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NH action plan maps and GIS date now available

From the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

-- New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan maps, which depict the location of habitat types and ecological condition of habitats for the state, have been revised, and new maps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data are now available for towns, groups and individuals that use them for research and planning.

The updates to the Wildlife Action Plan maps and underlying GIS data incorporate newer biological data into the analysis of ecological conditions. The most significant changes to the maps are that forests are analyzed in smaller sections, making for more detailed and accurate information; and three more years of rare wildlife, plant and natural community data have been incorporated.

The development and distribution of the maps, first released in 2006, is a priority of the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan which serves as a blueprint for wildlife and habitat conservation in the state.

Emily Brunkhurst, a biologist with N.H. Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, encourages people to go ahead and start using the new maps and data, which are available through the NH GRANIT system, developed by UNH’s Complex Systems Research Center  at http://www.granit.unh.edu. For non-GIS users, the data will be integrated into the GRANIT data mapper, a free online mapping program, in April.

In the Wildlife Action Plan maps and data, habitats have been analyzed and ranked using ecological, biological, landscape and human impact factors. The habitat maps depict 16 types of wildlife habitat in New Hampshire. These include Appalachian oak pine forest in the south, high elevation spruce forests in the northern mountains, grasslands, marshes, cliffs, coastal islands, alpine habitat and everything in between.

Towns have been using the Wildlife Action Plan maps in their planning, incorporating them into natural resource inventories, conservation plans and master plans that help to identify and conserve important natural resources including water, soils and wildlife. Land trusts and nonprofit groups are using the Wildlife Action Plan maps as tools to evaluate potential conservation parcels and target important places to protect.

Since the original release of the Wildlife Action Plan,  the state has utilized state-of-the-art habitat data in a series of important strategic conservation planning efforts,  according to Dan Sundquist of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The new 2010 release represents sophisticated science, and a way to work with improved data to help guide future land conservation projects.

NH Fish and Game and UNH Cooperative Extension will offer workshops in the next few months to discuss the updates and how the maps can be used in conservation planning. See the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildnh.com for details.

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