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Major Wildlife Habitats in the Cold River Watershed

River Mouth
Deer Yards

River Mouth:

According to Payne's Resource Inventory of the Cold River Corridor several species of birds listed as endangered or threatened have confirmed sightings near the mouth of the Cold River where the confluence with the Connecticut River results in an abundance of the fish resource on which they depend. Species recorded in this area either by the Audubon Society of New Hampshire or in the Atlas of Breeding Birds in New Hampshire include the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Cooper's hawk, northern harrier and osprey.


Cold River wetlands   Log in River


Deer Yards:

The Cold River corridor provides essential winter deer habitat for the region's deer population. The valley's hillsides, along with those of the tributary streams, provide the combination of topography and vegetation needed by deer for winter survival. Ted Walski of NH Fish & Game reported the following after his fieldwork surveying deeryards in the early 1980's:

The entire length of the ColdRiver was probably once deer yarding cover. The lower third of the drainage has now been eliminated for winter deer use because of human development in the Drewsville-AlsteadVillage area and because of the Whitcomb Sand & Gravel operation near the junction with the Connecticut River. The 9 miles through Acworth are still good because human development is still not significant and because the slopes along the river and Rte 123A are quite steep.

(Walski, NH Fish & Game Inter-Department Communication, 1982)

Deer yard maps have been published by NH Fish & Game for Walpole, Langdon and Alstead. As shown on the maps, deer wintering habitats can be found north of the River's mouth and spanning the River just upstream from the mouth in Langdon. In addition, two very large areas of deer wintering habitat have been mapped in Langdon.

Although not yet published, deer yards have been surveyed in Acworth by Ted Walski of NH Fish & Game resulting in the finding that the Cold River corridor is the focus for deer winter habitat in the watershed. The concentration of deeryards along the Cold River that Walski described is as follows:

Acworth has perhaps a unique deer yarding phenomenon in that 8 of its 11 deer yards are along the ColdRiver Drainage and most of the deer yard is in the southern 25% of the town as a result. The narrow valley carved out by the ColdRiver has virtually continuous softwood cover along both sides of the river. Hemlock is very prevalent and the spruce-fir also helps to provide winter cover.
(Walski, NH Fish & Game Inter-Department Communication, 1982)

Walski also notes that as a result, Acworth is probably the town in Sullivan County with the most deeryards and number of wintering deer.

The same softwood cover needed by deer for winter survival also provides habitat for the fisher. Fish & Game biologist Ted Walski reported that fisher tracks were common in almost all of the deeryards surveyed. (Walski also reported the presence of two good rabbit covers in East Acworth although no area he surveyed had an abundance of hare sign.)


Wetlands of substantial size are associated with the River through much of Lempster downstream to East Acworth. One large Cold River wetland is located in the extreme northwest corner of Lempster in an area of hydric soil, while another stretches from below the Unity Springs Road in Lempster down through Keyes Hollow to East Acworth. Utilizing the hydric soils shown on the "Soil Attributes" map as an indicator, it can be seen that several other stretches of the River have smaller wetland systems associated with them, and many other large wetland systems are located throughout the watershed.

Wetlands associated with the River and its tributaries provide important habitat for a variety of species such as beaver, moose and waterfowl. Payne describes the particular importance of the Cold River wetlands for migrating waterfowl and other birds:

During spring and fall migrations, the marshes found in the upper reaches of the ColdRiver are used by local species such as mallards and wood ducks for cover and feeding areas as they funnel towards the migration route that follows the Connecticut River. The grasses and fruiting shrubs found here also provide a food source for migrating songbirds heading south in the fall

...In the spring the marshes mentioned above provide succulent sprouts and insect larvae for waterfowl as they either pass through to more northern areas or seek nesting sites in the river corridor.

(Resource Inventory of the Cold River Corridor, Douglas G. Payne, August 1996)

Species such as moose, bear and deer tend to follow either rivers or ridge lines as travel corridors. NH Fish & Game's Director of Nongame Wildlife John Kanter notes that river corridors such as the Cold River are natural features that these wide ranging animals tend to use to go between seasonal habitat areas. Residents report increasing sightings of bear and moose moving within the corridor. The River itself is essential for the movement of river otter, mink, beaver and other species dependent on aquatic habitat.