Natural Resources Inventory Town of Kensington, New Hampshire

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Charles Howard Hodges
Charles Howard Hodges

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Natural Resources Inventory
Town of Kensington, New Hampshire
March, 2014
Town of Kensington, New Hampshire
Natural Resources Inventory
Table of Contents
Overview of Kensington’s Natural Resources by Resident George Gavutis ........... 1
Purpose of the Natural Resources Inventory.......................................................... 4
Description of Land Use in the Town of Kensington .............................................. 5
Natural Resource Features
Topography ............................................................................................................. 6
Soils ......................................................................................................................... 7
Fresh Water Resources ........................................................................................... 9
A. Watersheds ......................................................................................................... 9
B. Surface Water Resources – Rivers, Streams, Ponds, Vernal Pools, Wetlands ... 9
C. Groundwater Resources ................................................................................... 15
D. Potential Threats to Water Resources ............................................................. 18
Agricultural and Farmland Resources ................................................................... 19
Forest Resources ................................................................................................... 22
Natural Communities and Habitat ........................................................................ 23
A. Plant Communities ........................................................................................... 25
B. Beneficial Insects .............................................................................................. 26
C. Wildlife Habitat ................................................................................................. 28
D. Wildlife Species................................................................................................. 33
E. Invasive Species................................................................................................. 37
Conservation Land ................................................................................................ 41
VIII. Current Use Assessment. ...................................................................................... 44
Trails and Recreation on Town Owned Land ........................................................ 45
Regional and Statewide Natural Resource Inventories ........................................ 45
Climate Change and Adaptation Planning ............................................................ 48
Conclusion ............................................................................................................. 51
Tables :
Table 1 – Kensington Population
Table 2 – Kensington Land Use 2010
Table 3 – Waterbodies in the Town of Kensington
Table 4 – Riparian Buffer Requirements
Table 5 – Agricultural Resources in Kensington
Table 6 – Rare Plant and Rare Animal Species in Kensington
Table 7 – Beneficial Insects
Table 8 – Wildlife Habitat Type and Acres
Table 9 – Bird Species Observed in Kensington
Table 10 – Mammal Species Observed in Kensington
Table 11 – Amphibians and Reptile Species Observed in Kensington
Table 12 – Freshwater Fish Species Present in Kensington
Table 13 – Prohibited Plant Species in New Hampshire
Table 14 – Prohibited Insect Species in New Hampshire
Table 15 – Conservation Land in Kensington
Table 16 – NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan Habitat Types and Acreage
Map 1 – 2010 Land Use
Map 2 – National Wetlands Inventory (NWI)
Map 3 – Water Resources
Map 4 – Aquifers and Groundwater
Map 5 – Farmland Soils
Map 6 – New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan
Map 7 – Unfragmented Blocks
Map 8 – 2012 Conservation Lands
Map 9 – Natural Heritage Bureau Data
Map 10 – 2010 Aerial Photo
Map 11 – USGS Topography
Map 12 – 2001 Land Cover
Map 13 – Local Knowledge
Prepared by the Kensington Conservation Commission, with assistance from the Rockingham
Planning Commission
March, 2014
Overview of Kensington’s Natural Resources by resident naturalist and
wildlife biologist George Gavutis
PRE-COLONIAL TIMES - The area we now know as Kensington was endowed with an abundant
diversity of natural resources. Magnificent forests and plentiful, clear streams and other
important wetland types, fed by high quality, shallow, glacially deposited, gravel aquifers that
supported a great variety of valuable species of flora and fauna.
In pre-colonial times, Kensington looked a lot different than it has since. We can assume that,
except for the primary wetlands and immediately adjacent uplands, it was entirely forested,
and dominated by a typical mix of mostly mature, and huge, American chestnuts, oaks, white
pines and hemlocks.
Due to the presence of abundant beaver colonies and their numerous dams, the wettest
ground adjacent to the small stream and brook channels would most likely have been
dominated by submerged aquatic plants like pondweeds; and emergent plants including cattails
and water lilies. The shallower, peripheral areas, that were only seasonally-flooded, would have
graded into rushes and sedges. The adjacent uplands, within 100 yards or so of the upland
edge, would have contained channels dug into the lower ground by the beavers and leading to
their skid trails extending hundreds of feet into the woods. The vegetation in the peripheral
upland zone would have been dominated by a wide variety of shrubs and small trees and their
sucker-sprouts. Most common species would have included alders, willows, dogwoods, aspens,
blueberries, viburnums, and birches, with sedges and grasses and flowering plants pioneering
the most frequently disturbed areas, in the vicinity of the beaver skid trails. The forested
wetlands component would have been considerably reduced in size compared with today, due
to the much higher water table maintained by the beavers in most years. The forested
wetlands, would have been dominated by dense stands of Atlantic white cedar, along with a
scattering of hemlock, red maple and black gum trees.
The thriving beaver colonies, with their ponds surrounded by a broad band of earlysuccessional habitat provided “critical edge” vegetative habitat for a tremendous diversity of
other wildlife species. It also provided an essential niche for a large number of specialized
plants and insects—many of which today have either been extirpated; are threatened or
endangered; or are in serious decline. Some of the more noteworthy species that were
undoubtedly common in and around beaver ponds and their periodically reverting meadows,
shrublands and forests, during the breeding season would have included waterfowl, such as
wood duck, black duck, green and blue-winged teal and hooded merganser; water birds, such
as pied-billed grebe, common moorhen, and probably American coot; marsh birds, such as
Virginia, sora and king rail; wading birds, such as great-blue, green-backed and black-crowned
night heron, and American and least bittern; songbirds, such as marsh, sedge and winter wren;
golden-winged warbler, American redstart, alder and willow flycatcher; game birds, such as
American woodcock, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and probably bobwhite quail; raptors, such as
red-shouldered hawk, northern harrier, osprey, bald eagle, kestrel, merlin, screech and sawwhet owl; mammals, such as muskrat, mink, weasel, otter, fisher, New England cottontail,
snowshoe hare, gray fox, bobcat, black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, elk, wolf and panther;
reptiles and amphibians, such as black racer, wood, Blanding’s and spotted turtle, blue spotted
and red backed salamanders; insects, including myriads of moths, butterflies, dragonflies,
beetles, etc.;
plants such as the small crested sedge, Loselle’s twablade orchid, bitter cress,
equisetum and the usual vast array of indigenous marsh, swamp and early-successional species.
If this list was expanded to include all the migratory bird species present in the wetlands during
the rest of the year, especially during the spring and fall, as well as all the other year-round
species of animals and plants, the list would be far more extensive. Then, of course, there
were the extensive, upland forests, where their cadre of wildlife and plants would easily expand
Kensington’s species lists to number in the thousands. There was probably also a substantial
list of species of all types, which have since either become locally extirpated or went totally
extinct that we may never even know about.
Although the beaver was probably the primary species responsible for early- successional
habitat manipulation and management in this area, Native Americans also had some impact on
habitat. This would have primarily been thru the creation of small forest openings, often near
water, for campsites and agriculture. Wildfires were also used by them to improve habitat and
drive selected prey species like deer & rabbits etc. They may also have used fire to clear large
blow down areas and dead timber caused by severe weather events and insect or disease
outbreaks to ease their movement from place to place.
COLONIAL TIMES THRU THE 1800’s - With European colonization, everything changed.
Wetlands were drained to produce “foul meadow” hay, grazing for domestic animals, and,
eventually, in attempts to control mosquitoes. They were also filled to increase building sites
and dumps when the accepted phrase was “wetlands are wastelands”. Most of the forests were
cleared to accommodate intensive subsistence agriculture, including sheep farms, provide
building materials and sites for residential and commercial development, and for firewood, box
building, shipping materials and charcoal. Estimates of remaining forest habitat in this area
were less than 10%, mostly in small, scattered woodlots. Many species of wildlife were directly
extirpated for their furs or feathers, and for food for the increasing human population. The
beaver were extirpated for those same reasons and also for their interference with human
endeavors. Large predators were eliminated to alleviate human fear & competition for food.
Many other species were imperiled by the radical & rapid habitat changes/losses. Then, within
a couple centuries, most farms in this area were being abandoned as populations moved west
and habitat began to revert back to brush and saplings.
THE 1900’s TO THE PRESENT – Second growth forests began to re-grow, creating a temporary
boom in early-successional habitat. This era was short-lived though and in many cases
monotypical stands of very poor habitat and growth-form white pine (pasture/wolf pine)
quickly dominated. Because the beaver and most functional wetlands were still gone, those
pine stands quickly overwhelmed and usurped most of the zone that had historically been the
realm of the critical habitat needed to sustain both the beaver, and all the other species that
had evolved with it. At the same time, wetlands were continuing to be drained and filled and
replaced by unprecedented industrial, commercial and residential development.
In the process of mining gravel for road construction etc., streams supporting the cold-water
dependent, native brook trout were exposed to direct (warming) sunlight and siltation. Gravel
mining regulations were implemented to prevent siltation of adjacent streams and dredging
below the surface of the groundwater, exposing the groundwater aquifers to airborne
pollutants and other abuses. But there was a lack of enforcement, and by the 1980s, two
“lakes” had been formed on the east side of the town. Those man-made water bodies replaced
our largest natural water body, Muddy Pond, as the largest one(s) in town. The final insults
before the practice was finally curtailed were : (1) the removal of the gravel “island” pinnacle
that supported the granite monument that delineated the three corners where Kensington,
Seabrook and South Hampton met; (2) the abandonment in the water, of leaking and rusting
excavating equipment and materials; and (3)the drainage of a silt detention pond in the Dow’s
gravel pit area into the prime, gravel, brook trout, spawning habitat in Winkley Brook, which
ruined that section of the brook for at least the next decade.
By the mid 1900’s, however, human attitudes were beginning to change, and the real impacts
of what “civilization” was doing to the environment began to register. Decimated wildlife
populations were finally protected by the Federal and State governments. Most species were
classified as “non-game” and fully protected, permanently. “Game” and “furbearer” species
were allowed to recover before limited hunting & trapping seasons were established.
Nationally, public and private lands were set aside as National Wildlife Refuges and Sanctuaries,
Parks and Wildlife Management Areas. The important, intrinsic values of wetlands were finally
realized and laws were passed to curb their losses. Pesticide use became widely restricted and
regulated. Finally, wetland restoration was initiated.
Kensington and other towns established Conservation Commissions and began to accept gifts of
land and conservation easements from enlightened landowners who wanted to see that our
town preserved it’s rural character and provided the open space that wildlife required to thrive
and our citizens needed to maintain our quality of life.
All these things have helped lead us to where we are now. With the help of some judicious
transplants by State and Federal wildlife agencies, and natural re-occupation of suitable
habitats by species that managed to hold on in remote and secluded places, deer, moose,
snowshoe hair, beaver, otter, wild turkey, fisher, bobcat, hawks, eagles owls, and maybe
panther, along with many other species have made a strong amd amazing comeback with-in
just the last few decades. Since the wolf has not yet returned here, northern coyotes from
Canada have expanded into New England to fill that predatory niche. The coyotes have begun
increasing in numbers, in just a few decades, and also now form hunting packs, just like wolves
used to do.
Continued development in the region, coupled with habitat adaptation forced by climate
change, will result in more changes to Kensington’s natural resources. Conserving undeveloped
land and associated habitats will provide some measure of protection for the resources on
which wildlife and humans rely. It is the hope of the Kensington Conservation Commission that
this Natural Resources Inventory will provide information that will lead to action.
Purpose of the Natural Resources Inventory
The purpose of this Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) is to:
Map and describe significant natural resources in Kensington;
Identify areas of high ecological value at the local, regional, and state level;
Recommend options for the protection and management of natural resources in
Incorporate relevant reports and studies regarding natural resources in Kensington into
one document.
Like all communities, Kensington is faced with the challenge of finding a balance between
growth and economic development and the protection of the significant natural resources in
the community. The rural and historic character of Kensington in combination with streams,
brooks, ponds, forests, and farms provides a high quality of life for residents and an excellent
habitat for native plants and animals.
Many communities, including the residents of Kensington, have acknowledged the impacts
posed by growth and development and the need to conserve land for open space, food supply,
recreation, wildlife habitat, and the protection of surface and groundwater quality and
quantity. One example of this acknowledgement can be found in the 2011 Kensington Master
Plan, which includes the following vision statements that are the result of a community forum:
Protect Kensington’s water, forested land, farm and historical assets;
Enhance and promote agricultural activities in town as part of Kensington’s rural fabric;
Protect aquifers and drinking water sources in town from overuse and potential
Create and connect a multi-use pedestrian friendly trail system;
Conserve key parcels of land for recreation, wildlife habitat and agriculture;
Foster community-based agriculture (i.e. community farms, local farms);
Preserve rural community character defined by natural, historical, cultural and
architectural assets.
The Master Plan goes on to make several other statements regarding natural resource
protection, including:
“The Kensington Planning Board believes the central role of planning is to ensure the
long term value and sustainability of the environment that maintains choices for future
generations. There exists a need to direct future development in ways that conserve
land and open space, protect water resources and wildlife habitats.”
Given these statements of support for natural resource protection by Kensington residents, the
Conservation Commission has developed this Natural Resource Inventory to guide and support
natural resource protection in town.
