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

Global Warming in NH, Well Yes!

Global warming has been debated for decades. It seems like an endless debate even more than: Whatís the best technique for catching a wild trout? Or; the best grouse gun in heavy cover isÖ. 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 this fine state?

Thatís 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.

There are all kinds of information available about the threat of global warming and I just recently received a great package of material from the National Wildlife Federation at a conference I attended about saving significant wildlife habitat in the northeast ( From threats to polar bears, to drying of the ďprairie potholesĒ over the next 50 years reducing waterfowl numbers by 50 percent, the forecast is bleak.

Iím really more interested in my own back yard right here in New Hampshire. The National Wildlife Federation had some predictions for here too. Such as the EPA says the sea level in Portsmouth will rise about 7 inches per century (right after I thought: Yahoo striper fishing coming my way!) I began to think how I was down to the coast this winter during a high tide and storm event. That day the sea was already lapping at the edges of US Route 1 in Hampton. So this sea level change could affect New Hampshire. Imagine only being able to drive along the coastal roads at low tide? That will happen if global warming continues.

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 them. And lucky for me some four decades later, as a wildlife biologist for the Fish and Game Department, I can still check them, except I canít any more. Within the last decade the ice conditions have deteriorated so much that it is no longer safe to check them. Twenty year ago I regularly drove my three-wheeler around on the ice to service them. Then for much of the last decade I hiked around, although I would regularly fall through spots here and there. But the last two years I have not checked them as it is just not safe to do so. Global warming HAS affected me and my job.

And I think about the other changes I have witnessed in the last few decades. Iím pretty sure my memory is not failing me when I remember getting my first pair of snowshoe for Christmas in Londonderry and needing them every winter through the 1960s. I hardly ever need them now and my house is 30 miles north of Londonderry. I have seen the snow line creep north in this state the last decades. When I was young the snow/rain line was in Massachusetts for many winter storms. Then it was the border area between the two states. Now it has crept north to Manchester for many of the winter storms. This past winter it jumped north to the Winnipesaukee area. For many storms this last winter it snowed above Laconia but we got rain down here. So my very own experience tells me that global warming is real and seems to be happening at an ever faster pace. How many times in the last five years has the winter Winni Derby been put on hold due to poor ice conditions? Things are just adding up for me. Donít they to you?

We can all make a difference in slowing global warming. Itís pretty simple, use less energy. Within the last three years I have pretty much converted all my light bulbs to the compact fluorescent bulbs. I have more than doubled the amount of insulation in my attic and insulated my cellar ceiling as well as the duct work from my hot air furnace. During this time the cost of the fuel I burn doubled, but I use half as much now. My garage and outside lights are all controlled by motion censors. Lights come on only when needed, and then go off a short time later. I have a set-back thermometer on my furnace and have lowered the settings. I have helped a local conservation group I belong to, Te Friends of the Suncook River, recycle aluminum cans. In 2005 we recycled over a ton of cans making over $1,000 for the organization, which is almost its entire annual budget needs.

We can all make a difference reducing our energy needs. For me it is a no-brainer. Especially for me is the fact that I have leaned numerous times that I canít walk on water: For too many reasons for me to explain. Can you?

(Authors Note: Not a month after I wrote this article I-95 in Hampton WAS flooded during high tides for two day in mid May during the great flood. One or both lanes were close on May 13th and 14th during high tides)

Eric Orff
Epsom, NH

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