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Outstanding in the Field

Eisenhaure measures a white pine at Woodman Farm.

Steve Eisenhaure ’93(WSBE) ‘04(TSAS) ‘06G(COLSA) crunches over dried leaves as he picks his way toward a marked white pine in the forested area of Woodman Farm, and begins to take measurements of its height and stem diameter. He’s the Land Use Coordinator in the Woodlands and Natural Areas Office within the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture(COLSA) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and has responsibility for the sustainable management of the 3800 acres of University woodlands. The marked pine will be cut for the students in his forest mensuration class who will use it to practice the hands-on application of math-intensive measurements they’ve been learning in the classroom.

With almost half of its acreage located in Durham, nearly half in Carroll County, and the rest in several other properties scattered across the state, the collective areas of the woodlands qualified for designation as a Tree Farm in 1960.  Each year, the New Hampshire Tree Farm Committee recognizes an outstanding tree farm owned by towns, schools, or other organizations for its role as a working forest that serves to educate the public on sustainable forestry. This year, the UNH Woodlands Program was honored with the Outstanding Community Tree Farm award for exemplifying a well-managed resource for education, research, habitat, recreation, and forest product.  Eisenhaure and COLSA Dean Jon Wraith accepted the award at the NH Tree Farm field day held this year in Lyme, NH.

“The New Hampshire Tree Farm Committee is truly pleased to be able to recognize UNH Woodlands for their work” says Andy Fast, Chair of the Committee. “The stewardship on UNH Woodlands’ property is a great example for other community forests and a wonderful resource for the public. We hope this award can bring some attention to Steve’s efforts. I am sure we will continue to see great things come out of the UNH Woodlands and Natural Areas Office in the future.”

Every year there are on average 5000 educational visits to the woodlands, public outreach activities, and research in a number of areas including the growth and health of white pine trees, climate impacts on forest ecosystems, and regional air quality monitoring. Eisenhaure updates the management plans for all the woodland properties, and has established more than 600 permanent plots to produce a system of documented areas that have been, and will be, sampled every ten years.

Students in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) from both the four-year and two-year forestry degree programs use the lands extensively, as do many other courses within and outside the college. “Don Quigley’s class at the Thompson School is currently putting in a forestry demonstration area at Woodman Farm,” says Eisenhaure. “There’s a big difference between a naturally developed woodland and one that’s been tended: The students have been pruning here, so the quality of the wood is better.”

In addition, Eisenhaure and his team are in the process of clearing areas along the railroad tracks that run through College Woods and Foss Farm in order to provide better habitat for the New England Cottontail, an animal of concern awaiting Federal listing as a threatened or endangered species. “The railroad tracks are a natural movement corridor for them,” says Eisenhaure. “We’re managing a suite of different, young, thick growth to increase the population of this unique animal.” In the process, Eisenhaure works with faculty members to control invasive plant species, like Glossy buckthorn, from growing up in the open space.

Walking over a mended cow path at the Organic Dairy Research Farm.

Eisenhaure is diligent about maintaining a sustainable timber-harvesting schedule, and routinely takes inventory of how much is harvested in relationship to the woodland’s total acreage. When he was recently approached regarding the possibility of using sustainably harvested wood as part of a closed-loop system that would to produce bedding for the large animals housed at three of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station’s (NHAES) research and teaching facilities , he knew it would be possible.  The project began last spring with the harvesting of sixty cords of white pine from the Burley-Demeritt and Bartlett-Dudley woodlots. The wood, currently stacked for drying on the farm, will be processed into a year’s supply of shavings by a new bedding machine purchased by the NHAES. The harvest impacted approximately one acre of land on the woodlot. “It’s been a good seed year and a fairly big opening like this should soon have white pine coming back on its own,” says Eisenhaure. “This is a great place to bring classes out  in the field to see the stages of regeneration first hand.” And it’s another fine example of UNH’s commitment to sustainability in so many of its essential operations.

- Victoria Forester Courtland