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Field Site Selection
During the early- and mid-summer 1999, staff of the New Hampshire chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) met with the town residents, town officials, Dartmouth faculty members, and other local experts to prioritize sites for fieldwork within the town. After combining map features with a review of available database information and aerial photographs, fieldwork was focused in those areas most likely to contain significant natural features. Choice of field sites was based on:
- local expertise:
- areas known to be significant from a biodiversity standpoint
- current "conservation" lands (see below)
- unfragmented forest blocks
- known presence of rare species or significant habitats, based on data from the NH. Natural Heritage Inventory database
- topography, hydrology, forest cover types, bedrock, soils, regional contiguous forest "blocks," and landscape diversity, based on review of mapping resources
- wetlands outlined on National Wetland Inventory (NWI) maps
- other lands thought to have a high potential for the presence of significant natural features, and lands deemed representative of common natural communities and forest types
During the 1999 summer growing season, we conducted field visits to selected sites (see above). These were on lands for which we had permission to enter, or lands that were currently open to the public for recreation and nature study. More than thirty private landowners were contacted in writing by the Town of Hanover for permission to visit their land and conduct inventory. None refused access to The Nature Conservancy. We utilized field methods developed by TNC and the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory (NHNHI). In order to describe the dominant natural communities at an observation point or site, we recorded:
- all vascular plant species, with estimates of % cover
- slope aspect presence of exposed bedrock
- general soil and hydrologic descriptions
- other descriptive data
We recorded all information on NHNHI field forms (Appendix 4), and we took photographs at most observation points (Appendix 2).
In addition to fieldwork, we collected a variety of Geographic Information System (GIS) digital mapping information to produce and analyze maps of Hanover. In order to provide a perspective on the regional landscape context, we produced maps of thirteen additional neighboring towns in New Hampshire.
Information compiled included development trends, population statistics, protected lands, and projected loss of natural areas. We compared Hanover's statistics with thirteen neighboring towns in New Hampshire in order to place Hanover within a regional perspective. The towns selected represent a two-town buffer in every direction (except west-Vermont statistics and maps were not available). They include Orford, Wentworth, Rumney, Lyme, Dorchester, Groton, Canaan, Orange, Lebanon, Enfield, Grafton, Plainfield, and Grantham. The source of information for most population and landscape development trends came from New Hampshire's Changing Landscape; Population Growth, Land Use Conversion, and Resource Fragmentation in the Granite State (1999), a report co-produced by the New Hampshire chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire's Forests. A copy is provided with this report.