Description of Land Use in the Town of Kensington
The Town of Kensington is located in Rockingham County and encompasses 12.0 square miles
or 7,668 acres of land area, of which 11.9 square miles is land and 0.1 square miles is inland
water area. Kensington is home to 16 named hills of glacial drumlin origin; the highest, Indian
Ground Hill, located on the town’s border with South Hampton, is 305 feet above sea level. The
majority of Kensington lies within the Piscataqua River watershed, via the Great Brook and
Exeter River. The southeast portion of town drains to Hampton Harbor via Taylor River and
Winkley Brook, which becomes the Hampton Falls River. The southwest corner of town drains
to the Merrimack River via tributaries to the Powwow River.
Land use in Kensington is primarily rural residential development spread throughout town
between forests and fields.
Approximately 7,600 acres of land, 98%, is zoned
residential/agricultural, currently requiring a minimum lot size of 2 acres for new development,
as well as meeting conditions based on soil conditions. Commercial activity takes place in small
pockets of town along Routes 108, 107 and 150. The formal Commercial/Industrial District is
located at the intersection of Routes 150 and 107 in the southeast section of town. The intent
of the district is to permit general commercial uses in areas on streets with high traffic volumes.
The district encompasses 151 acres, 2% of the land area. It is important to note that the C/I
District is positioned over an identified high yielding aquifer. Future consideration of this
aquifer and the type of commercial uses permitted should be carefully studied in order to
protect this valuable drinking water resource. Residents have expressed a desire, in the Master
Plan, to maintain the rural character of the town. Map 1 displays 2010 Land Use in Kensington.
The character of Kensington is perhaps best defined by the large amount of undeveloped land
throughout town. This is due to a number of factors, including wetland soils that restrict
development, large parcels of former farmland that are no longer actively farmed, and the
State’s Current Use tax program that reduces property tax on undeveloped land. A review of
property tax cards in 2011 revealed that approximately 126 properties were enrolled in Current
Use, totaling 4,065 acres, slightly more than one half of the town’s total acreage.
The US Census Bureau estimates the 2010 population to be 2,124. The population grew 12.2 %
between the 2000 and 2010 Census, almost doubling the average growth in Rockingham
County for that period of 6.4%
Table 1
Kensington, NH Population
Source: US Census Bureau
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Population 708 1,044 1,322 1,631 1,893 2,214
Table 2 illustrates land use in Kensington in 2010.
Table 2
Kensington Land Use 2010
Source: University of New Hampshire, Complex Systems Research Center
Land Use
Forest Land
Open Wetlands
Active Agricultural
Playing Fields/Recreation
Mixed Urban
Natural Resource Features
% of town
Topography in Kensington does not vary greatly, with the highest elevation of 305 feet found at
Indian Ground Hill on the southern edge of town. This type of topography is common in
southeastern New Hampshire, where the hills are low and their sides generally not steep and
the valleys are flat and often wetland. Like the rest of New England, Kensington was shaped by
the movement of glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. The motion of the glaciers moved large
amounts of rock and soil materials and smoothed the surface giving a more rounded
appearance to the surface. However, the glacier also left us with coarse, stony and often
infertile soils.
By combining knowledge of the physical environment with what is known of the distribution of
plants and animals, the U.S. Forest Service has divided New Hampshire into the following three
principal biophysical or ecological regions or sections:
Southern New England Coastal Plain and Hills Section (southeastern part of NH);
Vermont-New Hampshire Upland Section (southwestern part of NH);
White Mountain Section (Northern part of NH).
Kensington is located in the Southern New England Coastal Plain and Hills Section which can be
further divided into three subsections:
Gulf of Maine Coastal Lowland (immediate coastal region);
Gulf of Maine Coastal Plain (southern portion)
Sebago-Ossipee Hills and Plain (northern portion).
Kensington is in the Gulf of Maine Coastal Lowland, a subsection characterized by broad, hilly
plateaus and drumlins leading to the coastal zone. Map 11 highlights Kensington’s topography.
Understanding the nature and properties of soils is critical to managing and conserving our
natural resources. Through its Soil Survey Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) studies and inventories soil resources across the country. Soil scientists make this study
in order to determine what soils are present, where they are located and how they can be used.
Soil surveys contain information in the form of detailed soils maps, data tables and text
narratives that can be used in order to determine appropriate uses for the land. Soil surveys
also contain predictions of soil behavior for selected land uses and highlight limitations and
hazards inherent in the soil and the impact of selected land uses on the environment. The
latter is especially important in Kensington because all development relies on on-site wells and
septic disposal.
It is important to note that these soil survey maps are designed for general planning purposes
and are not at a scale appropriate for site specific use. A site specific soils map should be done
by a licensed professional soil scientist wherever there are concerns about the capability of the
land for development.
The most recently published edition of the Rockingham County Soil Survey was issued in 1994.
This information has been digitized into a GIS (geographic information systems) map by the
Rockingham Planning Commission at the end of this report.
Prime Farmland Soils – These soils are defined by the US Department of Agriculture as
having the best combinations of physical and chemical characteristics for producing
food, feed, forage, fiber and oilseed crops, and are also available for these uses. Prime
farmland produces the highest yields with minimal expenditure of energy and economic
resources, and farming it results in the least damage to the environment. According to
aerial photos analyzed by the University of New Hampshire Complex Systems Research
Center, there are 1,483.7 acres of prime farmland in Kensington, 19 % of the total
Soils of Statewide Importance – This is land, in addition to prime farmland that is of
statewide importance for the production of food, feed, fiber, forage, and oilseed crops.
Criteria for defining and delineating this land are determined by the NH Department of
Agriculture. Generally, these soils are nearly prime farmland that can economically
produce high yields of crops when treated and managed according to acceptable
farming methods. There are 1804.9 acres of soils of statewide importance in
Kensington, 23% of the total acreage.
Wetlands Soils - These soils include Very Poorly (Hydric A) and Poorly Drained (Hydric B)
soils. The areas are wet, since water moves through the soil so slowly that the water
table remains at or near the surface of the ground for the greater part of the year. The
reference to “very poorly” and “poorly” refers in part, but not exclusively to, the
amount of time water remains at or near the surface. Very poorly drained soils
generally occupy level or depressed sites, are frequently ponded, and commonly have
soils with a thick dark colored surface layer and gray subsoil. Poorly drained soils
occupy nearly-level to sloping sites, are ponded for short periods, have a dark colored
surface layer with grayish, mottled subsoil. There are 1,059.5 acres, 13.8%, of very
poorly drained soils (Hydric A), and 1,156.2 acres, 15.1% of poorly drained (Hydric B)
soils in Kensington. Wetlands are discussed in greater detail in the Water Resources
section of the NRI.
Sand and Gravel Deposits – There are two currently active sand or gravel pits in
Kensington, one on Osgood Road and the other on Route 150, Amesbury Road.
Recommendations for Protecting Soil Resources:
Soils determine how land should and should not be used. It is important that land use decisions
be based on accurate soils information.
Identify and map prime wetland soils to increase protection of highest functioning
wetlands in Kensington.
Research and implement mechanisms for greater protection of prime agricultural soils.
Assure code enforcement is in place to determine soil analysis and mapping are
accurate and setback distances are adhered to,
Fresh Water Resources
A watershed is the geographic area of land that drains surface waters to the lowest point, such
as a river, lake, bay or ocean. The network of rivers, streams, and other tributaries is
collectively known as the drainage system of a watershed.
Kensington lies within two main watersheds, the Piscataqua River/Coastal watershed which
drains the northern and eastern sections of town and the Merrimack River watershed which
drains the southeastern section of town. Kensington’s northern brooks (Great, Mill and York)
merge in the Great Meadows area, and join the Exeter River that flows to Great Bay. The
drainage from Yorkfield Farm, east of Drinkwater Road, flows north thru “The Cove” area in
Hampton Falls and ultimately also joins the Exeter River/Squamscott River, flowing into Great
Bay and out into the Atlantic Ocean. A little further south, the Taylor River headwaters area
east of Drinkwater and Wild Pasture Roads flows to the east, to the Hampton/Seabrook Harbor
estuary. The southeastern-most corner of town is drained by Winkley Brook and its tributaries
and it too flows to the Hampton/Seabrook Harbor estuary via the Hampton Falls River. Most of
the rest of the southern-most part of town drains south into the Powwow River which flows to
the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The western-most part of town drains to the
west into the headwaters of Great Brook in East Kingston, and ultimately back into Kensington
in the Great Meadows, and then into the Exeter River. Map 3 displays Kensington’s water
Surface Water Resources – Rivers, Streams, Ponds, Vernal Pools, Wetlands
Kensington’s fresh water resources consist of a hydrologically connected system of rivers,
streams, brooks, ponds, wetlands, vernal pools, and groundwater. The Town’s surface and
groundwaters are intricately interconnected. In some locations and under some conditions, the
surface waters recharge the groundwater and in other locations and conditions, the
groundwaters feed our rivers, ponds, wetlands and streams and keep surface waters flowing
even during droughts. The quality and quantity of one can significantly affect the other.
Buffers, land alongside rivers, streams and ponds, should be left in a naturally vegetated state
to protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Vegetation growing along the shore filter
pollutants from runoff, promoting groundwater infiltrations, and stabilizing stream banks to
control erosion.
It is important to note that the buffer should be wider if the adjacent land is sloped, the land
use is intensive, the soils are erodible, the land is a floodplain and/or if the stream or river
naturally meanders.
The quality of water and habitat in rivers and streams depends upon surrounding land uses and
management practices. Sediment from erosion destroys spawning habitat and fills stream
beds. Removal of trees and other streamside vegetation raises water temperatures and can
destroy habitat for trout and many other species upon which fish depend.
Water quality in both the Exeter River and the Powwow River has been monitored annually
since 2006 by volunteers in conjunction with the NH Department of Environmental Services
Volunteer River Assessment Program (VRAP). Annual reports with monitoring results may be
found at the DES website:
Table 3
Waterbodies in the Town of Kensington
Ponds, Rivers and Streams
York Pond
Sub-Watershed Description
York Brook to Great Brook to Exeter
Philbrick Pond also known as Moulton Brook to Hobbs Brook to
Hobbs Pond
Winkley Brook to Exeter River
Lewis Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Gamelin Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Muddy Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River to
Hampton River to Hampton Harbor
Gavutis Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Bailey Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Reflection Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Sawyer Pond
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River
Briggs Brook
Back River to Powwow River
Evans Brook
Taylor River
Groundwater Ponds
No surface flow
Dow Pond
Three Corners Pond
Young Ponds
Rivers and Streams
Exeter River
Exeter-Squamscott River
Great Brook
Mill Brook
Exeter-Squamscott River
York Brook
Exeter- Squamscott River
Hobbs Brook
Exeter-Squamscott River
Hodges Brook
Great Brook to Exeter-Squamscott River
Bodwell Brook
Great Brook to Exeter-Squamscott River
Winkley Brook
Hampton Falls River to Hampton River
to Hampton Harbor
Lewis Brook
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River to
Hampton River to Hampton Harbor
Gavutis Brook
Rice Brook
Sawyer Brook
Briggs Brook
Rosencrantz Brook
Hog Hill Brook
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River to
Hampton River to Hampton Harbor
Taylor River to Hampton Falls River to
Hampton River to Hampton Harbor
Winkley Brook to Hampton Falls River to
Hampton River to Hampton Harbor
Back River to Powwow River to
Merrimack River
Back River to Powwow River to
Merrimack River
Powwow River to Merrimack River
Vernal Pools - Vernal pools are common in Kensington and all property should be assessed for
the presence of vernal pools prior to and development or other land altering activity such as
agricultural drainage and forestry. Although they may vary in size from a few square feet in
area to several acres and may be located in a number of different sites – woods, floodplains or
gravel pits—they do have certain features in common. Although they appear in the same place
year after year, they are defined as temporary bodies of water because most dry up in hot
weather or times of drought. All of them are contained bodies of water, many without any
permanent outflow. Some vernal pools do have seasonal outflow and some have man-made
ditches partially draining and lowering water levels to reduce flooding. These pools are prime
candidates for wetland restoration.
Vernal pools do not support fish or predatory aquatic larvae such as dragonflies and aquatic
beetles making them excellent breeding grounds for species whose eggs would provide an
excellent food source were fish present. Some species are so dependent on vernal pools for
their survival that their very presence is taken to establish that a particular basin of water is
indeed a vernal pool. Not surprisingly, these are known as indicator species.
There are many dozens of vernal pools in Kensington, most with no discernable surface water
inlet or outlet. There are also many small, man-made, dug and dammed ponds that cannot
sustain fish populations that function as vernal pools. In addition, some seasonal brooks, spring
holes, and ponds created by beaver dams function as vernal pools. The many hundreds of
mature white pine, hemlock and red maple windthrows all over town with their huge, organic
root mats uprooted in the air have created small and functional vernal pool type basins. Many
are being used by egg laying amphibians.
An essential inhabitant of vernal pools is the fairy shrimp. These are tiny crustaceans that are
found throughout the country. They are the earliest creatures to be seen in the spring, often
appearing in March when their early mating leaves eggs on the floor of the pool. These are
designed to survive drying out, intense heat and freezing, and will hatch the following spring
when the pool is once again filled with water. Should there be a dry spell that prevents this
from occurring, the eggs are prepared to wait out the weather.
Some amphibians are also indicator species of vernal pools. Indicator species in New
Hampshire are the spotted salamander and the wood frog. Wood frogs are one of the earliest
creatures to be seen in the spring, often appearing in March, when their early mating makes it
possible for the eggs to develop before the pool dries up. The wood frog call sounds very much
like the quacking of ducks and is an early sign of spring. This frog is brown with a black mask,
and is often seen in the woods during the summer.
