Friday, May 14, 2010

It's not your land unless you know it

Behind my back lots is a good sized piece of woodland. It's owned by a company with a nice sounding New England name. One day I tried to find out who actually owned it. After breaking through one shell company after another, eventually my search ended when I hit a wall of oriental characters. Apparently some Asian company somewhere is the ultimate owner.

No doubt someday they will hire a logging company to harvest the timber on it. At least, that might be their plan.

In the mean time, it's more my land than theirs. I walk it and I know it. In the winter it's a great place to go snowshoeing. Eventually, I run into cross country skies tracks. That guy knows the land too. It's sort of his territory from the cross country trail all the way back to where he's put up a deer stand. I hunt the lower part of the woodlot during bow season.

Near my property it's mostly sugar maple, then runs into a strip of spruce. South of that is a patch of wetlands. On a sunny fall day, that strip of spruce is a good place to find a grouse. An occasional rabbit inhabits the marshy area. A moose travels through on the remains of an old logging road. Deer visit the edge of an old cutting. Woodpeckers and bard owls live there. Occasionally tracks from a fisher can be seen. Bears hang out there in the spring.

That patch of land is one of my emergency sources of firewood. I don't cut down any living trees, but there are plenty of branches dropped. Storms topple the occasional tree. It's all downhill from that woodlot to my woodstove. It's good to have wood in walking distance.

Back in medieval times, kings had their hunting preserves that were off limits to the peasant folk. Poachers were severely punished. Still, there were poachers. Having no kings in my background, there most likely were poachers. I'd like to think so anyway. That extra protein from the occasional rabbit or deer is one of the reasons they lived to be my ancestors. The fact that they passed on their genes is a good indication they didn't get caught.

It was the king's land, but only so far as his sheriffs could keep the riff raff out. (my beloved ancestors) Those Asian investors have no sheriffs. to keep me out. Actually, the way New Hampshire laws works, it's to their advantage to allow access to the land. One of the conditions for getting a current use tax break is to allow recreational access. It's legal for me to go tromping around there with a shotgun in hand.

I've been getting more use of the land than the so called owners have. That's fine by me. They can pay the taxes. Sure, one day they may log part of it. Should that happen, I'll be sad, but trees grow back. In the mean time, deer are attracted to the new growth in the cut area. Raspberries will soon sprout up. Logging jobs leave behind a lot of slash that burns just fine in my stove.

Should things get really bad, those guys all the way out in Asia will have very little say in what happens in my backyard, on the land I know and they don't.


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