Stewardship tool library breaks barriers

Burley Farms view Epping NH

N.H. volunteer groups can borrow conservation tools

For conservation groups across the Granite State, almost any time can be tool time thanks to the new Seacoast Stewardship Tool Library. A partnership between Nature Groupie (formerly The Stewardship Network: New England) / UNH Cooperative Extension and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (SELT), the library lends everything from pry bars and pruning saws to work gloves and garden rakes. An online lending system makes it easy for volunteer groups, conservation commissions, and other organizations to check out tools for trail maintenance, habitat improvements, and other projects.

“We found that one of the barriers for groups holding volunteer workdays and doing stewardship work was access to tools,” said Emma Tutein, an Extension field specialist in natural resources and land conservation. “Many of the tools we use for trail work and invasive plants are expensive and big and single-purpose, and most people don’t have them at home.”

Tool Volunteer Library 2017

The tool library is located in a barn at the Southeast Land Trust’s Burley Farms property in Epping. Groups can reserve and check-out tools with an online reservation system. The library officially opened on Friday, Nov. 3 with a stewardship-themed ribbon cutting, with loppers and flagging tape standing in for the usual items.

“We were lucky to get generous financial support from two anonymous donors to set up the tool library itself and pay for the tools,” Tutein said. The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with support from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Lamprey River Advisory Council donated some of the library’s tools. Phil Auger, SELT’s land manager, framed out the storage space and worked on the lighting for the library.

After the introductions, Tutein, Emily Lord, Nature Groupie's outreach coordinator, and Malin Clyde, an Extension specialist in community volunteer development and project manager for Nature Groupie, introduced attendees to the library and led a “tool talk” about the library’s items. More than a dozen attendees, many of whom work on local conservation commissions or are Nature Groupie volunteers, got an up-close look at weed wrenches, pry bars, hoes, saws, and the other tools that make stewardship work possible.

Demonstration of tools from stewardship tool library

“I’m just starting to get involved with Nature Groupie,” said Liz Kotowski of Nottingham. She and her husband, Ed, are involved in a number of local stewardship groups. Kotowski is also a member of the Nottingham conservation commission.

“The library will be a definite resource for us. It’s exciting when you have resources like this that make it possible to create proposals for expanding public access to properties. Nottingham has a lot of conservation land and we need to make it more accessible,” she said.

After some snacks and socializing, everyone headed out to the Burley Farms trailhead to put the stewardship tools to use. Attendees wrenched invasive plants like autumn olive and bittersweet from the ground. Clyde and two volunteers used loppers, a weed wrench, and, finally, a mattock to wrestle a large honeysuckle from the ground — a sight that will be more common throughout New Hampshire as groups begin using the library.

Check out the tools available in the Seacoast Stewardship Tool Library and learn more here.