Spotted salamanders lay their eggs in vernal pools as well, and migrations of salamanders to
breeding areas usually take place after the first heavy rain in early spring. Although both the
spotted salamander and the wood frog may be found mating in more permanent waters, eggs
laid in vernal pools have the best chance of surviving.
Many other species use vernal pools although they do not have the same dependency upon
them. Among the amphibians, the species are four-toed salamander, Eastern newt, spring
peeper, American toad, the gray tree frog, and the green frog. Among the invertebrates, there
are clam shrimp, fingernail clams, and amphibious snails, caddis flies and other aquatic insects.
Although no reptile is among the indicator species, the spotted turtle, the earliest turtle to
appear in the spring, sometimes moving about in March, often uses such pools as a source of
food and a place for courtship and mating. Blanding’s turtles have been known to overwinter in
vernal pools. Both of these species are endangered in New Hampshire and their appearance is
of special interest to the Non-Game and Endangered Species Division of New Hampshire Fish &
Game. Information on reporting reptiles and amphibians observed in the wild may be found at
the following website:
Recommendations for Protecting Vernal Pools:
Identify and map vernal pools on subdivision plans and site plans in order to provide an
opportunity to mitigate the impacts to these sensitive areas.
Keep log landings, roads and trails out of vernal pools and the area adjacent to them.
Busy roads near a vernal pool can lead to massive annual mortality and local extinctions.
Maintain shade around a vernal pool in order to keep it from drying up too quickly and
to maintain water temperatures.
Keep slash out of a vernal pool during forestry operations and during development.
Maintain the upland (non-wetland) habitat where many vernal pool dependent species
spend most of their life cycle
Wetlands - Wetlands, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, the NH Department
of Environmental Services and the Kensington Zoning Ordinance are those areas that are
inundated or saturated by surface or groundwaters at a frequency and duration sufficient to
support and that under normal circumstances do support a prevalence of vegetation adapted
for life in saturated soil conditions. Thus a wetland is defined by the presence of all three “H’s”:
hydrophytes or wetland vegetation, hydrology and hydric soils.
Wetlands are an integral part of Kensington’s natural resources. They are important for
removing excess nutrients and sediment from the water, slowing and storing floodwaters,
promoting groundwater infiltration, and providing habitat for a variety of vegetation and
animal life. In addition, wetlands provide recreational, educational and research opportunities.
They add to the visual resources of the Town, especially in the fall when the red maples turn
scarlet. Wetlands are most often found along streams and adjacent to ponds and lakes. They
can be found in clustered complexes that are of great value. Vernal pools are a special type of
wetland that dry out completely in the summer and have no fish population.
There is a diversity of wetland types in Kensington, including areas of shallow water with
emergent vegetation such as cattails, forested wetlands, and scrub-shrub wetlands. The
principal types of wetlands with standing water in the spring have been mapped from aerial
photos by the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The NWI
wetlands do not include all wetlands, particularly those that do not typically have standing
water in the spring. Therefore, this is an underestimate of the amount of wetlands. The more
significant, wetlands, however, are included in the NWI.
The NWI classification codes for Kensington describe the dominant vegetation type as well as
the hydrology of each wetland. For the purposes of this map, these codes were categorized by
the dominant vegetation type. Map 2 displays NWI data.
Emergent wetlands/marshes are those wetlands with non-woody vegetation that
grows above the land and/or water surface. Great Meadows is one example of
emergent wetlands.
Forested – deciduous wetlands are wetlands with deciduous trees as the dominant
vegetation type. Red maple and swamp white oak swamps surrounding Great Brook
are examples of forested – deciduous wetlands.
Forested – evergreen wetlands are wetlands with evergreen trees as the dominant
vegetation type. Hemlock and Atlantic white cedar are examples of evergreen trees
that might be dominant in a forested – evergreen wetland. This type of wetland may be
found in the Great Meadows drainage south of Kimball Road.
Forested – dead wetlands are wetlands where a once forested wetland has been
flooded (usually by a beaver impoundment) and the standing trees are dead. The Cove
area in Kensington is an example of this wetland type. These wetland types often
become nesting areas for great blue heron rookeries and for cavity nesting ducks and
songbirds until the trees fall down.
Deciduous – shrub wetlands are wetlands where the dominant form of vegetation is
deciduous shrubs. Highbush blueberry, silky and red osier dogwood, sweet gale, spice
bush, and winterberry are common deciduous shrubs in Kensington wetlands, found in
both the Great Meadows and the Cove.
Evergreen – shrub wetlands are relatively uncommon. These wetland types are
dominated by shrubs that do not lose their leaves. Leatherleaf and labrador tea are
broadleaf evergreen shrubs.
Unconsolidated bottom wetlands are those wetlands with open water over much of
the surface area of the wetland. Muddy Pond in Kensington is an example of this type
of wetland. Only 4-6 acres of Muddy Pond are open water, but the floating bog acreage
around the pond is nearly twice as much. Vegetation may grow in these wetlands below
the surface of the water and/or may float on the water but is typically not visible early in
the growing season when the aerial photography used to classify wetland types is taken.
The total area for NWI wetlands in Kensington is 2,215.7 acres or 28.9 % of the town’s surface
area. This acreage does not include seasonal wetlands and vernal pools. Some people would
say that this high percentage of wetland makes Kensington rather unusual and fortunate
because wetlands provide critical water supply storage and wildlife habitat.
Wetland Buffers - In addition to retaining the wetland itself, the undeveloped uplands
surrounding the wetland are also essential for a healthy wetland. Maintaining a buffer of a
naturally vegetated upland area adjacent to wetlands and surface waters is important to reduce
the adverse effects of human activity on these water resources. Vegetation in buffers
intercepts rainfall, slows meltwater and promotes infiltration. In addition, a vegetated buffer
provides habitat for species dependant on the wetland system and travel corridors for larger
mammals. A minimum upland buffer width around wetlands and other shorelines of 100 feet is
recommended and 300 feet is desirable to maintain good habitat.
The first step to protecting wetlands and the functions they provide is protecting the land
surrounding them. A look at current zoning regulations in Kensington shows a limited amount
of protection to buffers compared to recommendations from “Buffers for Wetlands and Surface
Waters”, A Guidebook for New Hampshire Municipalities published in 1997 by the NH
Department of Environmental Services. The guidebook states that “100 feet is recommended
as a reasonable minimum buffer width under most circumstances.” It explains that research
has shown that 100 feet will generally provide a 60% or higher removal rate of pollutants.
Because of the impacts to human health of tainted water supplies, buffers larger than 100 feet
may be prescribed around existing or potential water supplies. Buffers of 100 feet protect
wildlife species that are aquatic or that stay very close to the wetland edge, but would provide
little or no life support for others. Water quality in wetlands and surface waters is important
for all wildlife, not just aquatic.
Table 4
Riparian Buffer Requirements
as recommended by the Center for Watershed Protection, Elliott, MD
Bank stabilization
Sediment control
Flood control
Wildlife habitat
Minimum Buffer Width
50 feet
150 feet
200 feet
300 feet
Current Kensington zoning regulations require a 100 foot buffer between septic systems and
wetland soils. Buildings currently have a setback of 50 feet from wetlands or body of water.
Septic systems, which generate excess nutrients and pathogens, are not at the minimum
recommended setback and are potentially very detrimental to wetland systems. Septic systems
have a finite useful life until replacement is needed; unfortunately replacement is seldom done
until the system fails. Hydric B wetlands are usually a waterbody’s first defense against
pollutants and need just as much buffer as Hydric A soils to provide an acceptable rate (60%) of
pollutant removal. Buffering wetlands and surface waters should make up only one piece of a
comprehensive natural resource protection plan. As this town faces more development
pressures on natural resources, changes in zoning may need to be instituted, coupled with
protection through acquisition or easements, to protect a broad spectrum of water resources.
Great Meadows Wetland Complex - The Great Meadows wetland complex encompasses 1,400
acres on Kensington’s northern border with Exeter and is a critical wetland abutting and feeding
the Exeter River. Great Meadows has been identified in several plans as a high priority for
resource protection. These plans include the 2006 Land Conservation Plan for New
Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds, The Society for the Protection of NH Forests’ study on
southeastern New Hampshire, and the Conservation Plan for the Great Bay Region prepared by
the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership. Conservation of the several parcels of land in
town, including the Kimball, Parker, Tuthill, and other properties is a critical step towards
protection of this valuable natural resource.
Groundwater Resources
Kensington residents receive their drinking water entirely from groundwater sources. Aquifers
are concentrations of groundwater, and those having medium to high potential to yield
groundwater occur in the seacoast area as alluvial deposits of sand and gravel or in bedrock
fractures. The sand and gravel deposits are called “stratified drift aquifers” and typically yield
more groundwater than bedrock fractures. The major source of recharge to these aquifers is
through precipitation filtering directly down into the aquifer. Map 4 displays aquifers and
groundwater in Kensington.
A 1992 study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) identified one very large and two small
stratified drift aquifers within Kensington. The largest aquifer lies beneath Route 150 from
North Road to Old Amesbury Road. This aquifer is categorized by USGS as having a
transmissivity of less than 1,000 square feet/day. Transmissivity is the ability of an aquifer to
transmit water. Within this large aquifer there are two small areas, one near the intersection of
Route 150 and Route 107 and the other on the Seabrook town line south of Route 107 with a
higher producing capacity and tranmissivity of greater than 2,000 square feet/day. Both of
these aquifers lie beneath the Town’s commercial zone. Also south of Route 107 is an aquifer
that lies beneath Kensington, Hampton Falls, Seabrook and Amesbury. The fourth aquifer in
Kensington is a small aquifer with a tranmissivity of less than 1,000 square feet/day, which lies
beneath Osgood Road from Drinkwater Road to Hemlock Road.
Groundwater quality can be impaired by a variety of materials. Sources of groundwater
contamination include gravel pit excavations, landfills, commercial and industrial wastes,
agricultural fertilizer, failing septic systems, and road salt. Former gravel pit exposures have
been a major negative factor on these aquifers in the past. Groundwater quantity can be
reduced by contamination of groundwater supplies, over-pumping in the aquifer zone, and
increasing impervious surfaces such as roof tops, roads, and parking lots. These surfaces
prevent the infiltration of precipitation into the ground.
Impervious Surfaces - When a watershed is increasingly covered with pavement, buildings, and
other compacted surfaces that are impervious to water, significant changes in water quality and
quantity result. When rain falls on impervious surfaces, it runs off faster into surface waters,
carrying with it sediment and pollutants from road surfaces, lawns, construction sites, and
parking lots. Flooding, warming water temperatures, and channelization of streams are the
result. Infiltration of rainfall into the ground to replenish groundwater is reduced, reducing the
quantity of groundwater available for withdrawals for drinking water.
This type of run-off, called “non-point source pollution”, is now the most serious threat to
water quality for New Hampshire and for Kensington. Low impact construction and site designs
that promote retention and infiltration of rainwater and runoff, narrower streets and driveways
when possible, shrub and tree buffers to waterways, and more compact development patterns
can protect Kensington’s water quality and quantity as the town grows.
Studies conducted in the northeast have documented that by converting as little as 10% of a
watershed to impervious surfaces, stream water quality and organisms begin to deteriorate.
Above 25% impervious surface, water quality is seriously degraded.
Numerous agencies are currently studying groundwater resources in Southeastern New
The New Hampshire Coastal Program, New Hampshire Department of
Environmental Services, New Hampshire Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey have
researched the availability of groundwater resources in Kensington and surrounding
communities. Population increase and associated development have resulted in an estimated
50% increase in the use of groundwater and surface water resources for drinking water as well
as industrial and other uses. To gain a better understanding of how much groundwater is
available in the region, researchers quantified water storage and water movement in
groundwater and surface water systems. The final report, “Assessment of Ground-Water
Resources in the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire”, states:
Climate change in New England is forecast to include more frequent and intense precipitation
events, with a slight decrease to little change in total precipitation, and increasing
temperatures. The effects of this potential future climate change on the Seacoast hydrologic
system would likely include reduced base flows and fresh ground-water discharges to tidal areas
and lowered ground-water levels. The effects of these climate changes by 2025 were estimated
to be greater than the potential effects of increased water demands. The analyses indicated
that there are potential issues of concern for future use of water resources in the Seacoast
region. The models developed and demonstrated in this investigation can provide waterresource managers and planners tools with which to assess future water resources in this
region. The findings regarding the effects of increasing water demand and potential climate
change on ground-water availability may be transferrable to other regions of the Nation with
similar hydrogeologic and climatic characteristics.
The full report is available from the following website:
Stormwater - Stormwater is a term used to describe water that originates during precipitation
events. It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt or rain.
Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, which either flows into
surface waterways or is channeled into storm sewers. The US EPA established the National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to identify sources of stormwater pollution and
other contaminating discharges.
Stormwater is of concern for two reasons, flooding and pollution. The volume and timing of
runoff can impact flood storage and control, and stormwater runoff can also flush potential
contaminants from roads and parking lots into surface waters.
The treatment and management of stormwater becomes increasingly important with the
increasing amounts of impervious surface cover in Kensington and surrounding communities.
Two important resources exist for aiding in stormwater management: the US EPA, and the
University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, which serves as a local resource to
communities on stormwater management. The UNH Stormwater Center’s website has many
resources for Planning Boards, Conservation Commissions, developers and landowners:
Potential Threats to Water Resources - There are two general types of pollution threats
to surface and groundwater resources: nonpoint and point. Nonpoint pollution sources are
diffuse and may discharge pollutants over a broad area. Examples include stormwater runoff
from parking lots and roads, erosion and sediment from land development, and leachate from
failed septic systems. Point sources of pollution are discernible as the sources can be identified,
typically pipes, ditches, and channels.
