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Hunter’s Corner: Dock closing, running for rabbits and discovering the outdoors

I got a depressing email from Fish and Game about the Downing’s Landing boat access in Alton. It will be closed April 15-17 while structural engineers assess the condition of the dock to determine future repair needs. This is a smart play by Fish and Game to assure the safety of future anglers who are going to use this facility.

Fish and Game purchased the former private marina at the southern tip of Alton Bay in November of 2012, creating the first public boat access facility on Lake Winnipesaukee. In addition to the fishing dock, the facility includes a boat launch, parking area and opportunities for shore bank fishing.

New Hampshire’s Public Boat Access Program is funded through boat registration fees and federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds. I couldn’t help but wonder, after reading Martin Gross’s outstanding Op Ed piece on the robbing of dedicated funds and the need to take the thieving rascals to court, if we still had time to get the $500,000 that was stolen from the boat access fund restored. At the very least, a pathway has been outlined to prevent future thievery.

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Stonyfield Farm is holding and Earth Day 5K race to benefit the New England Cottontail restoration project. Stonyfield Farm provides habitat for one of the last remaining populations of New England cottontails in New Hampshire.

“The population of New England cottontails occupying the landscape around the Stonyfield site is possibly the largest in the state,” said Heidi Holman, a wildlife biologist with Fish and Game’s Non-game Program and the leader of the cottontail restoration project. “Their collaboration in creating habitat has boosted the population of this endangered rabbit in the area.”

Initially, just two of the 11 acres at the Stonyfield site were suitable for the rabbits, which require thick shrubby growth for food and predator protection. Only one or two native rabbits were documented in the area before work began to make space for young to grow. Four years later, suitable habitat conditions have developed. Today, some 5-10 New England cottontails can be found throughout the entire 11 acres of habitat. Well done, Stonyfield!

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Discover Wild New Hampshire this coming Saturday at Fish and Game Headquarters on Hazen Drive from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The event is on rain or shine and no dogs are allowed, except for service animals. A food concession is available. This is the 24th year of Discover Wild New Hampshire, which began in 1989 as an observance of Earth Day and a celebration of the state’s wealth of natural resources and outdoor recreational opportunities.

This free outdoor festival is fun for all ages; kids can try archery, cast with the “Let’s Go Fishing” program, and create wildlife crafts. Sample a crispy fish fillet or build a bird house. See retrieving dogs in action and prepare to be wowed by live animals, big trout and trained falcons.

Under the big tent, talk to exhibitors from more than 35 outdoor, conservation and environmental groups from throughout New Hampshire. If there is a young person in your immediate or extended family, you need to bring them to this event.

Discover Wild New Hampshire is co-sponsored by N.H. Fish and Game and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (NHDES).

“Citizens of New Hampshire care deeply about our wildlife and conserving their environment,” said Mark Beauchesne, Fish and Game advertising and promotions coordinator. “This event is a fun chance to explore the many ways you can get involved.”

Special presentations and demonstrations will go on throughout the day, including:

11:30 a.m./1:30 p.m.: Turkey calls and turkey calling for kids;

Noon: Animals with bad reputations;

11:30 a.m./1 p.m.: Landscaping for wildlife.

Fish and Game and DES and numerous volunteers take pride in this annual event. It is really a showcase of the very best of New Hampshire.

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Are you ready for some armchair thrills and chills as you run the rapids at the Reel Paddling Film Festival at the Red River Theatres this Thursday at 7 p.m.? The Paddle Fest event includes many of the year’s best paddling films, including whitewater, adventure, canoeing, sea kayaking and instructional. The event is intended to help participants build connections to the larger paddling community as they support a good cause.

N.H. Fish and Game is co-sponsoring with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Tickets are $12 at the door and all who attend the screening will be eligible to win a 2013 Chebeague kayak sponsored by Lincoln Canoe & Kayak of Freeport, Maine.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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