Mink Brook HanoverNH MimAdkinsPhoto from TPLThe Center is working with residents of Hanover, NH, and partners the Trust for Public Land and the Hanover Conservancy to create a Community Forest that will protect 250 acres containing the headwaters of Mink Brook, mature forests and a scenic hay field.

Center Program Director Julie Renaud Evans will help prepare community members for owning and managing the 250 acres as a town resource. “I’ll will help residents identify management and recreational priorities to balance sustainable forestry with ecological protection and development of new trails and recreation opportunities,” said Renaud Evans.

Hanover is a town of about 11,000 people, well known as the home of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, though the surrounding landscape is rural. The Mink Brook Community Forest project will stave off development that has threatened the property and help conserve the rural character close to downtown.  

Steve Wight moderates Woodstock ME town meeting 6.22.20The town of Woodstock, Maine, has formally started the process to consider creating a Community Forest in town. 

Voters attended Woodstock's socially distanced Town Meeting on June 22 in their cars, while the Board of Selectmen and the meeting's moderator, Steve Wight, used the bed of a truck as a stage. Center Program Director Julie Renaud Evans gave a brief presentation about the benefits of Community Forests and the ways they can serve town goals before the vote.

Voters passed a Warrant Article to create a committee to explore the feasibility and practicality of creating a Community Forest.

For three years, the Center has been working with UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions on a comprehensive inventory of all town owned land in the state. The survey portion of the project is complete and reveals some impressive statistics:

  • New Hampshire towns own 1,435 forested parcels that are 10 acres or more in size.
  • Town-owned properties cover 158,455 acres, equal to 3% of New Hampshire's forested land. (For comparison, Vermont communities own about 70,000 acres of forestland.)
  • Most town land (63%) is being managed for multiple uses including wildlife habitat, recreation, water or wetland protection, timber production and education.
  • 109,660 acres (69%) are permanently protected, which is considerably more than we anticipated.

Milan County Foresters Tour NH town forest inventory program update 2.6.18For three years, the Center has been working with UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions on a comprehensive inventory of all town owned land in the state of New Hampshire.  We aim to increase the amount of municipally owned land and maximize the benefits realized from locally-owned, sustainably-managed public lands.

Many towns own forestland, though not all are taking initiative to set social, fiscal, economic and conservation goals. The inventory used the Community Forest model as a basis for analysis on missed opportunities for community benefit. Community Forests are town-owned land that are permanently protected, have careful stewardship plans to realize community benefit, and are shaped by local decision making.