Potential threats to water resources in Kensington include:
Salt Piles – Town owned salt pile is enclosed and located on Route 107.
Salted Road – All the paved roads in Kensington receive some degree of salting during
the winter months.
Underground Fuel Storage Tanks – Underground Storage Tanks (UST) are a potential
threat to water resources in that releases can occur due to spills, defects in tank
construction, improper installation, and corrosion of older tanks. New Hampshire
requires all tanks with a capacity of 1,100 gallons or more to be registered and the use
reported to the NH DES Waste Management Division. UST’s are located at the gas
station on Amesbury Road. There are smaller fuel tanks in town, especially around
older homes.
Pesticide Application Sites, Farms, and Agricultural Uses – There are several active farms
in Kensington which may use fertilizers and pesticides as a part of normal agricultural
practice. The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food promotes
the use of Best Management Practices to reduce the threat of pollution from
agricultural operations. There are also lawns surrounding homes where pesticides and
artificial fertilizers are applied regularly.
Industrial and Commercial Activity – There are a few industrial and manufacturing
businesses in Kensington located along the Route 150 Commercial Zone, one utility
company along Drinkwater Road, a large tractor sales store on Route 107, and a gasoline
station, store, and restaurant on Route 150. It is important to note that the highest
producing groundwater aquifer lies underneath the Route 150 Commercial Zone.
Septic Systems and Leaching Fields – Generally speaking, septic systems are considered
nonpoint source pollution because of their discharge of effluent into the ground. The
threat presented by such systems increases when a system fails and the wastewater is
not treated sufficiently. All wastewater produced in Kensington is treated by septic
Waste from livestock and household pets are also a threat to surface water and
groundwater quality.
Recommendations for Protecting Freshwater Resources:
Consider requiring a 100 foot vegetative buffer from wetlands to maintain water quality
and wildlife habitat.
Increase Code Enforcement of existing wetland regulations.
Encourage use of pervious surfaces in development and renovation with the goal of
decreasing the amount of impervious surfaces such as reducing road width
requirements for subdivisions.
Promote the creation of Rain Gardens.
Prevent the spread of invasive exotic aquatic plants such as phragmites and purple
loosestrife to ponds and wetlands through education, monitoring, and removal.
Educate the public on the importance of protecting wetlands and their vegetative
buffers and reducing non-point source pollution from sedimentation, fertilizers,
pesticides, and hazardous wastes.
Monitor groundwater resources in Kensington.
Decrease the allowable coverage area for development in the Commercial District which
overlies an aquifer.
Agricultural and Farmland Resources
Agricultural land is valued in Kensington for the food that its farmers produce, some of which is
locally available. It is also valued for its scenic beauty and diverse habitat. Kensington’s farmers
and farm families help other residents connect with the town’s rural heritage and promote
better land management. In addition, Kensington’s farmers are stewards of significant natural
resources in the community. Table 6 describes some active farms in Kensington.
Aside from its obvious importance for growing food, agricultural land has value as a scenic
resource, as wildlife habitat, and as a groundwater recharge area. Farming also provides
economic benefits, especially to the local and regional economy. The loss of farmland has a
direct impact on the landscape as well as an indirect impact on the local tax rate. The indirect
economic benefit of farming relates to the real estate value of the farmland itself compared to
the cost of providing public services to residents once the land is converted to residences. As
demonstrated in the Cost of Community Services study conducted by the UNH Cooperative
Extension Service in 1995, residential subdivisions cost the town more in terms of providing
municipal services than is received in increased property tax revenue, whereas farmland and
other open land produce more in revenues than they consume in services, even when enrolled
in the Current Use program.
Although most of the farms are smaller in size than in the past, these remaining farms have a
very significant impact on the scenic and rural qualities of the community. Farming in
Kensington is defined as any agricultural activity in which land is used for the purpose of
producing any cultivated commodity, including, tree farms, orchards, maple sugarbushes,
livestock, and poultry.
Table 5
Agricultural Resources in Kensington
Including farms, active forestland, equestrian facilities
Bodwell Farm
Sargent Farm
Flying Colour Farm
Kensington Equestrian Center
Yorkfield Farm
Kenridge Farm
Drumlin Farm
Shaw’s Hill Farm
1739 Kimball Farm
Wild Pasture Farm
Red Oak Farm/Dingman
Trundle Bed Farm
Sweet Baby Vineyards
Cole Farm
Heron Pond Farmstand
Hemlock Hollow Farm
Stumpfield Road
Route 84
Route 84
Amesbury Road
Drinkwater Road
North Haverhill Road
Amesbury Road
Shaws Hill Road
Kimball Road
Wild Pasture Road
South Road
Cottage Road
South Road
Stumpfield Road
South Road
Moulton Ridge Road
South Road
South Road
Phillips Exeter Academy (former
Colby and Benedetto farms)
Drinkwater Road
Milk, cattle,hay
Hay, cattle
Horse boarding, training
Horse boarding, training
Horse boarding, training
Horse boarding, training
Fruit and vegetables
Hay, maple syrup
Horse boarding
Vineyard, wine
Maple syrup
Beef cattle, hay
Hay, livestock
Opening May 2013
Maple syrup, berries,
Christmas trees
Hay, trees
Agricultural Soils - New Hampshire is losing its most productive farmland. Between 1982 and
2000, nearly 18,000 acres of prime farmland became unavailable for production of crops, feed,
forage or fiber. Most was lost to urban and rural development. Only 2% of New Hampshire soils
classify as prime farmland. Prime Farmland is defined as land that has the best combination of
physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber and oilseed crops
and is also available for these uses. Cropland, usually the most productive agricultural land, has
declined 30% statewide from 1974 to 2000.
An analysis of 2010 landcover data shows that 1,483.7 acres of land in Kensington are classified
as Prime Farmland, 1,185.3 acres are classified as farmland of local importance, and 1,804.9
acres are classified as farmland of statewide importance. The last two categories are defined as
soils that may economically produce high yields of crops when treated and managed according
to acceptable farming methods. Map 5 identifies farmland soils.
Hay is grown on a commercial basis by several farms, and some of these farms are listed in
Table 6. There are many other Kensington residents who hay or have their fields hayed but are
not commercial operations. There are numerous other residents unknown to us who have
horses, sheep, chickens and other livestock. In addition, many people raise vegetables, fruit and
herbs and make maple syrup for their own consumption and to share with their family
In order to get a more accurate understanding of the value of agriculture to Kensington, the
Town could complete an Agricultural Profile. A copy of the fact sheet Developing an
Agricultural Profile for Your Town is available from the UNH Cooperative Extension:
Recommendations for Protecting Agricultural Resources:
Agriculture is important to Kensington in many ways. The commercial farms contribute to the
town economically and the Town’s residents are fortunate to enjoy locally grown produce. The
open fields and farm structures comprise much of the rural and scenic character of town.
Recommendations to help sustain economically viable agriculture in Kensington are:
Continue to educate farmland owners about the benefits of conservation easements on
their property.
Encourage farmers to follow “Best Management Practices” to protect water quality.
Research and implement mechanisms for greater protection of prime agricultural soils
Forest Resources
Forests provide Kensington with a diverse range of benefits. Kensington’s forests provide
valuable habitat for plant and animal populations. The forests absorb rainwater, increase
groundwater infiltration, and buffer surface waters from sedimentation and contamination.
Near roads and homes, trees cool summer temperatures by 10 degrees or more, break winter
winds, and filter dust and pollutants from the air. Forests host recreational trails and hunting
grounds. Forests also produce great quantities of oxygen and consume large quantities of
carbon dioxide. Our tourist industry and seasonal residents are attracted by healthy forests. In
addition, well-managed forests provide a sustainable supply of maple syrup, home firewood
and commercial wood products and jobs needed by New Hampshire residents.
A forest is comprised of several forest types. Forest types are distinctive associations or
communities of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. They are named for the predominant
tree species occurring in the type. Common forest types in Kensington include White Pine;
Northern Hardwood (sugar maple, beech, black and yellow birch, red maple, white ash and
smaller amounts of other species); Red Oak, White Oak, Swamp White Oak, Black Oak,
Hemlock, and Aspen-Birch. A forest type may be dominated by a single tree species or it may
dominated by several species growing together. Some of the rarer occurring native tree species
include red spruce, adjacent to the Horse Hill seepage swamp; striped (moose) maple on
Moulton Ridge; and, a scattering of still surviving American chestnut saplings, as well as red
pine, pitch pine, and black gum.
Kensington’s forests provide us with wood and food products, wildlife, scenic beauty, a
modified microclimate, stabilization of steep slopes and snowpacks, the control of water flows,
the creation and maintenance of stream habitat for aquatic animals, and recreation. In
addition, forests constitute a major storage of carbon not only in the trees themselves, but in
the forest soils as well. Map 7 highlights unfragmented blocks of land, including forest, in town.
New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the US trailing Maine. Kensington is
approximately 51% forested; the state average is approximately 85%. Many of Kensington’s
forests have grown from abandoned agricultural land and are now mature.
Recommendations for Protecting Forest Resources:
Identify forestland abutting brooks, streams and ponds for conservation as these forests
play an important role in protecting water quality and quantity, and wildlife habitat.
Encourage forest activities to follow best forest management practices supporting
natural diversity and economic benefits.
Partner with land conservation organizations and surrounding municipalities in the
region to protect critical areas identified in the Land Conservation Plan for New
Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds.
Strengthen enforcement of land use regulations by code enforcement.
Natural Communities and Habitat
The July 2010 report from the NH Natural Heritage Bureau entitled, Rare Plants, Rare Animals,
and Exemplary Natural Communities in New Hampshire Towns, describes natural communities
as different types of forests, wetlands, and grasslands. Most of New Hampshire is covered by
relatively common natural community types. Scattered throughout the state, however, and
usually in predictable areas, are distinctive communities found in few other places. The Natural
Heritage Bureau tracks exemplary natural communities. To qualify as exemplary, a natural
community must be of a rare type or must be a very old occurrence of common community in
good condition.
Kensington's natural communities serve not only the practical and essential role of keeping our
soil, water and air healthy, a concept known as ecological services, but they also provide us
with diverse physical landscapes and scenic beauty.
Natural communities are defined by three characteristics:
• The plant species present;
• The physical structure of the vegetation (short grasses vs. tall trees);
• The physical environment, which consists of the physical setting (pond shore or hillside),
the water and nutrients present and the climate.
Natural communities are made up of living components that are closely interrelated and
interact with one another and the environment. Humans are also a part of the living landscape
and have a tremendous influence. Human disturbance of the natural environment is occurring
at a faster pace than the natural communities can adapt to. It is vital that we become aware of
the natural communities we have in Kensington in order to protect them.
The NH Natural Heritage Bureau has identified the following Exemplary Natural Communities in
Semi-rich Oak-sugar maple forest**
Red maple-black ash swamp**
Swamp white oak floodplain forest***
Tall graminoid meadow marsh**
** = community flagged by NH Natural Heritage Bureau as “very high importance”
*** = community flagged by NH Natural Heritage Bureau as “extremely high importance”
These flags are based on a combination of how rare the species or community is and how large
or healthy its examples are in a town.
Table 6
Rare Plant Species and Rare Animal Species in Kensington
Source: NH Natural Heritage Bureau, January 2012
Latin Plant Name
Common Plant Name
Cardamine bulbosa
Mikania Scandens**
Isoetes engelmannii
Carex festucacea
Liparis loeselii
Sanicula canadensis
Carex cristatella**
Latin Bird Name
Bulbous Bitter Cress
Climbing Hempweed
Englemann’s Quillwort
Fescue Sedge
Large Bur-reed
Ardea herodias
Great Blue Heron
Vester Sparrow
Latin Fish Name
Esox americanus
Latin Reptile Name
Clemmys guttata**
Latin Amphibian
# Observed Last
20 Years in Town
Loesel’s Twayblade
Peat Moss
Short-styled Sanicle
Small-crested Sedge
Common Bird Name
# Observed Last
20 Years in Town
Common Fish Name
Redfin Pickerel**
Common Reptile
Spotted Turtle
Common Amphibian
# Observed Last
20 Years in State
# Observed Last
20 Years in State
# Observed Last
20 Years in Town
# Observed Last
20 Years in State
# Observed Last
20 Years in Town
# Observed Last
20 Years in Town
# Observed Last
20 Years in State
# Observed Last
20 Years in State
State Status
State Status
State Status
State Status
State Status
*** = community flagged by NH Natural Heritage Bureau as “extremely high importance”
** = community flagged by NH Natural Heritage Bureau as “very high importance”
* = community flagged by NH Natural Heritage Bureau as “high importance”
These flags are based on a combination of how rare the species or community is and how large
or healthy its examples are in a town.
Protecting our natural communities is necessary to preserve the biological diversity of our
community and of New Hampshire. Biological Diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety and
variability of all living organisms. This variety includes the diversity of plants, animals, fungi,
algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms, their genetic variability, the natural communities in
which they live, and the processes and interactions that weave the biological and physical
elements of the planet into a complex web.
