The forest will be managed for non-motorized recreation, wildlife conservation, and sustainable timber harvesting. (Screenshot)
Believed to be the largest unprotected swath remaining in the Mount Washington Valley, 1,250 acres in the towns of Jackson and Bartlett are now conserved in perpetuity.
This week, Trust for Public Land, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, and the state of New Hampshire announced the creation of the Dundee Community Forest, a newly conserved property that connects the White Mountain National Forest and the Tin Mountain Conservation Center’s Jackson Field Station.
The large-scale land protection, consisting of 17 parcels assembled over 60 years by the late William “Mack” Beal, of Jackson, presents new opportunities for trail connectivity and wildlife movement corridors. Beal was a forester, surveyor, and “careful steward who kept the lands open to community use for hiking, hunting, and cross-country skiing,” according to a press release this week.
The forest will be managed for non-motorized recreation, wildlife conservation, and sustainable timber harvesting. Research by Trust for Public Land and others have shown how community forests can be drivers of equitable outdoor access and rural prosperity.
Jen Pribble, executive director of Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, said the Dundee Community Forest was at risk of being developed and “drastically changing the landscape in our region.”
The forest, which includes 3.5 miles of cascading streams, provides vital water resources that flow into the Wildcat River. Additionally, the forest contains tributaries to the east branch of the Saco River, which support drinking water for more than 250,000 people in New Hampshire and Maine.
It also sports 150 acres of old-growth forest. Patrick Hackley, director of the state’s Division of Forests and Lands and the New Hampshire state forester, said conservation of the land will help maintain a highly resilient forest resource in the face of a changing climate. He called it “a great outcome for the White Mountain Region and for the people of New Hampshire.”
The Dundee Community Forest is a “reinvention of the New England town forest,” stakeholders say. Trust for Public Land facilitated the project and its fundraising campaign, while the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust holds ownership. Management input will come from the Dundee Community Forest Advisory Group consisting of local town representatives, community members, and nonprofit partners. The state of New Hampshire holds the conservation easement.
There are currently no existing trails or established parking areas for accessing the forest, stakeholders cautioned, so visitors should be prepared with maps and compasses. For more information, visit usvlt.org.
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