Mason Town Forest becomes a reality after Town Meeting vote

  • Harry Spear, chair of Mason's Forestry Committee, stands in the middle of a plot of land that has been accepted as the Town Forest, off Wilton Road in Mason. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Harry Spear, chair of Mason's Forestry Committee, stands in the middle of a plot of land that has been accepted as the Town Forest, off Wilton Road in Mason. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Harry Spear, chair of Mason's Forestry Committee, stands in the middle of a plot of land that has been accepted as the Town Forest, off Wilton Road in Mason. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Harry Spear, chair of Mason's Forestry Committee, stands in the middle of a plot of land that has been accepted as the Town Forest, off Wilton Road in Mason. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/1/2019 10:26:51 AM

Harry Spear takes a few steps down a cart road cutting its way through the middle of Mason’s new Town Forest.

“Isn’t this beautiful?” he said. “This has been God’s gift to us. So it’s up to us to make sure we maintain it.”

The cart road is one of the entrances to the new town property, a total of 70.89 acres, which voters accepted as its first town forest during the March 16 Town Meeting.

Now it’s up to the town’s Forestry Committee, chaired by Spear, to decide how the property will be managed.

The land was donated by Mason resident Walter Valentine, and has been logged in the past, Spear said. The town’s Forestry Committee plans to work with the town’s forester to assess the trees on the property and see if it’s suitable for some cutting. If so, the profits from the timber sales will be put into a fund that the committee could use to build trails, bridges or other recreation improvements in the Town Forest or other town-owned lands.

“Mainly, the dream is to make sure it stays as open land,” Spear said. “I’ve lived in Mason my whole life, that’s 71, almost 72 years, and I’ve seen it grow. There are more people, more traffic. I’d like to see it remain as natural as it can.”

Spear said the Conservation Commission and Forestry Committee have been working towards a goal of having at least a quarter of the town remain open space and undeveloped.

One of the special things about the town forest property, Spear said, is it connects to other properties the Conservation Commission has already preserved.

To the north, the property abuts 21 acres off Greenville Road that had been given to the town in 2015 by Dorie and James French in memory of Charles Crathern, long-time Town Clerk and Dorie French’s father. That piece is connected to a large parcel given to the town by Bronson Potter.

Unbroken, protected land mean a permanent place for the town’s wildlife to continue to flourish, Spear said.

“I was out here the other day, and wasn’t here five minutes before I saw three deer walk out of the woods,” Spear said.

Spear, a long-time hunter and outdoorsman, said the woods have become like his “church.”

“This is why I love being a hunter – not so much the hunting, but being able to listen to the birds chirp, the turkeys gobble, the deer snorting when he knows I’m there. I just enjoy the peace and tranquility of being in the woods. Everyone should be able to enjoy that,” he said.

Currently, the forest can be accessed through a logging road, but Spear said eventually the Forestry Committee hopes to have the funds to be able to cut some trails suitable for people or horseback riders to enjoy. It’s a process they’ll have to take step-by-step, and is likely not in the near future, Spear said, because any trail work would need to be funded.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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