New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Global Warming Article: Why Iím Working On Global Warming
Global warming has been debated for decades. It seems like an endless debate even more than: What’s the best technique for catching a wild trout? Or; the best grouse gun in heavy cover is…. In the mean time, do you realize that if the current warming trend continues, no matter the cause, wild brook trout and grouse may very well be gone from New Hampshire during the life span of children already born in the Granite State?
That’s not just a wild guess, but under the recently completed Wildlife Action Plans scientists across this country have considered global warming to be a major threat to many species. Basically much of the recovery of wildlife that has taken place in the last century, thanks to fees from hunters, fishermen and trappers that have funded wildlife agencies, could be lost in THIS century. The NH Wildlife Action Plan goes on to state “New Hampshire average wintertime air temperatures increased by 3.5 degrees F from 1895 to 1999.”
Then I began to think about other seasonal changes I have seen over the last 40 plus years that I have lived in this state. And my own observations, right here in New Hampshire, really seem to be telling me that this global warming thing is real.
For example, in the early to mid 1960s, when my parents moved from Maine to New Hampshire, I was fortunate enough that our house was within an easy hike through some woods and fields to the Fish and Game Departments Little Cohas Marsh. This is a 250 acre marsh created by a dam build by Fish and Game in the 1950s and was a perfect playground for an aspiring wildlife biologist. Each winter I spent lots of time on the ice looking for tracks, checking out the beaver lodges and the wood duck nesting boxes the Department had placed there. In fact when I joined the Londonderry Fish and Game Club as a junior member in 1964 I convinced them to purchase more lumber and I built more duck boxes and added them to the marsh. Each winter I dutifully checked the ones I had built. And lucky for me some four decades later, as a wildlife biologist for the Fish and Game Department, I was still checking duck boxes in the winter on Little Cohas Marsh. Twenty year ago I regularly drove my three-wheeler or snow machine around on the ice to service them. Then for much of the last decade I had to hike around, although I would regularly fall through spots here and there. But by the winters of 2006 and 2007 there was no safe ice all winter long so I could not check them. Global warming HAD affected me and my job.
And it was not just Little Cohas Marsh where I have witnessed these changes, but on New Hampshire’s coast as well. In 1988 I was assigned to cover the southeastern section of the state as a regional wildlife biologist from the Region 3 office in Durham. Part of my new duties included conducting the mid winter waterfowl aerial survey. This survey had been conducted since 1952 covering the entire Atlantic coast from Canada south. It is conducted beginning the first week of January. We would take a small aircraft from Concord and beeline it for Great Bay to circle any open water counting ducks and geese before swooping out over our coast and on out to the Isle of Shoals. As I recall most of the first years Great Bay was usually mostly iced over with villages of ice houses grouped in the smelt fishing hot spots around the Bay. Over time the ice cover gradually seemed to diminish from year to year and by the last two times I conducted the survey in January of 2006 and 2007 there was simply no ice on Great Bay by mid winter. In fact in early January of 2007 on our way east towards Great Bay I saw that several of our freshwater lakes had large sections of open water. This was a first for me in nearly two decades of observations.
I retired from the Fish and Game Department in June of 2007 and was asked by the National Wildlife Federation in October if I would be willing to work part time on educating New Hampshire sportsmen about the threat of global warming on New Hampshire fish and wildlife. I readily agreed as I had spent the better part of my life helping to restore populations of fish and wildlife to this state unimaginable 50 years ago. I simply could not stand by as a life time investment by me could be threatened if global warming continues at its current pace. ( Great web sites for more information are targetglobalwarming.org and seasonsend.org.)
Global Warming Article: Changing climate puts New Hampshire fish and wildlife at risk.
Zeroing it out! Shivering chickadees.