We’ve had the singular pleasure of getting to know Daphne Godfrey over the last several years as we’ve worked with her to conserve her land in Lyman. We were fortunate enough to be introduced to Daphne through the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, who referred her to us. Her neighbor up the road had conserved her land , and Daphne wanted to do the same. And she did! The Godfrey Memorial Conservation Area is now established, thanks to her generosity, vision, and stick-to-itiveness!
Daphne proudly notes that she was born on the 45th Parallel, in Clarksville, NH. She attributes her land ethic and love of wildlife with her father, Harry Hurlbert, a famed North Country game warden and guide. To be a good steward and caretaker of the land was “what you were supposed to do,” she says. “Conservation was always in our mind with Dad.”
Daphne and her late husband, George, bought the 160-acre former dairy farm in the 1960s. “We were gone 25 years after World War II, and I missed my mountains when we worked in Ohio,” Godfrey explains. She and George met at UNH, when she was studying to become a teacher and he was getting his doctorate in poultry genetics. They moved to the Midwest for his work, and always longed to get back to New Hampshire.
They found the perfect spot: a 160-acre hill farm in Lyman with stunning views of the White Mountains, open fields, a surrounding woodlot, and plenty of wildlife. There was even a goldmine. The former Dodge Mine was one of the most active in the 19th century heyday of the Ammonoosuc Gold District. Today the forest has reclaimed the area, making it tricky to find. But a century ago, it was crawling with activity.
Four generations of Godfreys now enjoy the farm. Daphne was careful in planning her conservation agreement with ACT to provide for a site on which her daughters or grandchildren may build their own house. This summer, she anticipates that her grandson Scott, who lives in New Mexico, will visit with his family, and that they will learn about caring for the forest through a careful timber harvest.
The Godfrey Memorial Conservation Area also provides critical habitat for bats. Bats have been know to hibernate in a cave just off the Godfrey property, and the NH Fish & Game Department considers the Godfrey forests and fields of critical importance for bats feeding in the autumn as they prepare to hibernate. A major wintering cave, or hibernacula, is on Gardner Mountain, a couple of miles away from the Godfrey land. The caves and 1,100 acres of working forestland on Gardner Mountain has been conserved by ACT.