Conservation Journal: Ben

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

January 8, 2018


I recently returned from visiting family in Florida, and it was eye opening. For starters, when I flew back to NH the air temperature effectively dropped 70 degrees over the course of a few hours. This was shocking, to say the least, but I promise I’m still happy to be back. As someone who is lucky enough to be working in the conservation field, however, another aspect of the trip really stood out to me. We spent some time at the state parks in the city, and as we hiked or biked around an overwhelming proportion of the plants and animals we came across were invasive species. I was particularly taken by how many non-native reptiles we saw (iguanas, Cuban anoles, curly-tailed lizards, etc.), but there were invasive species of all different shapes, sizes, and taxonomical classifications. While Miami is significantly different than Holderness (for many, many reasons but particularly because its climactic similarities to the tropical regions many of these invasives originate from) it still struck me as a poignant example of the impact of invasive species. This suite of exotics completely changed the landscape, replacing mangroves with scrubby pine forests or making once common native species a rare site, and were devastating the ecosystems that made Florida special.

This is all to say that it’s a new year, and with it the SLA is working on many new projects related to conserving what we love about Squam, including the threat of invasive species. In particular, terrestrial invasive plants are now in our scope, but we need all the help we can get to make our projects successful. The first step in solving any problem is identifying its extent, to understand the presence of these invasive plants in the watershed. I have been working with the other AmeriCorps members to make the tools to assess these invaders available for our community, to allow volunteers to contribute to the project on their own time. So stay tuned for news about a helpful guide to the terrestrial invasives in the Squam Region, using your smart phone to report their locations, and programs where you can get directly involved in invasive removal efforts. I’m not saying you have to make it your new years resolution, but I bet it’d be easier to learn what Japanese Barberry or Oriental Bittersweet looked like than it would be to give up chocolate! The choice is yours.

Ben is from Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a degree in Biology. Click here to read Ben's bio.

Join Ben for a guided hike up Eagle Cliff Trail to the top Red Hill on January 20th. Learn more by clicking here.