Hanover Water Works, Grafton County, New Hampshire

About Hanover Water Works

This 1,400-acre tract in the Connecticut River Valley of central New Hampshire includes the water supply for the town of Hanover and Dartmouth College. In the early 1900s, the land was mainly farmland; today, it surrounds two reservoirs. Some of the landscape is forested with planted conifers, while other areas have grown up in northern hardwoods. The forest, as well as winding streams and associated wetlands, provide habitat for woodcock and other wildlife including white-tailed deer, moose, bear, wild turkeys, and many migratory and resident bird species.

Since 1978, O’Brien Forestry Services of Orford, N.H., has supervised a series of commercial logging operations on different forest stands throughout the property.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

In addition to the ongoing logging that creates young-forest habitat crucial to woodcock and other wildlife, two specific projects have helped improve the Water Works for timberdoodles.

In April 2007, a strong storm knocked down thousands of trees on the property. Near the center of the tract, on forest stands 15, 16, and 17, managers conducted a salvage operation on mature white pines and red pines that the storm had toppled. In spring 2009, a bulldozer dug out and buried the stumps. Workers limed and fertilized the 7-acre opening, then seeded it with grass and clover.

Photo of woodcock roosting field

Land managers put in this 7-acre woodcock roosting field in 2009.

Woodcock will use this cleared area for singing and courtship in spring. Resident timberdoodles will fly to the field in late summer and roost there during nighttime hours. The field will be mowed to keep it functioning as singing and roosting habitat. Nearby young-forest areas provide nesting, brood-rearing, and feeding cover.

On the southern edge of the Water Works, technicians created a 3-acre opening on stand 5 next to an old field. After a tracked machine with a brontosaurus cutting head removed trees and stumps, workers tilled and seeded the ground. In the future, the site will be mowed to keep it functioning as a springtime singing ground and courtship area. Good nesting, brood-rearing, and feeding habitats surround the opening, including wetlands growing up with young aspen, gray birch, willow, and other trees and shrubs, as well as more-mature coniferous and hardwood forest at a slightly higher elevation, where woodcock feed on earthworms and other invertebrates by probing in the rich soil.

Funding and Partners

Hanover Water Works Company, Dartmouth College, O’Brien Forestry Services, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

The Water Works is gated and surrounded by a fence. To arrange a tour, contact John O’Brien, O’Brien Forestry Services, 26 Tree Farm Rd., Orford NH 03777, 603-353-9857, obriefor@sover.net.