Dan Sundquist of Greenfire GIS speaking at MMRG’s annual CC Mixer.

A couple dozen Conservation Commissioners, other municipal officers, representatives of conservation organizations, and engaged citizens attended Moose Mountains Regional Greenways’ 4th annual ‘CC Mixer’ at the Wakefield Opera House in late 2016. The topic of the day, ‘Planning Development with Conservation in Mind’, was addressed by guest speaker Dan Sundquist of GreenFire GIS and was clearly of interest to participants as they shared their recent town accomplishments and challenges in a round table format.

Dan has years of experience in regional conservation planning and is project lead for MMRG’s ongoing Conservation Planning project, ‘Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow’. By way of introduction to the topic, Dan said he would discuss ‘how good community planning can be reverse engineered to create a strategic conservation plan’, with examples from the Newfound Lake watershed, and in particular the town of Groton, population 592. He described a process that engages stakeholders to create a set of priorities for conservation in order to map conservation focus areas and development suitability areas. MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns pointed out that MMRG’s strategic conservation planning process will produce similar focus area maps, which will be made available to MMRG’s seven service towns to use in their own planning.

The round table session gave town officials and Conservation Commission (CC) members the opportunity to hear and learn from neighboring towns. Many town successes were reported, the most notable being several recent town acquisitions of conservation land or parcels conserved by other agencies through outright purchase or conservation easement. Ongoing projects included establishing new trail systems or parking areas for access to public lands and trails. There was also discussion of how to attract new people willing to serve on town Conservation Commissions and how to best communicate the work of the CC and raise awareness of the need for conserving our natural resources. Milton CC Chair Cynthia Wyatt pointed out that CC’s should ‘give themselves credit for keeping New Hampshire clean and beautiful and preserving its rural character’ and that their conservation accomplishments also make huge economic impact, such as in maintaining water quality, the forest products industry, and opportunities for tourism.

MMRG is grateful to the business sponsors of this event: Ilex Wetlands Consultants and Jodi Hughes-Emerson, Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway Spencer-Hughes Real Estate of Wolfeboro.