Plant Communities - In 1987, the New Hampshire state legislature passed the Native
Plant Protection Act (NH RSA 217-A) and formally recognized that "for human needs and
enjoyment, the interests of science, and the economy of the state, native plants throughout
this state should be protected and conserved; and their numbers should be maintained and
enhanced to insure their perpetuation as viable components of their ecosystems for the benefit
of the people of New Hampshire." Currently, there are 288 species listed as endangered or
threatened under the Native Plant Protection Act and that are tracked by the NH Natural
Heritage Bureau.
The Kensington Conservation Commission encourages input from residents should they find an
unusual plant species or a unique natural community. The Commission may be reached by
calling the Town Office at 603-772-5423.
Endangered and threatened are defined under the NH Native Plant Protection Act as:
Endangered species are those ceasing to exist locally or in the state; Threatened species face
the possibility of becoming “endangered”.
Plants Listed as Special Concern - In addition to recognizing Endangered and Threatened plant
species, the NH Native Plant Protection Act identifies 11 plants as Special Concern. These
species are somewhat uncommon in New Hampshire, and are at risk of decline due to overcollection.
The NH Natural Heritage Bureau does not track these species, which are species of special
Narrow-leaf wild leek
Wild leek
Wild ginger
Giant blue cohosh
Blue cohosh
Sea lavender
Ostrich fern
Canadian burnet
Slippery elm
Allium tricoccum var. burdickii
Allium tricoccum var. tricoccum
Asarum canadense
Caulophyllum giganteum
Caulophyllum thalictroides
Limonium carolinianum
Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica
Sanguisorba Canadensis
Ulmus rubra
These species are not rare in New Hampshire, but their showy nature makes them vulnerable
to over-collection. Although the listing does not give the plants any legal protection, it does
give the landowner recourse if someone digs it up without the landowner's permission.
Beneficial Insects - Beneficial insects are a natural way to fight insect pests and protect
our environment. When we encourage beneficial insects we are increasing Kensington’s
biodiversity and decreasing our dependency on poisonous chemical controls. Not only are we
creating a more beautiful environment, but a safer one as well.
There are two categories of insects considered beneficials, predators and parasites. Predators
are organisms that kill and feed on their prey outright. They are generally larger than their prey
and must eat lots of prey to complete their development. Parasites are usually smaller and
often weaker than their prey. They lay eggs on or within a host insect. The immature larvae
use the host for food over time. A parasite will use only one or a few insects for food.
You can entice beneficial insects to your yard and garden by providing them with the three
basic necessities: water, food and shelter. In addition, you should avoid using and/or spraying
broad-spectrum insecticides. The broad-spectrum insecticides are not selective in that they will
kill not only the pest but the beneficial as well. Even the organic pesticides will kill the
beneficial insects.
Table 7
Beneficial Insects
Aphid Midge
Assasin Bug
Big-eyed Bug
Braconid Wasp
Pests They Prey On
60 species of aphids (on vegetables, flowers, fruit and shade trees)
Many insects including, aphids, Japanese beetles, leaf hoppers, fly larvae, tomato
Eggs and small larvae of armyworms, hornworms, loopers, corn earworms, spider
mites, aphids, leafhoppers, flea beetles, mealybugs and thrips. One big-eyed bug
can eat 12 small caterpillars or leafhoppers per day.
Tomato hornworm, armyworm, cabbageworm, gypsy moth, other caterpillars, beetle
larvae, flies, aphids and other insects
Extremely important wild pollinators for a variety of fruit and seed crops.
including the
Orchard Mason Bee
Predators of soil-dwelling pests and insects including slugs, worms and fly pupae.
They may also feed on earthworms, but are considered beneficials.
Damsel bugs
Aphids, thrips, leafhoppers, caterpillars, plant bugs and tree hoppers
Mosquitoes and small flying insects
Darners &
Many species of pest insects
Ground Beetle
Hoverflies (Flower
Ichneumon Wasp
Lady Beetle
Minute Pirate Bug
Praying Mantis
Predatory Mite
Predatory Thrip
Rove Beetle
Spider Mite
Spined Soldier Bug
Tachinid flies
Tiger beetles
Water Boatmen
Water Strider
Yellow Jackets
Most species prey on slugs, snails, cutworms and cabbage-root maggots in soil; some
pursue prey on plants or trees, such as Colorado potato beetle larvae, gypsy moth
and tent caterpillars.
Many species of aphids
Extremely important pollinators of fruit, vegetables and agricultural crops. It is
estimated that over 80 percent of pollination is done by domestic honeybees. 1
They lay their eggs inside other host insects such as caterpillars, sawfly, beetle larvae
and other pests then parasitizes and kills the host.
Soft-bodied insects including aphids, thrips, mealybugs, some scales, moth eggs,
small caterpillars and mites.
Aphids, thrips, mealybugs, mites or soft scales.
Mealybugs, scale insects, aphids.
Feed on decaying plant material and are beneficial in breaking down organic matter.
May occasionally feed on plant material laying on ground, like strawberries and
tomatoes. Also predator of slugs and fly pupae.
Will eat anything, but prefer thrips, spider mites, eggs of many insects, small
caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms.
Almost anything, including other beneficial insects.
Spider mites
Eggs and larvae of spider mites, aphids, other thrips, codling moth, Oriental fruit
moth, bud moth, peach twig borer, alfalfa weevil, whitefly, leafminer flies and scales.
Many are predators of aphids, springtails, nematodes, fly eggs and maggots in the
soil; some are parasitic on cabbage-root maggots and larvae of other flies. Many
species are scavengers on decaying material.
All spiders are predators. Wolf spiders are particularly beneficial to farmers and
gardeners because they attack many common garden pests.
Many species of spider mites, especially in unsprayed raspberry patches.
Many species of hairless caterpillars and beetle larvae including fall armyworm,
sawfly larvae, Colorado potato beetle and Mexican bean beetle larvae.
Many species of caterpillars, including cutworms, armyworms, tent caterpillars,
cabbage looper, gypsy moth; some attack sawflies, Japanese beetle, May beetle,
squash bugs, green stink bugs and sowbugs.
Both adults and larvae prey on a wide variety of insects, but are considered mostly
Eggs of over 200 species of moths, including spruce budworm, tomato hornworm,
corn earworm, corn borers and codling moth.
Mosquito larvae underwater
Mosquitoes at water’s surface
Adults seize large numbers of caterpillars, flies, beetle grubs and other insects to
feed their young.
Wildlife Habitat - Kensington’s forests, grasslands, farmland, wetlands, and rivers
provide rich and diverse habitat for numerous animal species. A formal, on the ground
inventory of animals for Kensington has never been conducted, so the correct extent of special
habitats, rare species and common species is unknown. Birds have been well surveyed,
especially during the 1980’s by NH Audubon. The 2006 New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife
Action Plan provides insight to some of Kensington’s wildlife habitats. These special habitats
and unfragmented natural lands need to be conserved in order to prevent common species
from becoming rare and rare species from being extirpated from New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan may be found at the following website:
Unfragmented Open Space - Large blocks of forest, wetlands and farmland that are
unfragmented by development or public roads are valuable for wildlife habitat, because they:
provide essential forest interior habitat for species such as some songbirds that need to
be distanced from human activity, pets, and the forest edge in order to survive.
provide habitat for mammals that have large home ranges and prefer to avoid human
contact, such as bobcat, bear, coyotes, deer, otter, and moose.
enable owners of large parcels of forestland to conduct timber harvests that are
economically viable.
minimize conflicts that can arise when managed forests and farms are surrounded and
interspersed with development.
offer opportunities for remote recreation, including hunting, hiking, birdwatching,
horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, and snowmobiling, where
landowners allow.
Larger fragments are more likely to support viable populations of species and therefore act as a
source of individuals that can then move to another fragment. Small fragments may be unable
to support breeding populations of some species. Persistent habitat fragmentation by roads
and housing may also lead to genetic changes and a loss of genetic diversity as populations of
less mobile species such as salamanders, snakes and turtles, are subdivided into small locally
breeding populations.
Table 8 lists the types of habitat found in Kensington as determined by the NH Fish and Game
as part of the 2006 Wildlife Action Plan, updated in March 2010. Information from the Plan is
highlighted on Map 6.
Table 8
Wildlife Habitat Acres in Kensington
Source: NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan, 2006, updated 2010
Habitat Type
Appalachian Oak-Pine
Hemlock-Hardwood Pine
Grasslands over 25 acres
Floodplain Forest
Marsh/Shrub Wetland
Conserving these large blocks and connections between other significant habitat areas is
important if residents want to retain the species that need larger and diverse home ranges and
territories. Some areas should be studied further because the extent of unfragmented lands
extends significantly into adjacent towns making that block more important. Habitat block size
requirements for various animals are currently a subject of much study.
The 2006 NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan describes the following types of habitats found
in Kensington:
Appalachian Oak-Pine Forests - Appalachian oak-pine forests are found mostly below 900 feet
elevation in southern New Hampshire and along the Connecticut River in western New
Hampshire. The nutrient-poor, dry, sandy soils and warm, dry, climate influences the typical
vegetation including oak, hickory, mountain laurel, and sugar maple. Many wildlife species use
these forests for part or all of their life cycle including whip-poor-wills, black bears, northern
myotis, and state endangered eastern hognose snakes. Traditionally, Appalachian oak-pine
forests are influenced by frequent fires, which change the age structure of the forest. The
diverse age and structure of the forest help to promote wildlife diversity. Intense development
pressure particularly in the southeast corner of New Hampshire has dramatically reduced
naturally occurring fires and increased fragmentation of this forest type. Incorporating habitat
conservation into local land use planning, protecting unfragmented blocks, and adopting
sustainable forestry are a few examples of conservation strategies for Appalachian oak-pine
forests. Click here to read the Appalachian oak-pine Habitat Profile in NH's Wildlife Action Plan
(PDF, 134 KB).
Hemlock-Hardwood-Pine Forests - Hemlock-hardwood-pine forests are comprised of mostly
hemlock, white pine, beech, and oak trees. Since this is a transitional forest, it can occur at
different elevations and over different types of soil and topography, so the composition of
vegetation can be variable. This forest type is the most common in New Hampshire and covers
nearly 50% of the state and provides habitat for numerous wildlife species such as the winter
wren, northern and Louisiana water thrush, hermit thrush and other ground nesting birds,
eastern pipistrelle bat, and bobcat. Many of the species that use this habitat type require large
blocks of unfragmented forest such as the northern goshawk and black bear. Since this forest
type is so common, it is sometimes overlooked in conservation efforts. Development and
fragmentation is a huge threat to the continued existence of hemlock-hardwood-pine forest.
Some conservation strategies for hemlock-hardwood-pine forests are incorporating habitat
conservation into local land use planning, protecting unfragmented blocks of land, and
educating landowners. Click here to read the Hemlock-Hardwood-Pine Forest Habitat Profile in
NH's Wildlife Action Plan (PDF, 133 KB).
Grassland - Grasslands are comprised of grasses, sedges, and wildflowers with little to no
shrubs and trees. The most common grassland habitats are airports, capped landfills, wet
meadows, and agricultural fields such as hayfields, pastures and fallow fields. Pre-colonial
grasslands in New Hampshire were probably only maintained by beaver and fires started by
lightening and Native Americans. The numerous agricultural lands maintained by early
European settlers provided ideal habitat for some wildlife species that need grassland habitat.
As these agricultural lands were abandoned, these populations began to decline and are now
on the state endangered list such as the eastern hognose snake, northern harrier, upland
sandpiper and on the state threatened list such as the grasshopper sparrow. Other species also
benefit from these open grass fields such as wood turtles and numerous species of butterflies.
Development and natural forest succession have reduced grassland habitat in the state.
Grasslands require maintenance and must be mowed to prevent them from becoming
shrublands or forests. Only 8% of NH grasslands are currently under conservation easements.
Reclaiming and maintaining grasslands are two important conservation strategies for grassland
habitats. Many grassland and potential grassland habitat are on private land and landowners
can help restore and conserve them. Click here to read the Grassland Habitat Profile in NH's
Wildlife Action Plan (PDF, 148 KB).
Floodplain Forest - Floodplain forests occur in valleys adjacent to river channels and are prone
to periodic flooding. Also referred to as riparian forests, they support diverse natural
communities, protect and enhance water quality by filtering and sequestering pollution, and
control erosion and sediment. Many wildlife species use these forests at some point in their life
cycle. It would not be uncommon to find red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, veery, or
chestnut-sided warblers breeding in floodplain forests. Evidence of beaver, mink, or otter can
usually be found along the water’s edge. Other wetlands, like swamps and vernal pools, can be
found in floodplain forests and these areas are particularly important for Jefferson
salamanders, northern leopard frog, wood turtles, and state endangered Blanding's turtles.
Since these species, like most wildlife species, use a variety of habitats, not only is a floodplain
forest important but the adjacent upland is also crucial for these species. Floodplain forests
with their rich soils have been converted to open farmland, hay land and grazing land for
centuries, so many floodplains are no longer forested wildlife habitat. Other human activities
have threatened these habitats including residential and commercial development along rivers
and the installation of dams which have altered the natural flooding regime. Floodplain habitats
are particularly vulnerable to invasive plants because the frequent disturbances from flooding
give aliens opportunities to establish, and because these species tend to thrive in the nutrient
rich soils characteristic of floodplains. Annual flooding can help control some of these invasives,
if the natural flood regime is not altered. Deep flooding by beaver dams can be effective in
temporarily eliminating them and stopping their spread. Some conservation strategies for
maintaining this unique habitat type in the state are managing river impoundments to simulate
natural water flows, removing dams where possible, and protecting the highest quality sites.
