The va lue of large connected are as is critical to pr ovi ding sustainable and vi abl e h abi tat for
man y s pec ies of animals, p art icu lar ly the l arg e t op- of-the-f ood -ch ain pr eda tors. The hea lth of
the se top pr eda tors indica tes th e l ikelihood t hat mo st other species sha rin g t he same habitat w ill
als o b e h eal thy , in check, an d i n b alance. The grea ter th e connectivity be twe en lar ge blocks of
pro tec ted ha bit at, t he gre ate r t he numbers and sp eci es of animals and pl ant s t hat can thrive
the re.
Fur the r, with cli mat e w arming, spe cie s w ill need to ad apt by sh ifting thei r r ang es in order to
con tin ue to sur vive, and t he con nec tiv ity of prot ect ed lan dsc ape s will b e i ncr eas ing ly importan t
to ass uri ng ade qua te room in whi ch to move.
Why is th is impor tan t? Al l of us, hu man an d n on- human alike, d epe nd upo n h eal thy ecosystems
for ou r o wn survival . It is in ou r o wn bes t interests to ma intain the int egr ity of habitat s t hat
pro mot e t he healthy sur viv al of ani mals and pl ant s. Such habitats pr ovi de num erous benefits to
hum ans : c lea n w ater, cl ean ai r, visual beauty, op por tun ities for r ecr eat ion and spirit ual
res tor ati on, enhancement t o t he val ues of our own pr ope rties and, inc rea sin gly in this er a o f
cli mat e w arming, the e cos yst em service of ca rbo n sequestration.
A m ap of conserved lands i n Ta mwo rth
(le ft) was create d f rom various data
sou rce s b y C hris Conrod an d s how s
con dit ion s a s of January 2013. Sev era l
sig nif ica ntly large, co nti guo us blocks of
pro tec ted land are apparent: ar oun d
Cho cor ua Lak e, along Mill Bro ok,
aro und Gr eat Hill Po nd, ar oun d White
Lak e, in the Ossipee Range, a nd alo ng
the Be arc amp River i n t he are a of
Jac kma n P ond . (Since the map wa s
mad e, som e additional p arc els ha ve
bee n p rot ect ed. )
Som e o f t his already-pr ote cte d
lan dsc ape co nst itutes a part of the
Whi tes to the Ossipe es Wil dlife
Con nec tiv ity Area. This i nit iative w as
dev elo ped so me yea rs ago by the
Tamw ort h Conservation C omm iss ion.
It gui des conservation eff ort s t o protect
con tig uou s s wat hs of land in the ar ea
Issue #4 W O N A L A N C E T I R R E G U L A R November 2015
(c o nti nue d fr o m f ro n t p age )
bet wee n t he White Mo unt ain s a nd the Ossipee
Ran ge in ord er to facil ita te the movement o f
mul tip le species wit hin th e area of connect ivi ty.
Our ef forts in an d a rou nd Won alancet wil l h elp to
con nec t a nd tie together t he San dwi ch Range and
the ve ry large area of con ser ved la nd around
Gre at Hill Pond. This i s a n import ant li nka ge,
dov eta ili ng with oth er eff orts being mad e t o t he
sou th tha t will s erv e t o i ncrease the overa ll
con nec tiv ity for numero us spe cie s o f both plants
and an ima ls.
David Wh ite
C u r i o s i t y C o r n e r
In 1967 Harvard researcher Stanley Milbank began his "small world experiments" which suggested that
the path connecting any two Americans passed through an average of five other people (hence the meme
"six degrees of separation".)
Milbank's findings have been widely discussed, discounted and reaffirmed over the years, but until now
the Wonalancet experience has never been published. We started thinking about this recently when
Congressman Paul Ryan became Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Speaker Ryan is
lucky enough to be the cousin of our own Tom Ryan. Wonalancet folks who know Tom are not six degrees
separated from the Speaker, but only two.
Tom modestly says he isn't terribly close to his cousin – he was just leaving his home town of Janesville,
Wisconsin when Speaker Paul was born there. But Tom has younger siblings who were closer to Paul
growing up, and several attended his swearing-in ceremony in Washington last month. Anyway, we'd say
while the rest of the country has all those degrees of separation, Wonalancet has a virtual pipeline to the
Halls of Power. What is the speaker like? Tom says he's a nice guy, personally, and bright and quick.
What about his politics? Tom diplomatically says, "a lot of his positions aren't where I wish they were."
The tightness of the Wonalancet-Washington web at one single point might just be a fluke. But consider
that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's grandson, John Boettiger, who lived in the White House for part of
the War, was a resident of Wonalancet for a number of years, and a president himself . . . of our beloved
Out Door Club. So: two degrees. Count 'em, just two.
