Rindge Conservation Commission opens 228-acre conservation property

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-22-2023 2:27 PM

The Mattabeseck Wildlife Corridor has been a Rindge Conservation Commission project years in the making, and after an opening ceremony Sunday, it is officially open to the public, with a new parking area and nearly five miles of forested trails.

“We don’t have enough passive recreation in Rindge; we know that,” Conservation Commission Chair David Drouin said during the opening ceremony. “Any time we can add passive recreation is a win. We saw during COVID just how important it is.”

The Conservation Commission landed on the name “Mattabeseck” for the new conservation area after consulting with representatives of the local Abenaki tribe. The word, from the Abenaki language, means “land between the waters” and refers to the fact that the property sits at the divide between the Contoocook River and Millers River watersheds.

The Conservation Commission has been fundraising and writing grants to raise funds to purchase the property before the official purchase in 2022. Once part of the property owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel, the commission originally was interested in purchasing the property as a whole. But while the commission was raising funds, the property was sold to new owner Jay Pitterino. While Pitterino intends to continue working the gravel pit on the property, he was also willing to continue to work with the town to sell the majority of the undeveloped land – a total of 228 acres.

“It’s a new jewel in the crown,” Drouin said.

The land connects with the Mass Audubon Wildwood, which, in turn, connects to Annett State Forest and the Converse Meadow conservation area, creating a large block of land that will remain undisturbed by development, Drouin said. The land also contains 10 identified vernal pools and multiple wetlands.

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The endangered Blanding’s turtle and the blue-spotted salamander, which is a species in need of conservation, are known to be on the property and have habitat there. It is also an observed habitat for a number of other, more-common species, including deer, moose, turkey, bear, bobcat, red and gray fox, fisher cats, otter, ermine, raccoon, striped skunk, muskrat, porcupine, great blue heron, Canada goose, wood duck and hooded merganser.

Together with other conservation areas that abut it, the tract creates a corridor of a total of 2,100 acres of conserved land.

“It’s going to allow wildlife to pass through. This is a large piece of property, right in the center of other conserved land,” Drouin said.

The land was conserved with a combination of private donations from more than 50 individual residents, as well as grants from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the New Hampshire Moose Plate grant and the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Ground Water Trust Fund, as well as grands through private foundations, including Fields Pond, the Davis Foundations and Hunt Foundation, and a matching $25,000 gift from an anonymous donor.

“We did this with no expense to the Rindge taxpayer,” Drouin said.

The conservation easement will be held by the Monadnock Conservancy, who partnered with the Conservation Comission on the acquisition. The conservancy will uphold the terms of the easement and inspect the property annually.

The property is open for recreation, including hiking, horseback riding, hunting, cross-county skiing and snowmobiling. Aside from snowmobiles and trail maintenance equipment, no motorized vehicles are allowed.

The trailhead is located on Old New Ipswich Road in Rindge. There is parking at the trailhead, with the entrance located immediately before the entrance to Rindge Stone and Gravel.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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