Many floodplain forests are on private land and landowners can help restore and conserve
them. Click here to read the Floodplain Forest Habitat Profile in NH's Wildlife Action Plan (PDF,
159 KB).
Marsh and Shrub Wetlands - Emergent marsh and shrub swamp systems have a broad range of
flood regimes, sometimes controlled by the presence or departure of beavers, but mostly
controlled by groundwater. This system, which is an important food source for many species, is
often grouped into three broad habitat categories: wet meadows, emergent marshes, and
scrub-shrub wetlands. Marsh and shrub wetlands filter pollutants, preventing them from
getting into local streams, and help hold water to reduce flooding. Many wildlife species use
marsh and shrub wetlands including common species like red-winged blackbirds, beavers, and
painted turtles. Marsh and shrub wetlands are also critically important for state endangered
Blanding's turtles, New England cottontails, northern harriers, ringed boghaunters, and sedge
wrens plus state threatened spotted turtles and pied billed grebes. Development is a threat to
these habitats mostly from driveways and roads that fragment wetlands or change the flow of
water. The loss of an upland habitat around a marsh or shrub wetland also increases the
amount of pollution and sedimentation threatening the habitat. Another constant threat to
marsh and shrub wetlands is invasive plants such as purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed
that compete with native vegetation. Some conservation strategies for marsh and shrub
wetlands are restoration and protection of these important habitats. Many marsh and shrub
wetlands are on private land and landowners can help restore and conserve them. Click here to
download the Marsh and Shrub Wetlands Habitat Stewardship Series. Click here to read the
Marsh and Shrub Wetland Habitat Profile in NH's Wildlife Action Plan (PDF, 187 KB).
Peatlands - Peatland habitats are extremely important for carbon sequestration on a local and
global scale. The water in peatlands has low nutrient content and typically high acidity caused
by limited groundwater input and surface runoff. These environmental conditions are such that
plant and animal material take a very long time to decompose. This organic material contains
carbon and other nutrients, storing it away and slowly releasing it into the atmosphere.
Drainage and destruction of peatlands releases this carbon into the atmosphere quicker,
increasing greenhouse gases today. Conservation of the 11 different natural communities that
comprise peatlands is also vital to the continued existence of many rare plant and wildlife
species in New Hampshire. The state endangered ringed bog haunter uses peatlands and the
surrounding uplands in the southern part of the state and may be found at Muddy Pon,d, but
the “quaking bog’ that surrounds the pond makes access difficult. Typical vegetation in a
peatland such as Muddy Pond includes sphagnum moss, leather leaf, Atlantic white cedar, and
American larch. Threats to peatland habitats are development, altered hydrology (amount and
flow of water), and unsustainable forest harvesting. Non-point source pollutants, such as road
salt, lawn fertilizers, and pesticides, also threaten this habitat by altering the acidity and
nutrients. Establishing buffers around this habitat is one conservation strategy that will help
minimize the threats to peatland habitats. Click here to read the Peatland Habitat Profile in
NH's Wildlife Action Plan (PDF, 168 KB).
All wildlife needs food, shelter, water and space to survive. These life requirements are defined
as an animal’s habitat. Animals use a variety of strategies to find food, water and shelter in the
environment and it is these strategies that determine the habitat needs for each species.
Habitat is everywhere, yet some habitat is more important to wildlife than others. Habitat is
more significant when it supports a rare species, represents a smaller percentage of the
landscape, provides an abundance of food or other resources provides a buffer for wildlife
against the effects of development, and is associated with several other types of habitat.
Other Unique or Critical Habitats - This habitat type is divided into the following groups:
Habitat that is rare statewide, for example the stands of swamp white oak in
Kensington’s Great Brook drainage and the Great Meadows;
Habitat that is rare in a particular geographic area, for example the bog-like Muddy
Pond and the extensive grassy marshes in Great Meadows;
Uncommon land features which provide unique conditions for certain species, for
example denning sites in rock piles;
Habitat critical to certain species during a particular phase of their life cycle or a
particular time of the year. Examples include cold water brooks for native brook trout,
vernal pools, waterfowl migration stop-over sites and deer wintering areas, all of which
are found in Kensington. Large wetlands like Great Meadows and active beaver ponds
are valuable stop-over sites for migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall. Canada
geese, wood ducks, black ducks, hooded mergansers, rails, bitterns, sedge and marsh
wrens, mallards, and many other species rest, nest and feed here. Migrating geese also
feed in the pasture field and corn stubble of Kensington cornfields in the spring and fall.
Seeps or seepage wetlands are generally small areas (less than ¼ acre) that occur where
groundwater comes to the surface. These sites are the first to green-up in the spring and
are frequented by a variety of wildlife for that reason. Dependent species in Kensington
include deer, moose, turkey, salamanders, migrating birds including woodcock. They
also provide critical habitat for rare plants and insects like the butterfly species that only
feeds on Atlantic white cedar which grows in and adjacent to the Hogs Hill seepage
Wildlife Species in Kensington – The following tables list species of birds, mammals,
amphibians, reptiles and fish observed in Kensington. The information is provided by
Kensington resident George Gavutis, a noted naturalist and wildlife biologist.
Table 9
Bird Species Observed in Kensington
Observations made primarily by Kensington resident George Gavutis
Between 1973-2012
* = Breeding Birds in Northeast
U = Uncommon in Kensington
R = Very Rare in Kensington
C = Common in Kensington
1 = Bird observed in Kensington between 1973-2012
2 = Bird breeds in Kensington
3 = Bird observed just flying over Kensington
LOON, Common* R
GREBE, Pied-billed* R
CORMORANT, Double-crested*
BITTERN, American* R
HERON, Great Blue* C
EGRET, Great* R
HERON, Green-backed* U
NIGHT-Heron, Black-cr.* R
IBIS, Glossy* R
GOOSE, Canada* C
DUCK, Wood* C
TEAL, Green-winged* U
DUCK, American Black* U
PINTAIL, Northern* R
TEAL, Blue-winged* R
CRANE, Sandhill R
PLOVER, Black-bellied R
SANDPIPER, Upland*Pre-1970’s R
SANDPIPER, Semipalmated R
SNIPE, Common* U
WOODCOCK, American* C
GULL, Ring-billed* U
GULL, Herring* C
GULL, Great Black-backed* R
DOVE, Rock* U
DOVE, Mourning* C
CUCKOO, Black-billed* U
SHOVELER, Northern* R
WIGEON, American* R
DUCK, Ring-necked* R
DUCK, Mandarin R
VULTURE, Turkey* C
EAGLE, Bald* R
HARRIER, Northern* R
HAWK, Sharp-shinned* U
HAWK, Cooper’s* C
GOSHAWK, Northern* R
HAWK, Red-shouldered* U
HAWK, Broad-winged* C
HAWK, Red-tailed* C
HAWK, Rough-legged R
KESTREL, American* U
PHEASANT, Ring-necked* U
GROUSE, Ruffed* U
BOBWHITE, Northern* R
RAIL, King* R
RAIL, Virginia* U
MOORHEN, Common* R
SWALLOW, N. Rough-winged* R
JAY, Blue* C
CROW, American* C
CROW, Fish* R
RAVEN, Common* U
CHICKADEE, Black-capped* C
NUTHATCH, Red-breasted* U
NUTHATCH, White-breasted* C
WREN, Carolina* U
WREN, House*
WREN, Winter* U
WREN, Sedge* R
WREN, Marsh* R
CUCKOO, Yellow-billed* R
OWL, Great Horned* U
OWL, Snowy R
OWL, Barred* C
OWL, N. Saw-whet* R
SWIFT, Chimney* U
WOODPECKER, Red-bellied* C
SAPSUCKER, Yellow-bellied* U
FLICKER, Northern* C
FLYCATCHER, Olive-sided* R
WOOD-PEWEE, Eastern* C
PHOEBE, Eastern* C
KINGBIRD, Eastern* C
LARK, Horned* R
MARTIN, Purple* R
PARULA, Northern* U
WARBLER, Yellow* C
WARBLER, Chestnut-sided* U
WARBLER, Magnolia* C
WARBLER, Cape May* R
WARBLER, Black-throated Blue*U
WARBLER, Yellow-rumped* C
WARBLER, Black-throated Grn* C
WARBLER, Blackburnian* U
WARBLER, Prairie* U
WARBLER, Bay-breasted* R
WARBLER, Backpoll* U
WARBLER, Blan-and-white* U
REDSTART, American* U
KINGLET, Golden-crowned* U
KINGLET, Ruby-crowned* U
BLUEBIRD, Eastern* C
THRUSH, Swainson’s* R
THRUSH, Hermit* U
ROBIN, American* C
WAXWING, Bohemian R
SHRIKE, Northern U
STARLING, European* U
VIREO, White-eyed* R
VIREO, Solitary* U
VIREO, Yellow-throated* U
VIREO, Warbling* U
VIREO, Philadelphia* R
VIREO, Red-eyed* C
WARBLER, Blue-winged* U
WARBLER, Golden-winged* R
WARBLER, Tennessee* R
WARBLER, Nashvile* U
GRACKLE, Common* C
COWBIRD, Brown-headed* C
ORIOLE, Orchard* R
ORIOLE, Northern* C
FINCH, Purple* U
WARBLER, Kentucky* R
WARBLER, Connecticut R
WARBLER, Mourning* R
WARBLER, Hooded* R
WARBLER, Wilson’s* R
WARBLER, Canada* U
TANAGER, Scarlet* C
CARDINAL, Northern* C
GROSBEAK, Rose-br.* C
BUNTING, Indigo* C
TOWHEE, Rufous-sided* U
SPARROW, American Tree C
SPARROW, Chipping* C
SPARROW, Vesper* R
SPARROW, White-throated* C
SPARROW, White-crowned R
JUNCO, Dark-eyed* C
BLACKBIRD, Red-winged* C
FINCH, House* C
CROSSBILL, White-winged* U
GOLDFINCH, American* C
GROSBEAK, Evening* R
With climate change and global warming many new bird species are continuing to appear and
breed in Kensington. Formerly southern birds like the cardinal, titmouse, mockingbird, and redbellied woodpecker were not here a century ago but have spread north, utilizing our yards and
bird feeders. Mississippi kites are just spreading here from the south and sandhill cranes are
now spreading here to inhabit some of our restored forests. Eagles, ospreys, and herons have
recovered from near extinction thanks to control of pesticides and laws protecting migratory
Table 10
Mammal Species Observed in Kensington
Source: Kensington resident George Gavutis
C= Common, U = Uncommon, R= Rare
American Beaver (C)
Big Brown Bat (U)
Black Bear (R)
Norway Rat (U)
Gray Fox (U)
Muskrat (C)
Porcupine (U)
Raccoon (C)
Eastern Coyote (C)
Eastern Chipmunk (C)
Eastern Panther (R)
New England Cottontail (U)
Hoary Bat (R)
Northern Flying Squirrel (C)
Eastern Cottontail (C)
Eastern Gray Squirrel (C)
Eastern Pipistrel Bat (U)
Fisher (C)
Hairytail Mole (C)
Little Brown Myotis (Bat) (U)
Meadow Jumping Mouse (U)
Meadow Vole (C)
Mink (C)
Red Fox (C)
Bobcat (U)
House Mouse (C)
Short Tailed Shrew (C)
Woodland Jumping Mouse (U)
Red Squirrel (C)
River Otter (U)
Short-tail Weasel (C)
Southern Flying Squirrel (C)
Starnose Mole (C)
Striped Skunk (C)
Virginia Opossum (C)
White-footed Mouse (C)
White-tailed Deer (C)
Woodchuck (C)
Moose (R)
Red Bat (R)
Pine Vole (U)
Snowshoe Hare (U)
Beavers were nearly extirpated here until the mid-1900s when they made a quick recovery.
Fishers, porcupines, otters and even deer were very rare until about that same time, as well,
our first coyotes and opossums showed up also about that time and bobcats, bears and moose
are just in the process of returning. A number of residents swear they have seen an Eastern
panther, which very likely was an escaped or released pet, but they were native here as well as
wolves, elk, and maybe even buffalo and caribou.
Table 11
Amphibians & Reptile Species Observed in Kensington
Source: Kensington resident George Gavutis
C= Common, U = Uncommon, R= Rare
Eastern Newt (Red-spotted) (C)
Eastern Red-backed Salamander (C)
Spotted Salamander (U)
American Toad(C)
Spring Peeper (C)
Milk Snake (U)
Pickerel Frog (C)
Gray Tree Frog (C)
Green Frog (C)
Wood Frog (C)
Eastern Painted Turtle (C)
Blanding’s Turtle (R)
Bullfrog (C)
Musk Turtle (R)
Common Snapping Turtle (C)
Spotted Turtle (R)
Wood Turtle (R)
Eastern Ribbon Snake (R)
Common Garter Snake (C)
Green Snake (R)
Northern Water Snake (R)
Fishing is a popular hobby and Kensington’s ponds and brooks and fish are an important natural
resource. It is important to keep in mind that in the Northeast many of our fish have been
contaminated by mercury and other pollutants. Before eating any fish, consult with the most
recent state advisories as to what is a safe consumption level.
