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Table of Contents >>  4.1 Water Quality << 4.2 Wetlands >> 4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas



Wetlands are ecologically important and should receive special consideration to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and aesthetic values.

Wetlands protect water quality, help control floods, recharge groundwater, and provide recreational and scenic opportunities. Wetlands are among the most critical parts of any forest ecosystem. Forested wetlands can include economically important trees as well as rare plants and natural communities. Forty-seven rare plants grow in forested wetlands in New Hampshire, including 31 listed as endangered. Riparian areas and wetlands are used by more than 90 percent of the region’s wildlife species and are the preferred habitat for more than 40 percent of them.

Wetlands are identified by hydrological features, soils, and vegetation. Wetland hydrological indicators include the presence of water at or near the soil surface, swollen tree trunks, drift lines, and water or silt-stained leaves or plant stems. All wetlands have saturated soil for at least part of the growing season, and all support vegetation adapted to wet conditions.

Wetlands may be forested (such as red maple or cedar swamps) or nonforested (such as marshes, wet meadows, scrub-shrub wetlands, peatlands or beaver-created meadows). They can have open water. Shrub wetlands are dominated by shrubs and saplings and may be in a transitional state between an open wetland and a forested one, or they may remain shrubby. They include small or ephemeral areas such as seeps and vernal pools (7.2 Seeps and 7.3 Vernal Pools). Riparian areas are associated with wetlands and surface waters (4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas). Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire includes a basic guide to wetland identification.

Wetlands and the adjacent uplands have a long history of use and alteration by humans. Combined pressures, along with their ecological significance, underscore the importance of properly managing those that aren't yet heavily impacted and restoring those that are currently degraded. Wetlands protection begins with careful road and skid-trail layout to minimize wetland and surface-water crossings. The timing and silvicultural methods used in wetlands and adjacent uplands also are key.


Maintain the important functions and values of wetlands.




2.2 Forest Structure; 2.3 Regeneration Methods; 3.5 Soil Productivity; 4.1 Water Quality; 4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas; 4.4 Stream Crossings and Habitat; 5.2 Invasive Plants; 6.8 Beaver-Created Openings; 6.9 Deer Wintering Areas; 6.10 Woodland Raptor Nest Sites; 6.11 Bald Eagle Winter Roosts; 6.12 Heron Colonies; 6.13 Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need; 7.1 Natural Communities and Protected Plants; 7.3 Vernal Pools; 7.2 Seeps.


Chase, V., L. Deming, and F. Latawiec. 1995. Buffers for Wetlands and Surface Waters: A Guidebook for New Hampshire Municipalities. Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Concord, N.H. 80 p.

Elliott, C.A. 1988. A Forester's Guide to Managing Wildlife Habitats in Maine. University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Orono, Maine.

N.H. Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands. 2004. Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire. State of New Hampshire. http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000247_Rep266.pdf Accessed March 13, 2010.

RSA 227-J. Timber Harvesting. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xix-a/227-j/227-j-mrg.htm Accessed May 27, 2010.

RSA 482-A. Fill and Dredge in Wetlands. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/l/482-a/482-a-mrg.htm Accessed May 27, 2010.

Smith, S. (ed). 2005. Best Management Practices for Forestry: Protecting New Hampshire’s Water Quality. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham N.H. http://extension.unh.edu/resources/representation/Resource000248_Rep267.pdf Accessed February 8, 2010.

Smith, S. 2009. Guide to New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Laws. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H. 37 p.

4.1 Water Quality << 4.2 Wetlands >> 4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas

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