The Second College Grant is a vital resource for Dartmouth in three commonly understood ways:
- Its logging operations generate annual revenues which support the operating budget.
- Its many resources provide opportunities for student and faculty research.
- These resources also constitute a wonderful area for pursuit of remote outdoor recreational activities.
Less well-recognized is the potential the Grant, and through it the College, has to demonstrate sustainable forestry operations which inform the current debate about the future of the Northern Forest. Dartmouth’s aspiration for its operations in the Grant is that they be planned and executed in accordance with the highest standards of forestry practice. The College cooperates with several organizations to learn from and educate others in the region about the economy and desirability of adhering to such standards.
Four primary parties are involved in management of the Grant. First, planning and management of forestry operations are vested with the Director of Woodland Operations, Kevin Evans. Second, development and coordination of recreational activity are vested with the Director of Outdoor Programs. Both of these College officers work with faculty and students on activities of an academic or co-curricular nature. Third, professional review of the planning and execution of logging operations is obtained through certification of the sustainability of these practices by an independent agency (currently employing the standards of the Green Tag Forestry program).
Finally, while overall supervision of activities in the Grant is vested with the College’s Vice President & Treasurer, the Second College Grant Management Committee (the "Management Committee") serves in an important advisory capacity to this office and the two program directors. The Committee’s primary role is to set policy, review plans and assess accomplishment of goals and objectives. While it may from time to time be advised by others, the Committee's regular members are the incumbents of the following College positions (or their delegates) or representatives selected by the Committee:
- Vice President & Treasurer of the College, Chair
- Dean of the College
- College Counsel
- Director of Real Estate
- Director of Outdoor Programs
- Director of Woodland Operations
- Faculty Representative
- Alumni Representative
The Management Committee meets four times a year, generally after the end of each calendar quarter. All but the early spring meeting are held at the Grant. In addition to long-range planning work, typical meetings involve: updates on current activities from the Director of Woodland Operations and the Director of Outdoor Programs; discussion of forestry practice certification reports; review of budgets, contracts and other operational data; and visitor presentations and site visits within the Grant. Special meetings may also be held, generally in Hanover.
A primary function of the Management Committee is to advise in the development and maintenance of a Grant Master Plan, prepared jointly by the Director of Woodland Operations and the Director of Outdoor Programs. Among other things, the plan will contain a history of the Grant, summaries of the latest inventories of Grant resources (derived from detailed underlying databases), goals and objectives for Grant activities, standards of operation for these activities, and three to five year operating plans for conducting logging operations and enhancing recreational opportunities.
While the Grant is first and foremost a private resource of Dartmouth College, the Management Committee considers ways to make the activities carried on there relevant to the surrounding region and reviews conditions under which individuals and organizations outside of the Dartmouth family may be permitted to enter, learn in and enjoy this very special place.
Wildlife Habitat Management Project
The Wildlife Habitat Management Project was developed in the mid 1990s with the help of wildlife biologists and other resource professionals in order to decide on the best wildlife management approaches to use in the Grant. The project encompasses four primary goals: (1) habitat and population inventories, (2) development of habitat manipulation strategies, (3) monitoring wildlife populations, and (4) reserach, education, and dissemination.
During the summer and fall of 1997 we were hard at work advancing the project from the planning stage to on-the-ground activities. We are currently in the process of accomplishing our first goal to inventory the forest ecosystem and establish baseline forestry and wildlife population data. From this, we will gain a sense of the land in terms of wildlife habitat, as well as the wildlife populations present (or absent) based on habitat availability and life history traits. Once we understand such habitat and population trends, we can develop effective forest and wildlife management strategies to properly accomplish our goals.
In order to establish this baseline population inventory, ten transect lines were laid out through a variety of habitats on the Grant. Each transect line consists of fifteen permanent plots, 200 meters apart, using Global Positioning System (GPS) to reference the plots. Ecological data was recorded at each plot — including stand information (land use class, slope and aspect, water class, terrain position, forest type, stand size and history), understory/regeneration information (number of seedlings and saplings, shrub layer), and tree level data (live and dead tree data, dead and downed woody debris). This baseline data will be useful in analyzing the many habitats on the Grant and the relationships between the different wildlife populations which use them.
Once habitat and population inventories are complete, we will move into the second goal of the Wildelife Habitat Management Project, the development of habitat manipulation stategies. It is within these strategies that wildlife will be incorporated with essential forest, water, and soils issues, and into the overall management plan for the property. In order to achieve a cross-section encompassing all indigenous wildlife species of the Grant, the existing forest condition needs to be examined and a desired condition established. To then achieve such a desired condition, management operations are carried out in commercial and non-commercial areas. This help to achieve the necessary broad distribution of species composition and age classes within the forest, essential for the maintenance of a diversity of wildlife habitats. While the Grant has historically used mostly commercial timber harvests as tools for enhancing wildlife habitat, we also recognize the need for additional, non-commercial work to compliment the effort. The Blueberry Management Area off the Swift Diamond Road is a good example. This area has been cleared specifically to rejuvenate blueberries as a wildlife food and to maintain this unique environment within the Grant.
The third goal of the project, the monitoring of wildlife populations, will be an ongoing process to begin at the completion of the initial inventory. By monitoring these populations we can see how certain activities affect these populations, remain flexible in the implementation of management strategies, and better anticipate similar results. The permanent plot transecs will be used to serve a variety of monitoring purposes. By gathering forest stand information, we will be able to monitor changes in the overall stand structure including regeneration and growth rates. The transect lines will also be used for surveys of breeding birds in the spring, and in the winter as track transects. This will enable us to see what’s happening with specific animal activities, especially among species of concern.
The fourth goal of the project includes research, education, and dissemination. Due to the great number of people who visit and have interests in the activities of the Grant, one of its most important values is its potential as an educational resource. In order to achieve this goal, four ongoing components include specialized research which will give Dartmouth students hands-on experience collecting data, educating others about the successes of the project, and informing the community that the Grant is available to them. With this initiative, we have the potential of becoming a wildlife management model for other landowners to follow.