Table 12
Freshwater Fish Species Present in Kensington
Source: Kensington resident George Gavutis
C= Common in Kensington
U = Uncommon in Kensington
Brook Trout, native and stocked (C)
Rainbow Trout, stocked only (U)
Pumpkinseed Sunfish, stocked only (U)
Golden Shiner (C)
American Eel (U)
Smallmouth Bass (U)
Eastern Chain Pickerel (U)
Largemouth Bass (C) mostly in dug ponds
Red fin Pickerel (U)
Horned Pout (C)
Black Crappie (U)
Blue Gill (U)
Yellow Perch (U)
The red-fin pickerel is a small fish that seldom reaches more than six to eight inches in length in
New Hampshire. It is very common in the Winkley Brook drainage but goes unnoticed and is
seldom reported because few people are fishing in Kensington’s small brooks and don’t realize
it is a rare species. Horned pout (catfish) used to be a very popular fish and people stocked
many of the small ponds around town with them because they are easy to catch and very good
eating. Our native brook trout are especially beautiful in their fall spawning colors. There are
found in almost all of the small brooks in Kensington and are considered to be a real delicacy by
fishermen that seek them out. Other fish species like the chain pickerel and brown trout, as
well as the anadromous species like alewife and lamprey, are probably also found in the small
portion of the Exeter River where Great Brook enters on the north boundary of Kensington.
Winkley Brook and the Taylor River tributaries would also have sea run brook trout and other
anadromous fish if there was a fish ladder on the dam located in Hampton Falls.
Invasive Species An Invasive Species is a plant, insect, and/or fungal species that is not
naturally native to a particular region and has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively
outside its natural range. The Invasive Species thrives and spreads in a new habitat due to the
fact it has no natural predators (insects, diseases and/or foraging animals) that naturally keep
its growth under control as they would in their own native habitat. Common invasive species
observed in Kensington include Autumn Olive, Oriental Bittersweet, two species of Buckthorn,
Eurasian Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, European and Japanese Barberry, Japanese Knotweed ,
Norway Maple, and Japanese Honeysuckle. Wetland invasive species include phragmites (giant
reed), purple loosestrife and Eurasian milfoil. After a century of unabated invasion of our
wetlands, purple loosestrife is finally being controlled by several insect species that will only
feed on that species. Those insects control the plant in Europe and were not brought here until
recently. Phragmites is now the biggest concern as it rapidly spread from wetland to wetland
and once established it overwhelms all the other native wetland plant species that our wildlife
are dependent on and also create a real fire hazard.
It is important that those of us who reside in Kensington be informed and aware of invasive
species (plants, insects and fungal species) that have the potential to destroy and displace those
natural resources that are vital to our biodiversity. According to the New England Wildflower
Society, nearly 1/5th of New England's 3,000 plant species are in danger of disappearing from
our region. The Nature Conservancy estimates that 42% of all species on the Federal
Endangered Species Lists are listed partly due to the effects of invasive species (and for 18%,
invasive species are the sole reason for their listing). According to the US Department of
Agriculture website,, over $100 million dollars a year is
spent in the United States combating invasive plants in wetlands alone. Rich, diverse plant
communities can become barren, inhospitable expanses of invasive plants with little value to
wildlife. Invasive plants may even deplete groundwater. The public must be educated to buy
plants wisely and to control existing invasive plants
Without any natural predators to prevent its spread, the invasive species, particularly in the
case of plants, will put extreme pressure on native plants and animals. Ultimately the invasive
plant will alter native habitats and reduce biodiversity by choking out native vegetation,
threatening rare and endangered species and degrading wildlife habitat. With the loss of native
vegetation and wildlife habitat also comes the loss of a number of our native animal, bird and
insect species that depend on the native habitats to survive. Invasive species present the worst
threat in fields reverting to forests and in wetlands, and fire prone areas where rare native
plants are found. Invasive plants:
Produce large numbers of new plants each season, often from root systems;
Tolerate many soil types and weather conditions;
Spread easily and efficiently, usually by wind, water, or animals;
Grow rapidly, allowing them to displace slower growing plants;
Spread rampantly when they are free of the natural checks and balances found in
their native range.
In 2000, the State of New Hampshire enacted legislation under House Bill 1258-FN which
"requires the Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets, and Food to conduct research and
educational activities which address the effects of invasive plant, insect and fungal species upon
the state". As a result of this legislation, the New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee was
formed and the species listed in Table 14 were no longer legal to sell.
Most of the native North American chestnut trees, which were one of the primary and most
valuable trees for both wildlife and humans, were killed early in the last century by a blight
introduced from overseas. You can still find young chestnut sprouting from the roots of their
once giant parents in many woodlots in Kensington. Most are killed by the blight well before
they reach maturity but a few chestnut trees up to twelve inches in diameter have been located
and found to be bearing viable nuts. Scientists are also developing seedling from resistant
chestnuts and there is a glimmer of hope that our grandchildren may get to see this species
return to our forests. Our butternut (hickories) have been a valuable and prized tree in many
yards and along roads like Moulton Ridge Road due to their delicious nut but it has recently
been attacked by a foreign blight, similar to the chestnuts, and nearly all our butternut trees are
now dying and are showing no sign of re-sprouting from roots, unlike the chestnut.
Table 13
Prohibited Plant Species in New Hampshire
Source: NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets and Food
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Flowering Bush (Butomous umbellate)
Pale Swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum)
Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa)
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellate)
Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morus-ranae)
Water-flag (Iris psuedacorus)
Blunt-leaved Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)
Showy Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella)
Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Morrow’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)
Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
Black Swallow-wort (Cynanchum nigrum)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Parrot Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
Variable Milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum)
Europ. Water-Milfoil (Myripphyllum spicatum)
European Naiad (Najas minor)
Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata)
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
Curly-leaf Pondweed (Potomogeton crispus)
Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Water Chestnut (Trapa nutans)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
More information on prohibited plant species may be found at the following website:
Table 14
Prohibited Insect Species in New Hampshire
Source: NH Dept. of Agricultural, Markets and Food
Honeybee Tracheal Mite (Acarapis woodi)
Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae)
Cedar Longhorned Beetle (Callidellum
City Longhorned Beetle (Aeolesthes sarta)
Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)
Siberian Silk Moth (Dendrolimus sibircus)
Viburnum Leef Beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni)
Elongated Hemlock Scale (Fiorinia externa)
European Chafer (Rhizotrogus majalis)
Redhaired Bark Beetle (Hylurgus lingniperda)
Nun Moth (Symantria monacha)
(Ips Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle (Tetropium
Asian Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)
Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor)
Hemlock wool adelgid is a destructive organism that has been well established to the south of
here and has spread north with our warming climate. It has just been identified in Kensington
in 2012 in both the Charles Hodges and Meeting House Hill conservation areas, and is expected
to really devastate our hemlocks. Some people, anticipating the worst, have begun to plant our
native red spruce, which is also shade tolerant like hemlock, to maintain privacy screening,
which hemlock has often been used for.
Recommendations to Protect Natural Communities and Wildlife Habitat:
Kensington’s wildlife, and the habitat that it requires, is an important component of the rural
character of the town that is so important to its residents. Because the habitat maps highlight
large, unfragmented blocks of land and wetlands, conserving key wildlife habitats will also work
towards preserving rural character and water quality.
Partner with land conservation organizations and surrounding municipalities in the
region to protect critical areas in Kensington.
Develop and adopt a Conservation Overlay Zoning District designed to minimize the
impacts of development on wildlife habitat, habitat migration corridors, water quality,
and water quantity by requiring Open Space Subdivisions within the Conservation
Overlay Zoning District.
Support the protection of riparian corridors by increasing wetland buffers to 100 feet
and enforcing regulations.
Continue to protect large parcels of unfragmented land from development. Increase
the percentage of current use change tax devoted to the Conservation Fund to 100%.
Minimize impacts to significant habitat during development by requiring that a natural
resource inventory be completed prior to subdivision approval and by code
enforcement during construction.
Apply principles of conservation design to minimize the impacts of development and
preserve natural undeveloped lands.
Work with surrounding communities to identify and conserve wildlife corridors.
Educate residents about the invasive species and the need to prevent their establishment in
Encourage use of native species in development.
Conservation Land
Kensington has several parcels of land that have been permanently protected from future
development due to the actions taken by landowners, land conservation organizations, the
Town, and the State of New Hampshire. Land has been protected in a variety of ways. Some
parcels have been purchased by the Town or donated to the Town to remain undeveloped and
for public use. Some parcels are privately owned and the right to develop the land has been
removed and donated or sold to the Town or a land conservation organization. Public access
on privately owned parcels may be restricted. Map 8 depicts conservation land in Kensington.
What is a conservation easement? A conservation easement deed is a voluntary land
protection agreement that is permanent and legally binding and made to protect the land’s
significant natural features such as drinking water resources, farmland, scenic views, wildlife
habitat, or hiking, biking and walking trails. The agreement is made between a landowner and
a qualified conservation organization or public agency that restricts use of the land to protect
its significant natural features.
What uses are permitted or not permitted on conservation easement land? The uses are
negotiated between the landowner and conservation organization and are permanent and
legally binding. Typical permitted uses include agriculture, forestry, noncommercial outdoor
recreation, wildlife habitat management. Typical prohibited uses include subdivision and
development of the conserved land, mining and excavating, filling or disturbing wetlands, and
disposal of manmade waste or hazardous materials.
How are uses monitored and enforced? A qualified non-profit conservation organization, such
as the Rockingham County Conservation District, Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire, The
Nature Conservancy, or the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, ensures that the property
is protected in perpetuity. The responsible conservation organization has the authority and
obligation to ensure that the natural resources are protected by regularly inspecting the site to
make sure the property is maintained in compliance with the easement.
Are there financial benefits for the landowner to donating a conservation easement? Yes, by
donating a conservation easement the land owner may benefit in several possible ways. The
land owner may be able to reduce federal income, estate, and gift taxes. The donor of a
conservation easement maintains ownership and use of the land and has the right to sell it with
the permanent conservation agreement.
How does Kensington benefit from supporting conservation easements? Conservation to
preserve the land that cleans our air and drinking water, supports local agriculture, absorbs
storm water and carbon dioxide, provides scenic beauty and recreational opportunities benefits
all Kensington residents. Towns support conservation easements to protect the town from the
tax burden created by residential and commercial development that have been shown to raises
taxes through the increase in infrastructure, education, and community services.
Conservation easements on private land. Kensington is fortunate to have many landowners
who have placed conservation easements on their land. The landowner maintains control and
use of the land but the use has to adhere to the easement criteria. Since there are restrictions
on the use of the land, the value of the land has been effectively decreased as development
capabilities have been removed. Agriculture, forestry, and recreation are allowed within the
restriction of most easements and by permission of the landowner. If the property is sold, the
easement criteria remain in the deed and transfer with the sale.
Conservation easements on public land. Public land under a conservation easement is owned
and controlled by the public entity and is required to adhere to the easement’s criteria. As an
example, a large tract of land is owned by a municipality. A conservation easement has been
put in place that restricts development, but down allow for agriculture and/or forestry as long
as supporting plans are in place. What this means is that the town government can use this
land for any town function supporting the forest management (timber harvesting, grassland
expansion, etc.) agriculture (community garden, crop planting, haying, etc.) within the
definitions of the easement. The town cannot use the land for building of commercial or
government structures, parking lots or any other function not allowed by the easement.
The Town has raised funds to work with landowners to conserve land by selling bonds and by
using 25% of the current use change tax.
Charles Hodges Conservation Area – The Charles Hodges Conservation Area encompasses 178
acres of forest, fields, and wetlands on Stumpfield Road. Consulting Forester Charles Moreno
prepared a Forest Management Plan for the property in February 2003. The purpose of the
Plan was to specify forest and natural resource management practices for the next 40 years.
Recommendations are based on Kensington’s objectives to enhance the forest and wildlife
resources of the property while encouraging responsible recreational use of the land by the
Table 15
Conservation Land in Kensington
Source: Town Records
Easement Holder = Town or conservation organization responsible for monitoring land use
restrictions defined in the conservation easement
SPNHF = Society of Protection NH Forests
SELTNH = Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire
RCCD = Rockingham County Conservation District
? = Conservation Commission researching records
Parcel Name
Owned or
Town Owned
Judith Pease
Great Meadows
Tax Map and Lot
Recorded at
Registry of
2/4/1987 or
Charles Hodges
Jessie York
38.0, plus 15.0
in Hampton
Alan Tuthill and
Kathyrn Fessenden
Alan Lewis, KLC
James and Joan
Asset Title
Great Brook
Conservation Area
Meeting House Hill
Meeting House Hill
Nora Tuthill
148.5, plus
27.5 in South
26.0, plus 26.0
in Exeter
Lampert Trust
Steve and Ann
Carl Rezendes
Peter Sawyer
Richard Parker
54, plus 37 in
Hampton Falls
Davis Finch and
Jean Topping
Barbara Boudreau
and Frederick
McKim Yarley
Marilyn Bott
2.3, plus 136.5
in East
James Query and
Elizabeth Bates
Paul and Marion
Nancy and George
Recommendations regarding Conservation Land:
Increase the funding for the purchase of land and/or conservation easements by utilizing
100 % of the change of use tax (current use) funds collected by the Town and other funding
Promote the many benefits of land conservation to land owners through education via the
town newsletter and website and workshops with conservation organizations.
Work closely with landowners interested in conserving their land and work with
conservation organizations to provide technical assistance.
Prioritize properties for conservation.
VIII. Current Use Assessment
NH RSA 79-Current Use Assessment provides a property tax incentive to all qualifying
landowners who agree to maintain their land in an undeveloped condition. Current Use is the
cornerstone of the state's land conservation efforts, with over half the land in New Hampshire
is enrolled in this valuable program. A review of 2011 property tax cards for the Town
identified 126 properties enrolled in Current Use, totaling 4,065 acres, slightly more than half of
the town’s total acreage.
