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Claremont to Review Inventory of Resources

Claremont — With the identification and protection of natural resources taking on a more integral role in economic development, many communities consider having an inventory of those resources as critical.

Late next month, the city will receive a natural resources inventory that has been compiled by a Chesterfield, N.H., firm hired by the city’s Conservation Commission.

Moose Ecological, of Chesterfield, N.H., began its work in July and the firm’s principal ecologist and owner, Jeffry Littleton, said they expect to submit the report before the end of January.

“It is something the city can use for land use planning,” Littleton said this week in a phone interview.

To complete the inventory, Littleton said they used existing data, conducted aerial mapping and field work. The report’s main areas look at wetlands, wildlife and their habitat and agriculture and forestry.

“The data is specific to Claremont because we got out on the ground and did the aerial mapping,” Littleton said.

More than 140 wetlands sites were identified and then ranked as high, medium or low based on criteria including economic function and value, flood control, habitat and human activity.

“It is much more accurate (than what was on hand,)” said Littleton. “It helps us better understand the habitats in town.”

The wildlife section examined “focal species” such as black bear, moose and otter, their habitats and assessed the long-term viability of those habitats.

Littleton said a large tract off Cathole Road in the northeast part of the city as well land around Arrowhead, were identified as prime habitat for wildlife.

Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said the city had a lot of information on its natural resources but it wasn’t comprehensive enough to meet the requirements set forth in the city’s master plan.

“We didn’t have an inventory that could support the objectives for natural resource protection and a basis for land use permitting,” Merrill said. “We had pieces of information but this will take it all and put it together.” Littleton said understanding the ecological value of undeveloped land will be a useful guide for the city.

Another section examines agriculture and forestry, with an analysis of soil types and what they are best suited for.

“We looked at it from a working landscape perspective,” Littleton said. “Where is the best place to grow food and the best soils to grow hardwoods and soft woods.”

The aggregate of the information will help the city identify area best suited for development,” Littleton said.

It can also help the city decide on whether it is worth selling some of the city-owned parcels in rural areas of town, added Merrill.

Moosewood’s work will include mapping of all the natural resources identified.

Merrill said the inventory will serve as a guide for the Conservation Commission with respect to development and obtaining conservation easements and the like to protect the most valuable natural resources.

It will give them (Conservation Commission) a framework for development; where it is appropriate to occur.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.