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Long-Awaited Dundee Community Forest Now Protected
Long-Awaited Dundee Community Forest Now Protected
July 20, 2023 - Today, Trust for Public Land, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and the State of New Hampshire announced the creation of the Dundee Community Forest spanning 1,250 acres in the Towns of Jackson and Bartlett. The newly conserved property connects to the White Mountain National Forest and the Tin Mountain Conservation Center’s Jackson Field Station, which presents opportunities for trail connectivity and wildlife movement corridors.
Believed to be the largest unprotected ownership in the Mount Washington Valley, the lands consist of 17 parcels assembled over 60 years by the late William “Mack” Beal of Jackson. Mr. Beal was trained as a forester and a surveyor and was a careful steward who kept the lands open to community use for hiking, hunting, and cross-country skiing. That tradition will now continue in perpetuity as the Dundee Community Forest.
“I wanted to thank the Beal family for their generosity, patience and commitment to good stewardship of this remarkable piece of land” said Shelby Semmes, Vice President of the New England Region for Trust for Public Land. “We are honored to develop a conservation solution that protects this large forest for community benefit, outdoor access, and clean drinking water for residents across New Hampshire and Maine - all while honoring Mack Beal’s legacy.”
Research by Trust for Public Land and others have demonstrated that Community Forests can be drivers of equitable outdoor access, rural prosperity along with social and physical well-being.
“As Granite Staters, we take great pride in responsible environmental stewardship of our state,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “The Beal family represents the very best of New Hampshire. Their hard work in conservation will allow the land to be cherished by many for years to come.”
Now owned by Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, Dundee Community Forest will be managed for non-motorized recreation, wildlife conservation, and sustainable timber harvesting. The State of New Hampshire holds the conservation easement, which prevents the land from being subdivided or developed and guarantees recreational access.
“Given extensive road frontage on Dundee and Thorn Hill Roads, as well as development pressure in Jackson and Bartlett, Dundee Community Forest was at risk of being developed and drastically changing the landscape of our region. As new owners of Dundee Community Forest, we are thrilled that the forest is now protected forever for conservation, scenic enjoyment, and outdoor recreation and we are committed to its care forever. We look forward to working with the community to determine the trail system needs and plan for activities that welcome community members to enjoy the forest in a variety of ways,” said Jen Pribble, Executive Director of Upper Saco Valley Land Trust.
A Community Forest is a reinvention of the New England town forest. In this case, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust holds ownership of the forest. Management input will come from the Dundee Community Forest Advisory Group, which will include representatives from the Towns of Jackson and Bartlett, community members, and stakeholders such as nonprofit partners.
“The Dundee Community Forest is a great outcome for the White Mountain Region and for the people of New Hampshire” said Patrick Hackley, Director of the Division of Forests and Lands and the New Hampshire State Forester. “Conservation of this land will assure that sustainable forestry continues to provide jobs in the forest products sector and maintain a highly resilient forest resource in the face of a changing climate.
Dundee Community Forest also provides vital water resources for the community. Several pristine streams flow into the federally designated Wildcat Wild and Scenic River, which cascades into the popular tourism destination of Jackson Falls. Additionally, the Forest contains tributaries to the East Branch of the Saco River, which support drinking water for more than 250,000 people in New Hampshire and Maine. The conservation easement includes permanent stream buffers funded by the New Hampshire Aquatic Resource Mitigation program. A public drinking water well for the Villagio Bianco neighborhood will benefit from special provisions to protect water quality funded by The New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.
In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and with generous support from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Trust for Public Land released a special report, “Community Forests: A Path to Prosperity and Connection,” in 2021. The special report, and accompanying handouts, takes a case-study approach to understanding and exploring the numerous economic benefits provided by community forests created through the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP).
Trust for Public Land facilitated this complex project including leading the fundraising campaign and the real estate due diligence process. The project received a $2.3 million grant from the Forest Legacy Program, a US Forest Service program that protects vulnerable private forests from development, with support from the New Hampshire congressional delegation and numerous local businesses. Additional grant funding was provided by the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), NH Department of Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation Program and the NH Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund. Finally, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and Trust for Public Land each ran community-based fundraising campaigns that together attracted over 100 private donors to help close the gap between the grants and the purchase price, and establish a stewardship endowment.
The successful conservation of the land that makes up the Dundee Community Forest is the first step in the long-term management of this important landscape. Currently, there are no existing trails or established parking areas for accessing the Community Forest and if you choose to explore the area, please note that cell service is unreliable in the area. Visitors should be prepared with the 10 essentials, and know how to use a map and compass, while being aware of and respecting nearby and abutting private property. Learn more about accessing the Dundee Community Forest.
A community celebration event is planned for this fall.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.
About Division of Natural and Cultural Resources
New Hampshire's Division of Forests and Lands is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. NHDFL’s mission is to protect and promote the values provided by trees, forests and natural communities. This mission is accomplished through responsible management of the state’s forested resources; by providing forest resource information and education to the public; and through the protection of these resources for the continuing benefit of the state’s citizens, visitors, and forest industry. Learn more at nh.gov/nhdfl.
About Upper Saco Valley Land Trust
Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT) is a nonprofit land trust, accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, that works to protect land for community benefit. Since 2001, USVLT has completed 84 conservation projects, totaling nearly 12,000 acres throughout the towns of Hart’s Location, Bartlett, Jackson, Albany, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, and Madison in New Hampshire, and Brownfield, Denmark, and Fryeburg in Maine.
Rebecca Bullis, Trust for Public Land, 908-329-0321
Shelly Angers, NH Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, 603-271-3136
Jen Pribble, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, 603-662-0008
Photo Credit: Joe Klementovich, Hikers Explore Dundee Community Forest