The minimum requirements for land to be enrolled in the Current Use program are:
• 10 or more acres of land that is undeveloped and with no structures;
• A tract of wetland of any size less than 10 acres;
• A certified Tree Farm of any size;
• A tract of undeveloped land of any size that is actively devoted to the growing of
agricultural or horticultural crops have an annual gross income from the sale of crops
totaling at least $2,500.
It is important to note that land enrolled in current use is not deed restricted and may be
eligible for development. For more information, visit
Trails and Recreation on Town Owned Land
A trail network exists throughout Town owned land, allowing recreational, non-motorized,
sustainable activities such as biking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. There are two main
trails networks on Town owned land on the Charles Hodges property and Meeting House Hill.
Access to the trails is available from French’s Lane, Osgood Road, Stumpfield Road, and
Moulton Ridge Road.
• Promote knowledge of public trails through guided walks.
There is a history of trail use in Kensington. Some trails cross public and private land. An
effort should be made to obtain approval from private land owners to continue use of
some of those trails as has already been done in some areas for snowmobiles.
Regional and Statewide Natural Resource Inventories
There have been two reports completed in New Hampshire that provide communities with
useful information regarding the types and locations of wildlife and the habitats required by
wildlife. Information from these reports is included in this NRI to provide Kensington with
information that may be useful in land use planning and conservation.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) - The 2005 NH Wildlife Action Plan
(WAP) is the most comprehensive wildlife assessment ever completed in New Hampshire,
identifying 123 species and 27 habitats across the state in greatest need of conservation. The
purpose of the WAP is to provide decision makers with information that encourages sustainable
development in sensitive wildlife areas, and considers proactive strategies for land protection.
Wildlife habitat is categorized in the following ways in the WAP:
Tier 1 – Highest quality wildlife habitat in NH
Tier 2 – Highest quality wildlife habitat in a biological region, geographical areas with
similar physical characteristics that influence biology
Tier 3 – Supporting landscapes, described in the Plan as follows, “Supporting Landscapes
consists of the upland part of the watershed for surface waters, some very intact forest
blocks, some known locations of WAP species and some locations of exemplary natural
Table 16
Summary of Wildlife Action Plan Habitat Tiers
2005 Plan, data updated 2010
Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
1,247 acres
16.2% of land in Kensington
500.3 acres
6.5% of land in Kensington
1,769.1 acres
23.1% of land in Kensington
It is important to note that over 16% of land in Kensington is classified by NH Fish and Game as
Tier 1 – the highest quality habitat in the state
Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds - The overarching goal of
the Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds (Plan) is to focus
conservation on those lands and waters that are most important for conserving living resources
– native plants, animals, and natural communities – and water quality in the coastal
watersheds. The Plan is intended to achieve the following purposes:
Identify and describe a portfolio of areas that represent the best remaining
opportunities to conserve the critical ecological, biological, and water resources of NH’s
coastal watershed.
Identify and describe a set of voluntary and regulatory land conservation strategies
available for protecting the important areas.
To develop the Coastal Conservation Plan, data from the WAP as well as other sources were
used and resulted in 75 Conservation Focus Areas in the 46 communities in the coastal
watershed. Kensington is part of five Conservation Focus Areas, described below. The Land
Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds may be found at the following
Great Meadows Conservation Focus Area – The Great Meadows Conservation Focus
Area encompasses 1,400 acres in Kensington and Exeter. The focus area includes two
plants of conservation concern, Climbing Hempweed and Large Bur-reed, two animals of
conservation concern, an abandoned Great Blue Heron rookery and the Least Bittern.
Significant wildlife habitats include floodplain forest, grassland, marshland, and
peatland. Exemplary natural communities and systems include Appalachian oak-sugar
maple forest, swamp white oak floodplain forest, and tall graminoid emergent marsh.
The Sedge Wren was last found in the Kimball Road area. The focus area also includes
320 acres of prime farmland and 40 acres of farmland of statewide importance.
Upper Great Brook Conservation Focus Area – The Upper Great Brook Conservation
Focus Area encompasses 540 acres in Kensington and East Kingston. Significant wildlife
habitats in the focus area are grassland, marsh and peatland. Swamp white oak
floodplain forest also exists here on several properties. There are 145 acres of prime
farmland and 65 acres of farmland of statewide importance.
Taylor River and The Cove Conservation Focus Area – The Taylor River and The Cove
Conservation Focus area encompasses 2,420 acres in Kensington, Exeter, Hampton Falls
and Hampton. The focus area includes one plant of conservation concern, the smallcrested Sedge, and one animal of conservation concern, an abandoned Great Blue
Heron rookery. Significant wildlife habitats include floodplain forest, grassland, marsh,
and peatland.
Upper Taylor River Conservation Focus Area – The Upper Taylor River Conservation
Focus Area encompasses 440 acres in Kensington and Hampton Falls. Significant wildlife
habitats include grassland, marsh and peatland. The focus areas includes 85 acres of
prime farmland soils and 101 acres of farmland of statewide significance.
Muddy Pond Conservation Focus Area – The Muddy Pond Conservation Focus Area
encompasses 160 acres in Kensington. The Focus Area includes one plant of
conservation concern, the Bulbous Bitter Cress, and two animals species of conservation
concern, the Spotted Turtle and the Redfin Pickerel. Significant wildlife habitats include
grassland, marsh, quaking bog and peat. Exemplary natural communities and systems
include circumneutral seepage swamp. This focus area also include the Winkley Brook
Climate Change and Adaptation Planning
Kensington, like communities across New Hampshire and the county, is experiencing a change
in climate. These changes are most evident in increased storm intensity. A 2007 report by the
Union of Concerned Scientists, Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Science,
Impacts, and Solutions included a six-page summary of specific climate impacts for New
Hampshire. Many of the impacts are similar to those identified for the entire Northeast region.
The UCS indicates that as global warming continues, New Hampshire will see:
Increases in the number of days over 90° F from ten per year between 1961 and
1990 to between thirty and seventy days per year by late century.
Increases in the number of days over 100° F from one per year between 1961 and
1990 to between six and twenty-three days per year by late century.
Increases in winter precipitation of about 20 to 30%, featuring less snow and more
rain or mixed precipitation.
Decreases in winter snow season of 16 to 50%.
Earlier river and lake-ice breakup.
Earlier blooming dates for lilacs, dogwoods, willows, magnolias, and other plants.
Increases in major flooding events.
Increased frequency of short-term (one to three months) drought, with annual
droughts under the higher emissions scenario and droughts every two to three years
under lower emissions scenarios.
Increased length of the growing season.
Increased frequency of about 400% of poor air quality days in larger cities.
In addition, maple season has moved from starting traditionally in early March to well into April
to starting by late January and sap flowing off and on all winter. Some years with little or no
snow the shorter maple season is ending as early as March. These impacts have the ability to
affect the economy and tourist industry in the state, quality of life, and overall regional
The NH Department of Environmental Services has compiled the following list of impacts to
natural resources as a result of climate change:
Cold Water Fisheries - An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study for New England
indicated that some states could potentially lose all habitats important for cold-water fish.
Estimates as high as a 50% loss was predicted for northern New Hampshire, and even higher in
southern New Hampshire especially for native brook trout. The temperatures of streams in
New Hampshire may increase to levels exceeding tolerances for most cold-water fish such as
native brook trout, and introduced brown, and rainbow trout. Warm water fish may have
difficulty moving into vacated cold-water fish habitats because they are unable to tolerate fast
stream rates. Temperature is critical to reproduction in many cold-water fish species. Thus,
even though some adult fish may tolerate higher stream temperatures, they will not reproduce
Forest Resources - Disturbances to tree health, such as north and pest and pathogen outbreaks,
flooding, and wind damage are expected to increase, potentially resulting in the death of a
large number of trees and forests. Extreme events such as periods of winter thaw followed by
intense cold, spring and summer drought, and summer heat stress, have been associated with
die-backs and declines in several northern hardwood species (e.g., Sugar Maple, White Ash,
Yellow Birch) in New England. The expected rise in the frequency of these weather events also
threatens the health of New Hampshire’s forests. UCS reports that a higher emissions scenario
could create a climate completely unsuitable for existing spruce/fir forests and cause a
significant decline in maple, beech, and birch forests. Areas suitable for New Hampshire’s
hemlock trees could shrink by 20 to 40% by late century. In general, ecological models predict
that warmer temperatures and extreme weather events associated with climate change would
move optimal conditions for the growth of northern hardwood forest species northwards by at
least 100 to 300 miles.
Agricultural Resources - The increased frequency of drought would have a detrimental effect
on the small but increasingly vibrant and growing agriculture sector in New Hampshire.
Increasing summer temperatures and heat stress could reduce crop yields and quality,
especially for cool weather crops and non-drought resistant species. Northward expansion of
certain varieties of weeds and agricultural insect and blight pests puts additional pressure on
farmers to use pesticides and herbicides or places the burden of additional labor on organic
farms that choose not to.
Wetlands- Climate change is predicted to result not only in an increased frequency and
intensity of severe storm events, but also in longer, more frequent drought periods in the late
summer and early fall. Wetland areas would be vulnerable to both types of weather extremes.
In the event of severe storms, wetland areas are likely to be hit with flash floods. This could
cause erosion and damage to fragile areas of wetlands, such as stream banks or water inlets to
lakes and ponds. Flash flood, along with increasing development, would also bring a great deal
of silt and sediment into the wetlands, increasing their turbidity and decreasing their
functionality. This is happening now in some of our streams and brooks and wetland basins,
which are now serving as silt detention basins. An increase in the amount of water entering
wetlands may also cause them to reach their water-holding capacity, breaching their
boundaries and exacerbating flood problems further downstream. Conversely, wetlands are
also in danger of decreasing in number and size. With an increase in droughts and a decrease in
the amount of water recharging the wetland areas during the summer and fall months, some of
them may become severely degraded or simply dry up. Since wetlands assist in stormwater
filtration and flood control, the impact development has upon existing wetlands should also be
considered. In general, the loss of natural wetlands tends to be a result of development that
removes wetland areas and increases impervious surfaces. As changes in climate occur, the
severity of the degradation of wetlands is expected to increase as a result of previous human
Plant Communities - The natural plant communities currently found in and around Kensington
are greatly threatened by the effects of climate change. Some plant species, such as the sugar
maple, are already dying off and shifting northward because they cannot adapt to a warmer
climate zone. If the climate in Kensington becomes warmer, which is a predicted result of
climate change, northern plant species are threatened with death in the southern portion of
their natural growing climate ranges. Kensington’s plant communities are also vulnerable to the
introduction of new pests—pests that were once controlled (at least to some extent) by cold
winters. Thus, invasive exotic plants (e.g., phragmites, purple loosestrife, Japanese knotweed)
already present in New Hampshire may be able to invade more vigorously. Similarly, insects,
such as the hemlock wooly adelgid, may be able to travel northward and survive. Pests such as
this bug have been known to change an entire forest ecosystem by killing the trees they live on.
Kensington’s natural communities are also vulnerable to extreme weather events due to the
damage, or even mortality, they cause to trees and plants. Ice storms can cause tree limbs and
the crowns of trees to break, which can result in the death of a tree. Similarly, erratic freezethaw patterns leave Kensington’s plants vulnerable to leaf mortality or a reduction in
reproduction success because their buds and flowers could be damaged by cold temperatures
and therefore fail. An early spring thaw followed by a snow storm, for example, could kill buds
that had “mistakenly” begun to open. This type of event is happening with increase frequency
Animal Communities - Animal species depend directly on the habitats in which they live. With
so many changes likely to occur to Kensington’s plant communities, the animals that are
dependent on them are also vulnerable. Species dependent on wetland areas, hemlock stands,
etc., will be vulnerable to a loss of habitat. Similarly, animals will be vulnerable to a loss of food
sources, not only because of the disappearance of some plant species but also because of a
difference in food availability patterns. For example, some short lived plants that provide
animals with the food they need to survive in the spring after a long, cold winter may begin to
bloom and die before the animals are ready to forage on them. Animals, especially birds,
migrating to and through Kensington may miss bugs that appear during the spring thaw
because their migration timing is dependent on the availability of light rather than the increase
in spring temperatures. An increase in erratic weather may also result in higher mortality rates
of animals as a direct result of quick changes in temperature or severe storm events. This is
especially true of young animals. For example, an increase in the frequency and intensity of
storms may result in spring weather that is too wet and cold for young bird species to live
through. Some animals will likely be affected by these impacts more than others and this will
only serve to further disrupt the natural, ecological balance.
Kensington enjoys generous natural resources which will continue to thrive under proper
stewardship. Given its unique setting among communities that have experienced much greater
development, residents’ actions now will make sure that these resources flourish and endure.
This effort will reap everlasting benefits for the town and the entire region.
The Kensington Conservation Commission recommends the following actions to further protect
natural resources in the community:
Establish a Conservation Overlay Zoning District requiring open space subdivisions
within the District.
Increase code enforcement of existing and future land use regulations.
Require a 100’ buffer to protect wetlands.
Increase the funding for the purchase of land or conservation easements by utilizing
100% of the change use tax.
Reduce road width requirements for subdivisions to reduce impervious surfaces and the
resultant stormwater runoff.
The Kensington Conservation Commission looks forward to working with the Board of
Selectmen, the Planning Board, and residents on the protection and stewardship of the natural
resources in the community.

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