James Kibler

I’ve always been drawn to the forest. Some of my best memories growing up involve hikes in the Blue Ridge mountains or games in the woodlot behind my friend’s house. But I never took the time to learn about the woods, not really.

I moved to New Hampshire 7 years ago. Just a few months in (I was actually a little late and had to talk Haley into making an exception for my application) I learned about the NH Coverts Project. The experience was one of the most unreservedly positive of my life.

I soaked up knowledge over the long weekend. I learned about trees, animals, ecosystems and history.  I learned that ‘no management’ is very often not the best forest management policy.  I learned what a Conservation Commission is. I learned a new way to pronounce ‘covert’. And I learned that there are other people who love forests in ways similar to the way I do.

Frog on a lilypad

The impact of the program stayed with me. I joined my town’s Conservation Commission. I led invasive species talks. I talked to neighbors about responsible forest management. I fought for years to convince the town to conserve a piece of forestland, and finally won—not without a ton of help--resulting in Clay Brook Forest.


Also, I never stopped learning. I learned how to photograph wildlife. I learned where to set up a trail cam to capture baby bobcats in the spring and otter slides in the winter. I learned how to track, to identify scat. I learned, amazingly to me but probably second nature to some, to identify nearly all of the species of trees on Clay Brook immediately on sight, any season of the year. Walking through a New England forest with that knowledge takes the experience to another level.

I have so much gratitude towards the Coverts program. It was a true turning point in my life. I’m regretfully leaving New Hampshire, but the Coverts program enriched my time here immeasurably. Thank you.

James Kibler
Coverts Cooperator, 2016

Author with forestry friends

(L to R) Rockingham County Forester Greg Fordan, Coverts Cooperator James Kibler, and fellow Paul Melanson Cooperator and Hampton Falls Conservation Commissioner Paul Melanson  in front of the Rockingham County Champion Swamp White Oak ‘Big Tree.’