Sullivan County Farm, Sullivan County, New Hampshire

About Sullivan County Farm

This county-owned property is in west-central New Hampshire, in the foothills east of the Connecticut River. Over the next decade, about 60 of the tract’s 673 acres will become a habitat management unit benefiting woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.

The Sullivan County Farm includes active crop and hay fields, old fields growing up in weeds and shrubs, and forest stands of differing ages. The predominant forest type is northern hardwood: beech, birches, red and sugar maple, and red oak, and also white pine.

Access to the site is excellent. (The property also houses a complex of county-owned buildings, including offices, a nursing home, and a detention center.)

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Land managers have improved the habitat for woodcock and other young-forest wildlife on three contiguous areas, designated A, B, and C, near the farm’s western boundary.

Map of Sullivan County Farm Woodcock Habitat Demonstration Area

Map of Sullivan County Farm Woodcock Habitat Demonstration Area.

Area A is a 1.5-acre field. Workers brush-hogged and mowed this area to expand it and turn it into a woodcock singing ground. In the future, the field will be mowed as needed to keep it functioning as springtime displaying and breeding habitat for timberdoodles.

Area B, due south of Area A, has damp soil. Many apple trees grow on this 1-acre unit. Workers have begun cutting away hardwood trees that are casting shade on the apples and on native shrubs including silky dogwood and viburnums. Released from the shade, the apples will respond by growing more vigorously. Woodcock often probe for worms in the rich soil beneath apple trees. Many other wild animals, including ruffed grouse, songbirds, deer, and foxes feed on the fruit in autumn. South of Area B lie additional shrubby areas that are also used by woodcock.

In Area C, bordering areas A and B on the east, a machine with a brontosaurus cutting head chewed down woody vegetation on 5 acres in early 2008, creating an environment where aspens have begun growing in densely. Workers also cut down larger trees and girdled standing white pines. Girdling killed the pines, eliminating the shade they were casting. The killed pines will offer feeding sites for woodpeckers. And because they will rot and fall down gradually, their woody trunks and major branches will not need to be removed from the unit.

On Area C, technicians are working to suppress invasive shrubs, including buckthorn and multiflora rose. After the brontosaurus opened up the site, workers sprayed a foliar herbicide on the invasives, knocking them back so that more-desirable native shrubs, such as dogwood and viburnums, can better revegetate the area.

WMI biologist John Lanier inspects regenerating hardwood sprouts on Area C

WMI biologist John Lanier inspects regenerating hardwood sprouts on Area C.

In the future, commercial logging is planned for approximately 50 acres of woodland extending south from areas A and B and wrapping around the active farm fields on the south and east. After logging, these areas will come back as young forest, including dense stands of aspen, providing woodcock feeding and brood-rearing habitat.

Woodcock currently find roosting cover on the margins of hay and crop fields and in approximately 12 acres of old fields on the property.

Funding and Partners

Sullivan County, Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension 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 Sullivan County Farm complex is on County Farm Road in Unity, N.H. Take Chestnut Street south from Claremont, N.H., for about 5 miles. For more specific directions, or to arrange a tour, contact Sullivan County forester Chuck Hersey, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Service, 24 Main Street, Newport, NH 03773, telephone 603-863-9200, email