Committed to the land

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Chris Gagnon, left, leads Friends of the Wapack Trail on a hike on property the group helped to conserve. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Chris Gagnon, right, leads Friends of the Wapack Trail on a hike on property the group helped to conserve. COURTESY PHOTO

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • President of Friends of the Wapack Rick Blanchette walks a soon-to-be conserved property on Binney Hill in New Ipswich. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • President of Friends of the Wapack Rick Blanchette walks a soon-to-be conserved property on Binney Hill in New Ipswich. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • President of Friends of the Wapack Rick Blanchette walks a soon-to-be conserved property on Binney Hill in New Ipswich on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Soon-to-be conserved property on Binney Hill in New Ipswich. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/16/2016 6:28:45 PM

“These opportunities only come along about once a decade,” said Rick Blanchette, president of the Friends of the Wapack, as he walked along the edge of Binney Hill.

The area Blanchette was walking through is on the border of a 485-acre parcel in New Ipswich that recently went from a logging site to being owned by the Northeast Wilderness Trust to be preserved as wildlands. Cutting through the property is more than a mile of the Wapack Trail, which will also be preserved.

Blanchette first discovered the property about a year ago, when he was searching real estate listings for properties for sale in the area of the Wapack Trail, something he does from time to time to keep an eye out for potential conservation opportunities. When he saw four parcels, undeveloped and used as a timber harvest site, that not only contained a section of the Wapack Trail, but also connected other conservation corridors, he knew it was a rare opportunity,

Northeast Wilderness Trust Executive Director Daryl Burtnett, who had worked with the Friends of the Wapack on nearby project known as Wapack Wilderness, got a flurry of calls and emails asking if the Trust had any interest in facilitating the conservation of the land.

In fact, said Burtnett, they were already working on it. And not just to hold an easement on the land, but to become its owners.

“The ink was barely dry on the Wapack Wilderness easement when we started thinking about how we were going to take care of the land on the other side of Binney Hill,” said Burtnett.

So, when the very acres they had been keeping an eye on went for sale, the Trust decided to take action, said Burnett, despite it being the biggest project yet for the organization. The group is dedicated to protecting forests as wildlands – not managed through timber harvesting and left to grow naturally into old forests.

“It was a pretty daunting task,” said Burtnett. “We had to raise a little less than a million dollars.”

To be precise, about $920,000 – $25,000 of which was contributed by Friends of the Wapack Trail – who will help the Trust steward the land.

The lands abut the Binney Pond Natural area to the north and the Ashburnham State Forest to the south, and would also connect Wapack Wilderness with the protected areas surrounding Mount Watatic in Massachusetts.

It’s a key puzzle piece in creating a major protected forest block of about 2,235 acres straddling the New Hampshire and Massachusetts border and is a habitat for moose, bobcat, black bear and deer.

Northeast Wilderness Trust is the only regional conservation group dedicated to preserving land as forever-wild – with no resource extractions or development. This has several benefits, said Burtnett, as wildlife habitat, for climate regulation, a source of clean air and water, and a scientific benchmark to compare to managed landscapes.

“Wilderness isn’t a special kind of place you trip over,” said Burtnett. “It’s a place you make a commitment to.”


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, your source for Peterborough area news.


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2021 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy