Last Sunday Hikes – next one Feb. 23

Every last Sunday of the month we will host a hike on our conservation land. Details will be here, on Facebook, and in The Courier and Littleton Record. The inaugural hike of this series was from the Foss Forest parking area on Pearl Lake Road in Sugar Hill, up through the Bronson Hill Conservation Area and to the cabin (not on ACT land, but a favorite place to visit. About a dozen people and lots of dogs participated on a splendid sunny day. Thanks to Lynn Bart for sharing her photos!Image 13

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Monthly Winter Hikes Start Sunday!

Looking for a few friends, old and new, to enjoy the winter woods? Then please join us  on an easy winter walk at our  Foss Forest in Sugar Hill on Sunday, January 26 at 1 p.m.

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Everyone is welcome!

The hike will start from the Pearl Lake Road parking area, which is located 1.3 miles west of the intersection of Route 117 and Pearl Lake Road in Sugar Hill.  Going from Sugar Hill toward Lisbon, the access is on the left, and will be identified by the hike leader’s red Toyota Prius.  Coming from Lisbon, the access is on the right.

We’re counting on snow by then, so you’ll want to bring your snowshoes or boot Trax, children, dogs, and cameras, and be prepared to be out for about 90 minutes. This will be an easy hike through moderate terrain with great views.

The hike on January 26 will be the first of a series of outings on ACT conservation land to be held on the last Sunday of each month. Now is a wonderful time to explore the terrain of the forest and to enjoy the views, unimpeded by foliage and blackflies! With snow it’s also a great time for animal tracking.

For more information, contact ACT via email at office@aconservationtrust.org or call 838-6520.

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News! Outstanding Gift to ACT and the North Country: the Gale Family Forest

A remarkably generous gift of land has been established as the Gale Family Forest in Lyman.

ACT received the donation of 167 acres from Christopher and Pamela Gale of Charlottesville, Va.

“We love this land, and 50 years ago when we bought it we thought we’d build our retirement home there,” said Chris Gale. “But when we realized that was not in the cards, we wanted it to be taken care of and loved by someone else, and ACT showed us that they were it.”

A remote beaver pond on the Gale Family Forest.

A remote beaver pond on the Gale Family Forest.

The land is mostly forested but also has a hay field high above Partridge Lake, which appears in the distance. The forest has been managed for timber over the years, most recently by New England Forestry Consultants. A snowmobile trail and many walking trails run through it. The property is located at the corner of Hurd Hill and Gannon roads in Lyman, near the town boundary with Littleton. The land was once farmed by the Hurd family, and later the Hubbard family.

“This is a magnificent forest, and shows what you can do with good management,” said ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown. “This will be an excellent place to show that you can grow good timber, have wonderful recreational trails, and an abundance of wildlife. It’s really interesting topography shaped by the glaciers, with eskers running throughout and some unusual plants and tree species living there. We look forward to doing animal tracking this winter and bird and amphibian surveys in the spring to see what’s out there.”

Grafton County Forester Dave Falkenham helps ACT assess the timber on the proposed gift of land, in June 2013.

Grafton County Forester Dave Falkenham helps ACT assess the timber on the proposed gift of land, in June 2013.

The Gale Family Forest will be a long-term source of income for ACT, Brown explained. “In addition to this being a wonderful place for people to enjoy, this is a fantastic gift for ACT, as over the years proceeds from timber harvested here will help fund other conservation projects. This is truly a gift that will keep on giving.”

ACT plans to create parking for walking trail access to the property, and will develop a trails map. Anyone interested in helping with the GIS work and trail mapping is encouraged to contact ACT at office@aconservationtrust.org  or call 823-7777.

 

ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown walking the land in summer, 2013, imagining what a great place this will be for ACT.

ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown walking the land in summer 2013, imagining what a great place this will be for ACT.

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4th Graders Visit Cooley-Jericho

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Fourth graders from the Lafayette Regional School in Franconia recently visited the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest to learn about New Hampshire’s logging history. This was a great use of the new community forest led by County Forester Dave Falkenham.

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Using a Biltmore stick to measure tree diameter.

The 18 students from Garret Ferguson’s class learned how to estimated the circumference of a tree using a Biltmore stick, which ties into classroom learning on pi and calculating area and volume.  They also learned about the how tree species grow back after harvesting.

Having local students use the forest as an outdoor classroom as well as for recreation is a huge reason why we created the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest.

We invite teachers from all the area’s schools to consider the Forest as a place for studying natural history and the sciences as well as the arts!

 

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Cooley-Jericho Celebration

Early morning clouds lifted and it turned into a gorgeous day Oct. 13 for the inaugural hike on the new Cooley-Jericho Community Forest. Over 50 people, plus assorted canines, hiked up two routes and met at Cole Hill, the highest point on the forest. This is New Hampshire’s newest community forest and the first in the nation to involve four separate towns and a land trust – ACT – all working together to make it happen.

Later in the day many of the hikers plus a whole lot of other people gathered for a splendid community potluck supper at the Easton Town Hall.

More photos are at townforest.org

Young gentlemen Bordac and Kenerson Cooley-Jericho Community ForestCooley-Jericho Community ForestCooley-Jericho Community Forest

Cooley-Jericho Community Forest

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Celebrate the Forest! Hike & Community Potluck Sunday Oct. 13

Thanks to our stalwart friends who cleared a new trail on the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest!

We cleared a new route up the summit of Cole Hill. This will be part of the loop hike next Sunday, Oct. 13.

Sunday October 13: 2 great ways to celebrate the new forest – everyone is invited!

Hike the Forest  – meet at 10 a.m at the end of Dyke Road in Sugar Hill.

Community Potluck – 5 p.m. at the Easton Town Hall. More details are at www.townforest.org

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Great News! The Forest is Ours

I’m thrilled to let you know that  we just closed on the 844 acres that becomes the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest in Easton. This new  community forest helps the communities of Easton, Franconia, Landaff, and Sugar Hill permanently protect this special place, benefit from the economic proceeds from timber sales, and enjoy public access to the forest.

toward Pearl Lake

View toward Pearl Lake, Lisbon

The property is 844 acres in the northwestern corner of Easton, sharing boundaries with Sugar Hill and Landaff. Highlighted by the prominent ridge lines of Cole Hill and Cooley Hill, this upland forest is one of the highest elevations and largest privately-owned properties in the western White Mountains. It is spectacularly beautiful and rugged with stunning views. Recreational opportunities abound for hiking, mountain biking, and back-country skiing. The previous owner had proposed both windmills and large lot subdivisions for this tract.

Thanks to all the volunteers from six towns who worked tirelessly to make this happen! 

Forest Service Hike

Forest Service Hike

Thanks to our many friends and funders, without whom this never would have been possible. We were very fortunate to receive major funding from the federal Community Forest &  Space program, which rated our forest #1 in the country; from the Open Space Institute; New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP); New Hampshire’s Moose Plate conservation grant program; the Davis Conservation Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, and the McIninch Foundation; from the towns of Easton, Franconia, Landaff, and Sugar Hill; and from  the Northern Forest Center, which supported the work of one of their staff specialists who helped us tremendously.

And we especially extend our heartfelt and deepest thanks to ACT members and new contributors, whose generosity was an essential to this long and multi-facteed project. The Cooley-Jericho Community Forest introduces a new ownership model to New Hampshire. ACT  will own the property on behalf of the four communities. Each of the towns contributed to the purchase of the property, and will proportionately share in eventual revenue generated.

From Lover's Lane, Sugar Hill

From Lover’s Lane, Sugar Hill

In the meantime, this land presents fantastic recreational and wildlife opportunities. We invite you to come explore it – starting Sunday, October 13 when we will have a community hike followed by a barbecue at the Easton Town Hall. Details will be announced soon!

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Bird Walk and Hike Sunday May 26

Everyone is invited to come explore the proposed Cooley – Jericho Community Forest on Sunday, May 26. This will be a great time to see this magnificent land and see some of the birds breeding there.

