Claremont Conservation Commission

Welcome to the Claremont Conservation Commission's page dedicated to environmental education. Here we will share information of public interest on the environment and to advertise upcoming public events sponsored or hosted by the Commission.

This section on urban trees was taken directly from the 2017 Master Plan.

Urban Trees

The trees that line the City’s streets and grace the City’s cemeteries and parks are also valuable resources.  Urban street trees provide multiple benefits including (but not limited to): 3

  • Traffic calming
  • Safer walking environment
  • Aesthetics
  • Reduces Storm water runoff
  • Rain, sun, heat protection
  • Pollution absorption
  • Lower ambient air temperature in summer
  • Public health
  • Added value to adjacent businesses and homes
  • Longer pavement life
  • Screening

At present, there is no plan, no guideline, and no budget for the management of the City’s urban trees.  (There is a small budget for the removal of dead trees in the City’s rights-of-way.)  The Parks and Recreation Department oversees trees in the City’s parks, while the Public Works Department responds to calls regarding hazard trees and dead trees in the City’s rights-of-way and cemeteries.  However, there is no policy for determining ownership of trees in the right-of-way and no guidelines for determining whether a tree should be removed or not. 

Future Challenges and Opportunities

Claremont’s forest resources are critically important to the City’s character and natural resource inventory.  They warrant continual careful stewardship to improve and maintain their health, beauty and ecological functions and to prevent a future of “benign neglect”.  Therefore, the 2008 Forest Management Plan should be updated right away, beginning with those parcels that have been logged since 2008.  Such updates should be sure to include plans to monitor invasive species in newly opened areas. 

Careful oversight of upcoming “cuts” on the remaining parcels must be provided to ensure adherence to the existing plan.  Public outreach and education is also very important and the Conservation Commission should make every effort to inform the public about present and future plans and activities.

The City’s urban trees also warrant careful stewardship.  The City should create a management plan for the trees in the right-of-way and in the parks and public spaces within the City Center.  A policy and guidelines for managing trees in the rights-of-way outside the City Center and in the City’s cemeteries should also be developed. 

City Center

The City Center would correspond roughly to the extent of the City Center Zoning Districts, which include the CR-1, CR-2, PR, CB-2 and MU zones.

City Center

Forest Resources Goals

Goal 1. Recognize the value of the City’s urban and rural forests in the character and quality of life in the City.

  • Objective 1.1 Improve management of the City’s urban trees

Action Items:

  1. Create a policy and guidelines for management of trees in the public cemeteries and in the public rights-of-way outside of the City Center.
  2. Create a Management Plan for trees in the public spaces of the City Center.

1 Identified as “ecologically significant” in 2013 Natural Resources Inventory.

2 Identified as most important to survey respondents, March 2016

3Urban Street Trees, 22 Benefits, Specific Applications, Dan Burden, 2006,


In November of 2023, the City Council accepted the Tree Policy 2023, which fulfills action items 1 and 2 above.  You can read the plan here.


Natural Resources Inventory

In 2013, the Conservation Commission published the Natural Resources Inventory1 for the City.  In addition to providing an inventory of the City's natural resources, it provided a list of ten ecologically significant areas in the City.  In the coming months, we will use this space to hightlight each of those areas.  


The  final  outcome  of  any  NRI  is  the  identification  of  ecologically   significant areas (ESAs) within the community. ESAs are those areas in the City that exhibit unique ecological characteristics that deserve special attention in terms of land use. This further provides a basis for informed land use planning, recognizing that some areas have high ecological  value based  on the various  attributes present.

