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Hike, presentation to explore changes in state's landscape

HOLLIS - A lot has changed over the more than 350 years since European settlers first staked their claim on New Hampshire soil, and this Sunday, teachers from the Beaver Brook Association will lead a presentation and group hike to highlight how the state's landscape and wildlife have been affected by human development.

New Hampshire's Wild History is one of six Speaking for Wildlife programs orchestrated by Cooperative Extension. Volunteers are trained to take participants on a virtual journey through the state's past, focusing on changes in the land and how wildlife populations have responded over time.

Celeste Barr, education director at Beaver Brook, said the event is part of natural resource stewardship initiative through the Cooperative Extension.

"It talks about the history of wildlife pretty much from European settlement until now," Barr said, "from slightly before the forests were cut, and what was living here, and how that has changed with the different changes in land use."

The story leads viewers through New Hampshire's farm and sheep boom, all the way through the Industrial Revolution, Barr added, when the forests started growing back in.

Sunday's event begins with a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation by Beth Baryiames, an educator at Beaver Brook, and Jennifer Starr, an Extension volunteer.

Baryiames said the presentation reviews how climate change has affected both the land and the uses of the land over the centuries.

An array of animal mounts will be featured, including a coyote, a bobcat and a Canada goose, followed by a question-and-answer segment.

Then comes the hike. Participants are not required to wear snowshoes, but are encouraged to wear sturdy boots and crampons, if possible.

"We'll look for some tracks, some animal scat, some porcupine habitats perhaps, or evidence of deer foraging in the woods," Baryiames said. "Sometimes we get lucky and we disturb an owl. I saw a grouse this morning when I was walking in the woods. ... It's a beautiful time."

Barr explained some of the things hikers find on the First Sunday Guided Hikes at Beaver Brook, which take place every month.

"Sometimes you'll find the evidence of a meal by an animal by their nipping buds off of trees or shucking pinecones and getting the seeds out, or places where they've dug up the snow - you can find these eating places" she said.

Because of the snow and the contrast it provides, Barr said these traces are easier to spot during winter.

The presentation starts at 2 p.m. in the Spear Room at Maple Hill Farm at 117 Ridge Road in Hollis. The hour-long hike ends at 4 p.m.

Founded in 1964 with just 12 acres, the nonprofit Beaver Brook Association oversees 2,100 acres of woodland in Hollis, Brookline and Milford,

For more information visit beaverbrook.org or call 465-7787.

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Simon Rios may be reached at srios@newstote.com.

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