New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

A Winter in NH Like No Other in My Long Life.

Thursday 02/15/2024

In my seventy-four years of life, most right here in New Hampshire, I have not witnessed a winter like this. To tell you the truth it is making me feel really uneasy. A knot in the stomach uneasy. You see seventeen years ago shortly after I retired from a three decade plus long career as a wildlife biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, I was recruited by the National Wildlife Federation, you know the Ranger Rick folks, very trustworthy, to work as a consultant for them on climate change issues. Well, they were calling it Global Warming in 2007. You see I had been a long-time writer and my own observations and writing had me wondering why winters were going away. Hence, I appeared to be a good fit for them. They flew me down to DC late September 2007 for a couple days of training. I was sent home with a slide presentation to give to New Hampshire sportswomen/men about Global Warming. One slide hit me that in the way, way, way future, if we did not curb our carbon appetite, New Hampshire's winters could be more like Virginia's.

Is this our First Virginia Winter? I'm beginning to think so. And that thought sends a chill down my back. This is Not that long, long way off we all had been thinking of. And doesn't this winter smack you in the face realizing that. At least it should include the doubters among us too.

Yes, I am a scientist as I have been a wildlife biologist in New Hampshire for over a half century now and a nature observer before that. And here's what I am witnessing this winter.

I have lived in Epsom overlooking the Suncook River less than a hundred yards away. When I first moved here in 1979 and for more than a decade after, the river along this stretch served as a winter snowmobile trail. By the end of the 1990's the ice no longer supported that activity. Into the 2000's the ice formed later and went sooner seemingly year by year. Last winter the river never really froze over completely, but there was some ice. This winter the Suncook River has remained nearly iceless all winter. And let's not forget the same has happened to the Merrimack River in Concord as well. Does anyone else remember a winter that the Merrimack didn't have ice in Concord? I can't.

And just this past weekend over the 10th and 11th of February I attended the annual Meredith Rotary winter ice fishing derby in Meredith. I think this was year number forty-five. I was aghast as there was not a single bobhouse, let alone ice fisherman, on Meredith Bay on Sunday. In fact, this winter, I think for the first time, much of Lake Winnipesaukee has remained open water. How can this be so soon and not some distant nightmare forecast to be occurring "sometime in the future". Wow, we drug our feet way too long on this one.  

And what's with these politicians saying "If elected I'd get us out of the Paris Accord first thing." I think it's time to take them ice fishing. Yes, send them first. Maybe a cold dunking in a New Hampshire Lake will give them a reality check they certainly need. Count me in on sending them out.

Yes Virginia, this is looking like our first Viginia Winter in New Hampshire.

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