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Bennington

Town remembers Bruce Edes

Memorial walk honors resident’s commitment to community, conservation

  • The Bruce Edes Memorial Forest information and parking can be found behind the VFW in Bennington on Pierce Hill Road, just off Route 202 heading south. Six trails run through the 34 acres of land established between the Contoocook River and Route 202. Riverfront views abound as well as plenty of vegetation and large trees.

    The Bruce Edes Memorial Forest information and parking can be found behind the VFW in Bennington on Pierce Hill Road, just off Route 202 heading south. Six trails run through the 34 acres of land established between the Contoocook River and Route 202. Riverfront views abound as well as plenty of vegetation and large trees. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Robyn Manley, Jon Manley's wife, far left, walks with Conservation Commission Chair Valerie Germain and a Benningto  father and daughter  on the blue trail in the Bruce Edes Memorial Park, Saturday morning. The forest consists of 34 acres of land between the Contoocook River and Route 202 and has six marked trails with numerous riverfront views.

    Robyn Manley, Jon Manley's wife, far left, walks with Conservation Commission Chair Valerie Germain and a Benningto father and daughter on the blue trail in the Bruce Edes Memorial Park, Saturday morning. The forest consists of 34 acres of land between the Contoocook River and Route 202 and has six marked trails with numerous riverfront views. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Bruce Edes Memorial Forest information and parking can be found behind the VFW in Bennington on Pierce Hill Road, just off Route 202 heading south. Six trails run through the 34 acres of land established between the Contoocook River and Route 202. Riverfront views abound as well as plenty of vegetation and large trees.
  • Robyn Manley, Jon Manley's wife, far left, walks with Conservation Commission Chair Valerie Germain and a Benningto  father and daughter  on the blue trail in the Bruce Edes Memorial Park, Saturday morning. The forest consists of 34 acres of land between the Contoocook River and Route 202 and has six marked trails with numerous riverfront views.

BENNINGTON — Residents gather yearly on the weekend closest to Sept. 9 to go on a walk in remembrance of an active and respected community member who made it his purpose to conserve local land.

Sept. 9 was Bruce Edes’ birthday. Edes is a former member of the conservation commission who passed away in 2004. On Saturday morning, a group gathered at the Bruce Edes Memorial Forest by the Bennington VFW to walk in his memory and honor the work he did as part of the commission. According to current conservation commission member Jon Manley, Edes started working on establishing a forest in town around 2002 before his sudden death in 2004. Edes wanted to preserve this land because of it’s uniqueness and location neighboring the Contoocook River, Manley said.

The land Edes wanted to make into a forest includes 34 acres between Route 202 and the Contoocook River. Manley said those acres now make up the Memorial Forest. Edes worked at the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington as a foreman and was instrumental in working with the mill on donating land for the forest project. This contribution, along with his dedication to the Conservation Commission and love of nature, were factors that led the commission to dedicate the forest to him, Manley said.

The land includes riverfront spots and significantly tall trees in the middle of the forest, Manley noted.. When the commission began its discussions about establishing a forest, Manley said there were talks about town of different development plans for this forest space, which pushed the Conservation Commission and Edes to take action to preserve this unique woodland location.

“When Bruce died, it made all the sense in the world to continue the project,” Manley said.

The forest was established in 2005, a year following Edes’ death, and was dedicated in spring 2006. The forest consists of town lands and land donated by the Monadnock Paper Mills.

The forest includes six trails all marked by different-colored compass roses — a symbol that had special meaning to Edes.

“He was very much an outdoors man and he was very in tune with nature,” Manley said. “The symbol of the four winds had a special meaning to Bruce, he even had it tattooed on him. The circle symbolizes the circle of life and the four lines symbolize the four winds and the four seasons. It just seemed like the perfect symbol for the trails.”

Edes died of a heart attack on Oct. 31, 2004, while running in a charity race in Keene, Bennington Town Administrator Denise French recalled Monday. Neither French nor Manley could confirm how many walks the town has hosted to date, but the number is either eight or nine.

To find the parking lot for the trails, heading south on Route 202, turn left onto Route 31 and before the bridge turn left again into the VFW parking lot. Maps and forest information are available behind the building by the start of the trail.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 232 or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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