ESAs were identified (in Claremont) using a multitude of factors, including landscape-level and site-specific attributes. These included a combination of unfragmented lands, wildlife movement and habitat connectivity, clustering effect of significant habitats that occur in close proximity to one another, presence and  distribution  of  focal  species,  wetlands of high value, presence and distribution of rare elemental occurrences (rare species and exemplary natural communities; see list of known occurrences in Appendix B),  and priorities for conservation developed by the WAP.  These  landscape-level  considerations aid in a more comprehensive approach that recognizes large-scale habitats and ecological processes  within the built  and natural environments.
As  a result  of  the NRI,  11 ESAs  have been  identified.
Traveling east on Route 12 from Ascutney to Claremont, look to your right as you cross the bridge.  You will see the junction (confluence) of the Sugar and Connecticut Rivers and one of Claremont's most special ecosystems - a Floodplain Forest.  This special place is part of ESA 9:
ESA 9 - Sugar River west
Intact forest buffer along Sugar River
Diverse wildlife habitats providing habitat connectivity along Sugar River
Identified in WAP as containing highest ranked habitat
Exemplary natural community - sycamore floodplain forest

This area has been flooded several times this year, starting with spring snow melt and followed by flooding from heavy rains we had during the summer.  

From the UNH website, we can learn why these ecosystems are so special:

Why are Floodplain Forests Important?

floodplain forestsFloodplain forests are unique because of their periodic flooding.
These regular disturbances, which deposit silt and sand along the banks of waterways, help create and maintain unique communities of plants that tolerate flooding and require nutrient-rich soils. Floodplain forests contribute many free ecological services to our society: they help filter pollutants to prevent them from entering streams, improve water quality, are critical in controlling erosion, and help buffer rivers against catastrophic flooding.
Floodplain forests as wildlife habitat
Floodplains are home to a diversity of wildlife. The damp soils create rich insect and amphibian breeding habitats, and these species in turn become prey for birds such as woodcock and barred owl, for mammals such as mink and raccoon, and for reptiles such as smooth green snake and wood turtle. Research in the Connecticut River region has shown that spring flooding thaws the soils of floodplain forests earlier than soils in surrounding areas. This early thaw means that insects become available to birds (as food) earlier in floodplain forests, so birds will feed in, follow, and depend more heavily on floodplain forests than other forested habitats during the early spring migration.
Floodplain forests as corridors
Floodplains provide corridors that allow wildlife to move from one habitat to another, especially in urban areas where development has fragmented alternative travel routes for wildlife. The overhanging canopy in floodplain forests also helps maintain cool waterways in the summer, which helps species such as brook trout.
Conservation Commission member, Eric Zengota, took this photo of Claremont's floodplain forest:
Threats to Floodplain Forests
Agriculture & Development
Human development of floodplain forests permanently eliminates habitat. Building and construction of paved roads may also separate wildlife populations, inhibit migration, create increased predation and promote collisions on roads. Paving areas of native floodplain forests lessens the water-storage capacity of the land, which can cause more frequent and catastrophic floods, with potentially drastic effects on wildlife, people, and communities downstream. Agriculture also has a negative impact on floodplains, but a less permanent one than human development. Over time, agricultural fields may revert to forest, and in their current condition they provide a different kind of habitat (hayfield, cropland) used by many wildlife species.
Impact of Dams
Dams on rivers prevent natural flooding, permanently altering the plant and wildlife communities of floodplain forests downstream. “Run-of-river” dams, which operate using available stream flow, not by storing water behind the dam, allow for normal flow except during periods of high water.
Invasive Plants
Invasive plant species spread easily in the frequent disturbances created by flooding and tend to thrive in the rich soils of floodplain forests. Particularly problematic are Oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed, and black swallow-wort, which can out-compete existing native vegetation, strangle trees or eliminate the tree canopy. Invasive plants may also directly impact floodplain wildlife. Research shows that berries from invasive plants such as bittersweet and buckthorn are lower in nutrition—like junk food for birds—than berries from native shrubs. 
Climate Vulnerabilities for Floodplain Forests
  • Changes in precipitation patterns, such as longer periods of drought, unpredictable large storms, higher flows, and run-off events which can erode areas and change species composition.
  • Increases in invasive species.
  • Slow migration of southern species north.


1Jeffry N. Littleton, Moosewood Ecological LLC., PO Box 9, Chesterfield NH 

Conservation Commission Documents