Natural Resources, Open Space, Preservation & Restoration
Open spaces provide habitat for various plants and animals. A basic-level Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) for the City of Keene was completed in 2009, and this work should be continued into an expanded and comprehensive inventory with the goal of integrating this information into the decision-making and prioritization processes. The NRI should inform the creation of a conservation and open space plan, identifying natural resources and open spaces. This work should be coordinated with the City of Keene Parks and Recreation Department.
The City of Keene currently has a number of easements placed on land for conservation purposes. As the community moves towards its vision for the future, it will be important to include these already existing resources into the open-space plan as well to continue to protect important natural resource values within the community. In addition, the Land Use Change Tax program should be preserved to assist the community is achieving its open space goals.
The open space plan should determine targets for conserved lands, recreational resources as well as farmland and forested areas. Those lands that are important to the maintenance of the community’s ecological, economic and social health should be included in the plan and used to guide the creation of an open-space program. The elements of the open-space plan should align with the State Wildlife Action Plan. In addition, any future resource-specific NRIs should ensure consistency with the goals and principles of this master plan.
Restoration of important conservation values and functions is important to the community, especially as it relates to wetlands and surface waters and to the flood mitigation these resources provide. Conservation areas around important wetland and surface-water areas allow the natural system space to work, such as when wetlands are flooded after heavy rains, or when a stream naturally shifts its location slightly over time. Review and revision of land-use regulations to include more stringent standards for wetlands and surface waters should be pursued. Possible changes to development standards that limit the impact on a site should also be part of any regulatory review, since this can allow for natural systems to function correctly or restore a previously affected area.
There are a number of partner organizations throughout the region that often work with the City of Keene and the Keene Conservation Commission on conservation efforts. These include but not limited to:
- The Monadnock Conservancy
- The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
- Ashuelot Valley Environmental Observatory (AVEO)
- Friends of Open Space – Keene
- UNH Co-operative Extension
- Antioch University
- Keene State College – Environmental Science Program