in the health of our forests.

Both workshops are free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. For more information and to pre-register, please call MMRG’s Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

Dan Stepanauskas in the woods (David Levin)

Dan Stepanauskas with workshop participants (David Levin)

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was a day of fun and learning

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
(603)-817-8260
info@mmrg.info

Submitted: August 16, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was a day of fun and learning

 
Close to 700 people joined in a multitude of activities celebrating our great outdoors as part of the 15th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival in Milton Mills.  Presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm (BHF), this annual festival provides a day of fun, exploration and learning about nature for families, a crucial step in making sure the next generation appreciates and strives to conserve our region’s natural resources.

 

An informal poll of kids found that an overwhelming majority picked Nature’s Playground as kids could find a myriad of ways to play: swing on a rope, jump between log stumps, climb on a treehouse, walk along a fallen log, or pass through a giant twine spider web. Fishing in the Branch Hill Farm pond was another popular activity, with several children eager to report what fish they had caught. Instruction and poles were provided by NH Fish & Game volunteers.

 

Festival attendee Dorothy Smith also responded to the question about favorite events, “As an adult observing, I thought the best event was kids cutting the log because they were the most involved in that activity, and it’s something real that happens in the forest.” The log cutting event is called Tree Cookies; kids cut thin slices of a pine log, resembling cookies, using a two-person crosscut saw. Lots of kids were eager to try their hand at the saw under the watchful eye and help from a MMRG volunteer. The craft tent where they painted their ‘cookies’ was busy from the beginning to end of the day. Said volunteer coordinator Cheryl Giguere, “Kids did not want to leave this event!”

 

Building bee houses was another Festival craft activity with a purpose. Kids inserted straws, made of the hollow stems of Japanese knotweed, into soft clay at the bottom of a pot to create a place for our important native pollinators to nest. A similar project building bird houses was popular in previous years. The Moscaritolo kids from Massachusetts had made a bird house at the festival a few years back and now have tree swallows nesting in it every year. Said Paul Moscaritolo, “Now we’ll place the kids’ new bee houses next to some flowers and watch for bees using them.”

 

The lively fiddle and guitar tunes played by the York River Ramblers got several folks up and dancing, including Nancy Cole, who swayed around with her young grandson Silas in her arms.  At a music break, she enthused about the terrific apple grafting information she had learned at All About Apples by Jug Hill Cider Orchard, one of several new festival offerings. A new permaculture installation of winding paths among raised beds planted with heirloom vegetables was also well received. Here Comes the Sun brought solar energy to the festival for the first time and allowed people to charge their electronic devices with solar power. Alternative energy has long been a part of the WWW Festival, however, in the form of the Smoothie Bike. On this contraption, kids use leg power to blend frozen blueberries and other ingredients into a thick fruity drink, a ‘huge hit’ this year, according to Giguere.

 

As MMRG’s biggest annual outreach event, the WWW Festival also serves as a major fundraiser with proceeds supporting MMRG’s land conservation and outreach missions. MMRG is grateful to its festival underwriters, the Siemon Company and BHF/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust and to its major festival sponsors: Bruce and Jennifer Rich, Carl and Beth Siemon, DF Richard Energy, Frank Massin Agency, the Hays-Dombrower Family, Norman Vetter Poured Foundations, S&S Plumbing and Heating, and the Wyatt Family. Additional thanks to Beverly Siemon, Charlie Moreno Consulting Forester, Devonshire Realty, Dottie Bean, Eastern Boats, EOS Research, Gene Hays, Great East Lake Improvement Association, Liberty Mutual, MapleStone Farm, Milton Veterinary Clinic, New England Furniture, Profile Bank, Proulx Oil & Propane, and Wentworth Hunt.

 

Moose Mountains Regional Greenway is a non-profit land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro (see www.mmrg.info). Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is a private operating foundation (see www.branchhillfarm.org).

 

Kids intent on collecting specimens from Branch River (Photo: Kate Wilcox)

Girl stump hopping in Natures Playground (Photo: Kate Wilcox)

4H kids use crosscut log to saw tree cookie with volunteer Bill Malay helping (Photo: Kate Wilcox)