The hike will start at 9 a.m. the end of Dyke Road (heading west, up hill) in Sugar Hill. We’ll walk up the Class VI road and then a gravel road into Landaff, and then up into the community forest property on old skid roads.  Plan for about 3 hours.

Canada warbler

Canada warbler

The proposed Cooley – Jericho Community Forest is 840 acres of young forest with patches of mature spruce and fir – perfect for bird species including Canada warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, woodpeckers, hawks, and animals including bear, moose, bobcat, and American marten.

The towns of Easton, Franconia, Landaff, and Sugar Hill all voted to support the acquisition of the property for permanent conservation and public recreation at their towns meetings this March. The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust has been working with local residents who represent user groups including mountain biking and backcountry skiing to raise the funds to purchase the property.

According to ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown, the fund raising campaign is nearing its goal to close on the property early this summer, and there will be a final push to raise the necessary funds in the next few weeks.

For Sunday’s hike, kids and dogs are welcome! Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and bug dope, and binoculars and a bird guide if you have them. Also please bring your 4-wheel drive vehicle, which gives us the option of driving up part of the way to the property.

For more information, please see www.townforest.org, or call ACT volunteer Angela Broscoe at cell # (978) 828-5903.

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ACT Joins National Insurance Program

We announced a few months ago that we are now a nationally accredited land trust. One of the benefits of this for ACT  is that we automatically qualify for a new, national insurance program to help protect land forever.  seal_green

The program is through a first-of-its-kind liability insurance company, called Terrafirma, which was created to help small, nonprofit land trusts like ours cover potentially costly court battles to defend conservation lands.

ACT accepts conservation easements from private landowners. We also accept donations of property for us to own as conservation land. In both these instances, ACT makes a promise to fulfill the wishes of the donating family, and to protect these lands permanently for the benefit of our region and communities. This is why we create a legal defense and stewardship fund for each property we conserve.

But given the high costs of litigation, the land trust community nationwide realized that these stewardship and legal defense funds need to be augmented, and the idea of Terrafirma took shape. Being a member of Terrafirma and its national umbrella of protection enhances our financial and legal resources to defend our promise of permanent stewardship and legal defense of our conservation land. Going through the accreditation process as we did was proof enough to the insurers that our projects are well documented and well managed, so our nearly 3,000 acres of conserved land was enrolled into the insurance program which started this year.

 

 

 

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Snowshow Hike and Animal Tracking this Sunday

Everyone is invited to join a snowshoe hike on the proposed Cooley-Jericho Community Forest this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m.

The hike will start from the parking area at the end of Trumpet Round Road in Sugar Hill. Trumpet Round is off of Jericho Road, which is a left turn as you head uphill on Dyke Road.

American marten

American marten

Bring your snowshoes, camera, kids, and dogs. This hike will be good for people of all ages. It will go uphill through young conifers and a mixed hardwood forest. Moose and deer abound on this land, and we may get lucky and find tracks of bobcat and American marten. If we are exceptionally lucky we may find the track of a lynx.

Smaller than a fisher and stouter than a weasel, American martens (also called pine martens) are a rare and important species in New Hampshire. They were nearly trapped out, but have rebounded after being reintroduced. Their numbers are still small enough, and their status uncertain enough, that they are listed as “threatened” in the state.

According to NH Fish & Game, marten are of particular concern because of their status as an “umbrella species.” Their large range and sensitivity to disturbance make them broad indicators of ecosystem health. Marten have been seen in the vicinity of the community forest, which is 840 acres in Easton with access through Sugar Hill and Landaff. Martens like large tracts of open space.

Sunday is a great opportunity to see the rugged and beautiful land of the proposed community forest, and to get some exercise before the Super Bowl!. A planning committee of residents of Easton, Sugar Hill, Lisbon, Landaff, Bethlehem, and Franconia, along with ACT,  has been working hard to create the community forest and raise funds for its acquisition.

For more information call us at 603-823-7777, e-mail rbrown@aconservationtrust.org, or see www.townforest.org. Please send us an e-mail or leave a phone message that you will be joining the hike (hot chocolate and snacks will be provided) and also so we may contact you in case of really horrid weather. Any last minutes changes will also be on the website.

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