Photos of the 2017 CC Mixer by Virginia Long.

MMRG’s 5th annual ‘CC Mixer’ attracted more than thirty regional Conservation Commissioners, MMRG Directors and members, and interested  residents to spend an October evening sharing ideas and learning how towns and conservation partners can make use of our new Conservation Action Plan. The event is planned each year to facilitate networking, information-sharing and joint conservation planning among our seven service towns: Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro.

After refreshments and networking, the program began with a round table of Conservation Commissioners speaking about their recent town conservation initiatives, successes and challenges. Dick Peckham of Brookfield reported a large addition of conservation acreage this year in the form of 2 new easements on private properties and a new town preserve of 250 acres, where a kiosk and parking area are planned, to encourage trail use. Dan Coons said Wolfeboro is focusing on making better use of town conservation land and Ron Gehl added that New Durham is already making use of MMRG’s new Conservation Action Plan. Dave Mankus reported on difficulties experienced by the Wakefield CC in their efforts to accomplish conservation projects. Steve Panish of Milton described legal challenges and expenses in stewarding the town-owned easements.

Guest speaker and facilitator Steve Whitman, of Resilience Planning and Design, followed with an overview of the new resources that are part of the Conservation Action Plan, ‘Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow,’ and available for towns to use in their own planning. He presented numerous maps showing the regional distributions of different natural assets, such as large forest blocks, forest soils, riparian corridors, flood plains, steep slopes and erodible soils, landscape diversity and connectivity, and climate change resilience as well as several summary maps integrating that information, including a ‘co-occurrence’ map showing where high value resources overlap, a map of MMRG conservation focus areas, and another of potential greenways- undeveloped corridors for recreation or wildlife. Whitman also encouraged towns to access MMRG’s GIS data, which can be overlaid on town maps, providing an invaluable planning tool.

After Whitman’s presentation, break-out groups were asked to consider how they might use the new Conservation Action Plan. “Tonight is about local priorities and facilitating partnerships,” said Whitman. The several small groups immediately got to work, studying the maps laid out on tables, brainstorming ideas, and taking the opportunity to ply each other with questions. As the small groups reported back to the full assemblage, they revealed a wide range of discussion topics but with a common theme that the new maps would be an important resource. Middleton resident Joann Coskie mentioned that the town is focusing on younger conservationists, seeking to attract younger people to serve on the CC.  MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns pointed out that Middleton Schools have initiated a new well-attended, after-school Nature Club for elementary school children. Victor Piekarski of New Durham added, “It’s great to see a regional plan, because towns are isolated, geographically and socio-economically. It’s good to connect towns.”

On the way out, Carl and Judy Crosley, newcomers to this annual event, thanked the other members of their small group.  Judy, a new UNH covert, said she had learned a lot, as did Carl. He was particularly pleased to hear how his non-profit, the Wentworth Watershed Association, might collaborate with their town Conservation Commission. Judy also remarked that the maps are a wonderful resource. Click here to view or download our new Conservation Action Plan and five summary maps.