WPA Board Member Helen Steele's father was a friend of Sherman Adams, who in addition to being
Congressman and Governor, was Dwight Eisenhower's Chief of Staff. Helen remembers Governor Adams
as a formidable figure who came to Wonalancet to visit her dad. She particularly recalls one dinner when
the guest list somehow expanded well beyond the food supply. Her dad saved the day by slicing the
chicken so thin that everyone got a piece, a sort of loaves and fishes miracle. If you were at the chicken
dinner, that's two degrees to Ike. If you weren't, but you know Helen: three.
President Eisenhower's brother Milton was also a president: President of Johns Hopkins University.
Milton came to Wonalancet to visit his friend, Charlie Barker, a Hopkins history professor and long-time
summer resident here. Three degrees. Twice as good as average.
We suspect there are a lot more stat shredders like these out there. Please let us know. We'll tally 'em for
O p e n L a n d i n W o n a l a n c e t
Wonalancet is dear to our hearts for many reasons. When people come here, the feature of the
place likely to strike them first is the wide open spaces. We can actually see the mountains and
hills that encircle us. A hundred and fifty years ago these enormous openings and sweeping views
were the rule rather than the exception. But in most parts of our region the forests have crept back
across the old-timers' hard-won fields, leaving the viewscape dark and, by contrast, making
Wonalancet stand out as a bright beacon.
Wildlife diversity benefits greatly from open land,
as field-dwelling species typically can't live in the
forest, and yet other species flourish at field/forest
So just keeping the land open is a worthy cause.
But the WPA Board feels that some owners of open
land in Wonalancet may not be getting the full
benefit available from their fields. When and how
the fields are mowed, and other management
procedures, have large effects on what the field will
produce. By choosing a specific management plan,
or by choosing not to choose, each landowner
determines to a large extent exactly what will
happen on the land.
It is unlikely – and probably not desirable from a biodiversity or human economy viewpoint – that
all landowners will pursue the same goal for their open land. Some may just want to protect the
view with the least effort and cost. Others may favor wildflowers, pollinators, berries, nesting birds
or usable hay.
For years only the hay-growers have studied and practiced optimal management for their goals.
But recently more open land is being groomed for other purposes. Vinton Thompson, a professional
entomologist whose specialty is spittlebugs (aka Cercopidae), has made several interesting scientific
discoveries based on spittlebugs he collected in Wonalancet over the years. So it is no surprise that
he has recently begun managing his Wonalancet lands as a kind of spittlebug-friendly wildlife
sanctuary. This past spring and summer Doug McVicar enjoyed photographing pollinators that, he
noted, arrived in waves timed exactly to the blooming of their favorite wildflowers. So he is eagerly
optimizing his fields for wildflowers and pollinators. Others are working toward more blueberries,
milkweed for Monarchs, or organic vegetable production.
Using Google Maps Earth (satellite) view, we have
estimated that more than half the open land in
Wonalancet intervale is currently used for
agricultural production. Roughly a third is non-
agricultural, held and cared for by a large, diverse
group of landowners. The WPA Board would like to
encourage everyone to embrace the potential of
their open spaces, and consider more focused
management. Meanwhile we are working, with
others who share this interest, to bring together the
most helpful how-to information on open land
management and make it available to all our field-
stewarding neighbors.
– Doug McVicar
Ho verf ly app roa ching hemp nett le
Moth (Hemaris t hysbe) landi ng on vet ch
“By most accounts, 2015 has been a banner year for New England apples, and not just for its commercial orchards . . . I
refer mostly to the countless, unnamed, untamed backyard and wild trees that teemed with apples this fall. We have heard
numerous reports about trees that had borne little or no fruit until now, and this year exploded with so much fruit it bent or
broke branches . . . . THERE ARE SEVERAL THEORIES about why the 2015 apple season has been so good. New
England was spared some of the annual weather events that typically shrink the crop. There was plenty of sunshine
throughout the pollination period in early May, meaning that honeybees and other pollinators had no difficulty in getting
to the trees to fertilize the blossoms . . . ”
Apple Crisp, Apple Butter, Apple Cobbler, Apple Sauce, Apple Pie . . .
. . . Baked Apples, Dried Apples, Fried Apples, Caramel Apples, just plain Apples
2015 was a special year for apples.
These Wolf River apples grew in
Wonalancet on an ancient, sprawling,
seldom-tended tree. Wolf River apple
trees grow true from seed, and the
apples are notably large. This
specimen weighed nearly one pound,
and measured 14” around. Humans
carted off 110 pounds (about 2 ½
bushels) of apples from this old tree.
Bears took a bushel or two more.
– Russell Powell on the New England Apple Association website