Conservation Photo Project: Fighting Sprawl by Protecting Open Space: On Monday, I spent the day photographing a property in Durham, New Hampshire, called the Sprucewood Forest for The Trust for Public Land. TPL is working with the town of Durham to permanently conserve this mix of fields, woodlands, and Oyster River frontage that totals 176 acres and abuts several other conserved properties including the University of New Hampshire’s College Woods and the Spruce Hole Bog, a National Natural Landmark.
This area of Durham has a beautiful mix of agricultural land, forests, and wetlands, but is located in one of the fastest growing parts of the state, making opportunities to protect places like Sprucewood Forest all the more important. I had a great spring day to shoot, with comfortable temps, only a few bugs, and some nice fog over the field at sunrise.
While the total acres involved in this project is relatively small compared to some of the projects I work on in northern NH, VT, and ME, this property still has some important ecological values, especially considering that it provides a link between other conservation land. The stretch of the Oyster River that runs through the northern edge of the property is one of the few places in the state where Atlantic Brook Lamprey spawn.
The wetlands and field edges also harbor New England Cottontail, an increasingly rare species – only 170 or so currently live in New Hampshire and about 300 live in Maine, with other small scattered populations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It takes 35 contiguous acres of shrubland habitat to support a viable population of cottontails, and this property has the potential to be managed for a healthy group of NE cottontails. (I shot a short video about New England Cottontails last year, which you can see here: http://vimeo.com/24790034.)
If you know of other places like the Sprucewood Forest that need protection and a photographer to document them, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!