University of New Hampshire Woodlands and Natural Areas, Strafford County, New Hampshire

About UNH Woodlands

The University of New Hampshire is in Durham, in southeastern New Hampshire. A mile south of the campus, in an area laced with suburban development, lies a complex of almost 700 acres of woodlands and natural areas that the university manages as working forest for timber production and wildlife habitat and to advance the institution’s educational and research missions. Nearby, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission manages another 132 acres for wildlife, and an additional 115 acres of private land are under a conservation easement.

The UNH Woodlands include former farmland that grew up into forest, in the watersheds of the Lamprey and Oyster rivers. Around 100 acres are wetlands, 70 acres are openings (agricultural fields, old fields, meadows, and powerline right-of-ways), and 15 acres are currently in a young-forest stage.

Projects already underway, and ones proposed for the next three to five years, will create and maintain openings in woodlands; increase the acreage of young forest; and suppress invasive shrubs in favor of native vegetation. These efforts help woodcock, New England cottontails, blue-winged warblers, ruffed grouse, raptors, small mammals, and other wildlife that needs dense, regrowing habitat.

(For additional information and maps, see this Block Management Overview.)

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Habitat has been improved or created on four management units.

MacDonald Lot

UNH habitat work

Managers are making patch cuts in forested areas to create pockets of young forest, diversifying the habitat to help woodcock and other wildlife.

In winter 2009-10, three one-acre patch cuts removed low-quality white pine that had sprung up on former farmland. Managers will let the clearcuts regrow naturally to become young forest; in 20 to 25 years, new clearcuts will be made next to the first ones. Nearby stands of alder shrubs will be regenerated through mechanical mowing or chainsaw labor. Within 1,000 feet of the clearcuts, a 2-acre woodland opening will be created and maintained as a meadow for use by singing and displaying male woodcock. Other management activities include regenerating a 1-acre aspen stand every five to ten years, and periodically mowing off a small old-field area to keep it from becoming forest.

East Foss Farm

Over the next five to ten years, managers will mow swaths through a 5- to 10-acre young woodland, following the moisture gradient near a long linear wetland. To the west of these cuts, a 10-acre plot will be kept in an old-field state. These and other efforts will create a linked network of roosting, nesting, and feeding cover for woodcock.

West Foss Farm

This tract lies west of and adjacent to East Foss Farm. Here, a 7-acre clearcut, created in 2006, provides habitat for brush-loving New England cottontails as well as prime woodcock nesting and roosting cover. Managers will mow old fields to maintain them as grassy and shrubby openings. Woodcock sing and display nearby in a wet meadow, and find feeding and nesting habitat in thick edge areas.

Thompson Farm

A large hayfield kept open through annual mowing provides singing and displaying habitat. Managers will create patchy, shrubby nesting and roosting habitats near this large opening. Nearby alder wetlands supply feeding cover. Management activities include recovering a 3-acre old-field area; maintaining 4 acres of old field as grassy/shrubby openings; creating more than 3 acres of small woodland openings as part of a “shifting mosaic” or “expanding gap” strategy; and making patch cuts in aspen stands. After logging took place during winter 2007-08, managers noted an immediate increase in the number of singing male woodcock.

Funding and Partners

University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Fish and Game, New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Stonyfield Farm, 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

To visit and to learn more about young-forest habitat efforts on UNH Woodlands and Natural Areas, contact Steve Eisenhaure, Land Use Coordinator, Kingman Farm Lab Building, 333 Knox Marsh Rd., Madbury NH 03823, phone 603-534-7979, email