Elisabeth Maley, Daughter of Ellen Jennings, Donates 314-Acre Addition to Jennings Forest in New Durham

June 12, 2024
Jennings Forest as seen from above in spring with thunder clouds.

(Photo: Ryan Smith)

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests recently added 314 acres to its Jennings Forest in New Durham. Ellen Jennings donated the Jennings Forest to the Forest Society in the 1980s. Now, her daughter, Elisabeth Maley, has gifted an additional 314 acres of land directly across Middleton Road from the original 385-acre Jennings Forest Reservation. The new addition will be referred to as the Jennings Forest Maley Tract.

“I hope visitors are happy the Jennings Forest is protected and open to recreation,” said Elisabeth Maley, landowner. “There's going to be less and less land available, and I think it's important to have some land for people to explore. I made this donation because I love the land and I want it to stay that way, conserved and not developed. I've had many solicitors tell me how much I could get per acre, and I just ignored them all because I can't imagine developing all that land.”

A stream flows through Jennings Forest in spring.
Hayes Brook runs through Jennings Forest. (Photo: Ryan Smith)

The property mainly consists of working forest and more than 7,000 linear feet of Hayes Brook, a perennial stream running through the center of the property. Several intermittent streams and wetlands on the property, totaling more than 7,100 linear feet, link to the wetland complex on the existing Jennings Forest. Combining the additional 314 acres to the 385-acre Jennings Forest, it will increase the total conserved land area around Middleton Road to over 700 acres, creating a larger connected network of conservation lands to forever support wildlife habitat and passage along the river and wetlands. Hayes Brook is a first order tributary to the Cocheco River, within the larger Great Bay Watershed. Over 90 percent of the property is located within the 2021 coastal conservation focus area according to the Coastal Watershed Conservation Plan.

The property will be managed and owned by the Forest Society and will be open to the public for recreational activities including hiking, hunting, and fishing. A snowmobile trail currently exists on the property, serving the Powder Mill Snowmobile Club and other recreationists who utilize the trail system year-round.

The property contains very high-quality wildlife habitat, with more than 140 acres ranked as Tier 1 habitat according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game's 2020 Wildlife Action Plan and important habitat to support threatened and endangered species. 

“I’d like to thank Elisabeth for her generosity and for continuing a conservation tradition begun by her mother,” states Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Because protecting larger blocks of forest also increases the integrity of both wildlife habitat and water resources, the Forest Society places a high priority on expanding conservation areas already in our care and management — especially in the coastal watershed, where the potential for fragmentation and development is high “

“Conservation of this land is so meaningful to me,” adds Maley. “To be able to add to the forest my mom started brings me great joy. We grew up with a strong value of conserving land, the environment, and wildlife, and this addition to Jennings Forest accomplishes it all.” 

The project was supported with grant funds from The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership and The Adelard A. and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation to assist with the transaction and stewardship costs.