New Community Forest Will Serve Thousands of New Hampshire Residents

April 30, 2020
Hanover, NH

The Trust for Public Land and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire today announced the opportunity to create Mink Brook Community Forest, a new 250-acre town forest, to be owned by the Town of Hanover. 

 

“Mink Brook Community Forest will provide outdoor recreation opportunities to thousands of people in the fastest growing part of the Upper Valley” said J.T. Horn, project manager at The Trust for Public Land. “During this time of national crisis, more and more people are headed outside to find peace, and we are reminded of the importance and power of the outdoors. This forest will serve as a key piece of the long-term vision to complete a greenbelt around downtown Hanover with new trail connections, a buffer for the Appalachian Trail, and a movement corridor for wildlife.”

 

“The Town of Hanover is committed to preserving open space that maintains our rural character and quality of life” said Julia Griffin, Hanover Town Manager. “We believe that after more than a decade of controversy regarding the development of this site that a new community forest is the right outcome for the Greensboro Road neighborhood. This outcome also fulfills an important part of our open space plan, which prioritizes the protection of the Appalachian Trail and the Mink Brook watershed.”

 

 

“The Hanover Conservancy is delighted that these beautiful and ecologically valuable lands will be protected forever as the Mink Brook Community Forest,” said Adair Mulligan, Executive Director of the Hanover Conservancy.  “Conserving such lands – and their healthy streams and wetlands - is a big step toward climate change resilience for our town and adds to future flood security in the Mink Brook corridor. The Hanover Conservancy has placed a priority on protecting this watershed in our strategic conservation plan.”

 

 

 

The Trust for Public Land is a national leader in creating new community forests. Sometimes called “town halls in the woods”, community forests provide diverse benefits such as outdoor recreation, timber revenue, and clean drinking water. The Town of Hanover sought The Trust for Public Land’s expertise to purchase the Greensboro Road property after over a decade of controversy about the potential large scale development of the site.

 

The Trust for Public Land’s purchase contract grants the organization until January 2021 to raise the $2.172 million purchase price, which is based on an independent appraisal. Additional funds for project costs and new trailhead development are also needed bringing the total campaign to $2.5 million. Subject to a successful fundraising campaign, The Trust for Public Land plans to convey the land to the Town of Hanover in early 2021. The 250-acres for the community forest will have permanent deed restrictions limiting uses to conservation and recreation including an active forestry program. Three acres for housing will be conveyed to the Town as unencumbered land and the town will seek an appropriate housing developer who can build a small cluster of affordable cottage-style homes targeted to new homeowners. The existing historic farmhouse would be resold on a small lot as part of the financing of the project. 

 

In 2005 the property was proposed for a 336-unit development by Paragon Development of Westport, Connecticut. A neighborhood opposition group formed, which successfully petitioned town meeting to change the zoning for the site. This precipitated several lawsuits by Paragon against the town, which went on for over a decade before being dropped in 2018. The creation of Mink Brook Community Forest aims to bring an amicable resolution to this controversy through a fair market value purchase resulting in permanently conserved open space designed to benefit the neighborhood with a small portion of housing in line with the character of the surrounding homes. 

 

Funding for the new Mink Brook Community Forest will come from public and private sources. An anonymous donor has provided a $500,000 pledge to The Trust for Public Land. The project was also recently selected for a $600,000 Community Forest Program grant from the U.S. Forest Service. These federal funds were supported by New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, including Senators Shaheen and Hassan and Congresswoman Kuster. Matching funds will include $500,000 from the Town pending votes by the Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission and Town Meeting.   Outside funds will be sought from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), and through a fundraising campaign. The Hanover Conservancy, Hanover’s private non-profit land trust, will assist with the fundraising campaign and with community outreach via a series of walks and tours to help the public explore and appreciate the many interesting ecological features of the property and its recreation potential.

 

Almost 35,000 people live and work within three miles of this property including Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth College and the cluster of businesses along Route 120 and Etna Road. A new Community Forest will offer welcome respite in nature for these residents and workers and provide connections for new trails and a wildlife movement corridor around downtown Hanover.

 

There will be significant opportunities for the community to develop the vision for the creation and stewardship of Mink Brook Community Forest. Once the public health situation allows for it, the Town of Hanover will host a series of public meetings for residents to learn about the property and offer ideas for how to balance wildlife, forestry and recreation. The Northern Forest Center will provide facilitation for the community meetings and help develop the stewardship plan.   

 

The Trust for Public Land wishes to thank the Leavitt family for being a cooperative, willing seller for this ambitious community conservation project.

 

About The Trust for Public Land

 

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

 

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