Mink Brook HanoverNH MimAdkinsPhoto from TPLThe Center is managing public engagement and outreach for the Mink Brook Community Forest project in Hanover, N.H., which will protect 250 acres containing the headwaters of Mink Brook, mature forests and a scenic hay field.

Project partners include residents of Hanover, the Trust for Public Land and the Hanover Conservancy.

Community participation was very strong, even though much of the process had to be on screen rather than in person. Center staff facilitated three public meetings on Zoom hosted by the Hanover Conservation Commission, with each one attended by 30 to 45 people. Ninety people toured the property — 10 at a time to maintain social distancing — and 147 people participated in an online survey about the project.

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.