State Owned Reservations
State lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) are referred to as "reservations" by state law. RSA 227-G:2 defines "reservation" as public land under DNCR including, but not limited to: state forest, state park, natural area, historic site, geologic site, recreation trail, memorial area, fire tower, wayside area, heritage park, resource center, agricultural area, state forest nursery, fish pier, administrative facility, information center, demonstration forest, certain islands, and lands under lease to the department.
Reservations total 201,513 acres consisting of 221 properties in 145 towns distributed throughout the state. Reservation sizes range from .1 acre for Endicott Rock Historic Site at Weirs Beach in Laconia to 39,601 acres in Nash Stream Forest in Columbia, Odell, Stark, and Stratford. Average size is 772 acres.
State Parks and Forests
State Parks are properties with developed or otherwise specific recreation uses available for visitors. Most offer many activities such as swimming, hiking, camping, picnicking, and hunting but not necessarily to the exclusion of other uses such as timber management, water resource protection and wildlife habitat management.
State Forests are properties associated with undeveloped forest land managed for many uses including demonstrations of sound forestry practices, public access for forest-based recreation, protection of threatened and endangered species, preservation of historic resources and rural culture, and conservation of biological diversity.
State parks and forests are open for public use and managed for a multiplicity of uses. Some state parks contain forestland managed for timber, all state forests are open for recreational activities and, some state parks and forests have natural preserves and sites of geologic and historic interest. Bear Brook State Park, for example, in the towns of Allenstown, Deerfield, Candia and, Hooksett offers developed and undeveloped recreation (e.g. woods roads and skid trails for hiking), wildlife and natural preserves, and timber management areas.
Other lands include conservation easements and reservations, not associated with a state park or forest, managed or operated for a specific purpose or program. Examples of other lands include Chesterfield Gorge Natural Area (13 acres) in Chesterfield, Nansen Ski Jump (8 acres) in Berlin, Frost Farm Historical Site (64 acres) in Derry, and the Urban Forestry Center (182 acres) in Portsmouth.
Land Classification of State Parks and Forests
Every acre of state parks and forests is classified into one of four major land use categories: (1) agricultural lands, (2) conservation easements, (3) forestry lands, and (4) recreation lands. These categories are used for tax purposes under RSA 216-A:3a, 227-H:12 and 227-H:17.
Forestry lands are further classified into key resource areas based on identified forest resource values. Key resource area designation is based on recognized natural values or dominant features such as mountain tops, key sources of wildlife food and cover, scenic areas, cultural and natural heritage features, and water resources. In this manner, management emphasis is on conserving and enhancing the highest and best forest land values for public benefit.