Acts of Green
AMHERST – The Town of Amherst is fortunate to have a diversity of open space which supports different habitats and wildlife. The Amherst Conservation Commission (ACC) is authorized through NH legislation, Chapter 36-A of the New Hampshire revised statutes “to assure the proper utilization and protection of the natural resources and for the protection of watershed resources.” To that end, since 1968 the ACC (a group of Town volunteers) protects and manages the town’s biodiversity and natural resources, and promotes the public use of natural open space for low-impact outdoor recreation that is consistent with conservation.
Protecting these natural resources is a cause that a majority of NH residents support, regardless of political orientation. To hunters, hikers, bikers, birders, wildlife watchers, anglers, gardeners, and/or forest stewards, the conservation ethic represents cross-cutting values we hold close. These values lead us to protect and build upon our conservation heritage, for present and future generations.
The ACC has conserved approximately 2,600 acres of land in our Town, which benefits both wildlife and people. These 2,600 acres represent diverse habitats including pine and oak forests, wetlands, rivers and streams, aquifers and grasslands. Land is not conserved haphazardly but based on a set of conservation principles. As an example, the ACC works to promote habitat connectivity; that is, the degree to which the landscape helps or hinders animal movement and other ecological processes, such as seed dispersal. Improving habitat connectivity provides safe pathways for wildlife on the ground, and means wildlife will always be able to get where they need to go.
To assure that Town conservation lands remain healthy and clean, the ACC has developed and continuously updates a set of management plans based on environmental science principles and practices. Keeping lands and forests healthy and clean cannot be done by the Conservation Commission alone, it takes interested citizens to do their part. There are a lot of ways individuals and their families can help keep lands clean and healthy or can conserve lands!
Below are just a few examples:
• Build a Pollinator Garden: From bees to bats and butterflies to beetles, pollinators play a pivotal role in our ecosystem. Bees are among our most important pollinators, with bee populations providing nearly one-third of our food supply and allowing wild plants to produce the foods that form the base of the natural food web. Providing the fundamental elements of wildlife habitat — food, water, cover, and places to raise young — is critical to restoring monarch butterfly habitat. By incorporating specific garden elements like native milkweed and other native wildflowers (for feeding), gardeners can create habitat in their backyards. These gardens help preserve open space in our town.
• Fight water pollution: Even with town and state regulations, there can be problems from industry or heavy rain run-off. If you see pollution going into the Town’s rivers or streams, or overflowing the sewers, say something to Town officials. Often times, we are not aware that our own behavior can contribute to water pollution. Indirect sources which threaten the water supply come from construction site erosion, faulty septic systems, leaking automotive fluids, agricultural and residential fertilizers and pesticides, road salt and other diffuse sources. Dispose of
these materials in an environmentally safe way. A clean water supply helps all of us in Town assure that we have water, should there be a drought.
• Save water at home: avoid flushing toilets unnecessarily, check for leaks, do not let water run when brushing teeth, shaving, or washing dishes, take shorter showers, mulch your garden, use a drip irrigation system, do not water in the heat of day, mow lawn at a higher-level setting, and/or use a canteen instead of purchasing a throw-a-way plastic bottle with water.
• Learn more about Amherst Warrant Article # 22: Open Space Acquisition Bond. This article, to be voted upon by the town on June 8, 2021, would authorize the Town to appropriate up to $6M to purchase land and easements for conservation purposes to protect and limit the kinds of future use. This warrant article has the support of the Board of Selectmen and the Town’s Ways and Means Committee.
For more information about gardens for pollinators, water or land conservation check out the links below:
Read about the issues and the process used for gifts of land to the Conservation Commission. Useful books to read on this subject are available at the Amherst Library and can be purchased at the web sites linked below:
Preserving Family Lands - Essential Tax Strategies for the Landowner
by Stephen J. Small, Landowner Planning Center, Boston, Mass.
Conservation Options - A Landowner’s Guide Land Trust Alliance, Washington, DC
Conserving Our Town Lands
Using Science to Conserve Biodiversity, Manage Open Space and Promote Outdoor Recreation
Contact Us: Amherst Conservation Commission
2 Main Street, Town Hall. Amherst NH 03031