A Watershed Moment for Bear Pond Natural Area

July 31st, 2003 by Adam

Professor Len Reitsma of Plymouth State College will present preliminary findings of a study of the Bear Pond Natural Area at the Eighth Public Lecture, sponsored by the Canaan Conservation Commission, on August 21 at the Meeting House on Canaan Street in Canaan, N.H.

The Mascoma Watershed Conservation Council, a non-profit conservation organization, has granted $20,000 to a team of scientists for a collaborative biological inventory of the Bear Pond Natural Area over the next three years. The team includes Reitsma, Dr. Rick Van de Poll of Ecosystems Management Consultants, Kent McFarland and Dan Lambert of the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences, Dr. Pamela Hunt of the New Hampshire Audubon Society and David Carroll, expert on regional reptiles and author of A Swampwalker’s Journal.

“The Bear Pond Natural Area has a variety of ecologically important features,” Reitsma says, “such as a 60-acre quaking bog with state-listed endangered orchid species, a rocky outcrop with excellent bobcat habitat and nesting ravens, and over 1,000 feet of shoreline along the Mascoma River and Little Goose Pond.”

The inventory will focus on fish, amphibians, turtles, birds, butterflies and dragonflies, mammals and plants. The team will be conducting censuses and plot-based inventories over a three year period, with different plants and animals being surveyed at appropriate times of year. The project is already underway—this summer the team has documented rare plants, birds and insects such as the elfin skimmer (a dragonfly), Arethusa bulbosa (a bog orchid) and the mourning warbler (a migratory wood warbler), as well as nesting northern goshawks.

The 923-acre natural preserve in Canaan, N.H., is situated south of the Mascoma State Forest and north of the Canaan Town Forest. These three areas, combined with a private parcel of land in conservation easement comprise nearly 1,500 acres of conserved land, Reitsma explains. “This is all situated within a principal groundwater recharging area for the Mascoma River and thereby significantly contributes to flood abatement and sustained pure water for the town of Lebanon, which relies on the Mascoma River as its main reservoir.”

The Bear Pond Natural Area was preserved through funding from the New Hampshire Land Conservation and Heritage Investment Program, the Sweetwater Trust, and other public and private donors.

For more information on the project, contact Dr. Len Reitsma at (603) 535-2558 or leonr@mail.plymouth.edu.

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