A Lifetime of Loving Land

This winter, skiers and snowboarders get to ride untouched powder on Dick Ware's land and adjacent areas.

December 7, 2018
Backcountry skiier gets first tracks in glade called Intervale Dream in the White Mountains

Backcountry skiier Andrew Drummond getting first tracks in glade called Intervale Dream on November 27, 2018. Photo courtesy Granite Backcountry Alliance.

When I first met Dick Ware in 1996 as a newly arrived Forest Society land agent, he proudly produced the thank-you card the Forest Society had sent to his mother and him in 1929, acknowledging their one-dollar donation to help conserve the once threatened Franconia Notch. The card confirmed that their contribution had “bought” them one tree in this now-protected, iconic part of New Hampshire. Dick would go on to live a long life “buying” many more trees in many other special places in the White Mountains.  

Upon his death in 2016, Dick donated 54 acres to the Forest Society on East Branch Road in his hometown of Bartlett. His devise was the last in a long history of generous gifts to the organization. In fact, he appears to hold the record for the longest span of giving of any Forest Society member—some 87 years! Dick understood and embraced both the principles and pragmatics of conserving land, and he wanted to ensure that his gift would provide both conservation and financial benefits to the organization. Accordingly, the gift restrictions he set up included a requirement that any net proceeds from the sale of this land go into the Forest Society’s general endowment fund in support of operations.

View of Mount Washington from the Maple Villa Glade on Bartlett Mountain
View of Mount Washington from the historic Maple Villa Glade. Photo courtesty Granite Backcountry Alliance.

This past September, the Forest Society completed the sale of his property by selling a 5.7-acre building lot subject to a limited conservation easement. The restrictions of the easement cap development at one residence set back from the edge of East Branch Road. The restrictions also created a buffer strip along the road to protect the existing ground cover and terrain and to minimize the visual impacts of a new home on the lot.

Earlier in 2018, the Forest Society sold the abutting 48.4-acre parcel to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT) subject to a full conservation easement. The restrictions prevent conventional development and contain other typical terms protecting the land’s conservation features. They also guarantee pedestrian access to the property and allow for the creation of a parking lot and trailhead. In making this purchase, the USVLT has collaborated with the Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA), a nonprofit group dedicated to creating and maintaining backcountry skiing opportunities in New Hampshire and western Maine.

Skiing down the East Branch glade in the White Mountains with views of Mt. Washington
Skiing down the East Branch glade with views of Mt. Washington. Photo courtesty Granite Backcountry Alliance.
This parcel will give backcountry skiers access to an abutting area on the White Mountain National Forest where GBA has received a permit to develop glade skiing on Bartlett Mountain. This increasingly popular sport requires removal of some understory vegetation to accommodate skiers zigzagging down through the glades of trees. To reach the gladded zone, skiers will use the existing Maple Villa Ski Trail, originally cut in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, on USVLT’s newly acquired tract. Hikers and other recreational users will also enjoy this property and its various other trails, including the Mount Surprise Trail, which connects to Merriman State Forest.

Engaged in many community-based activities, Dick and others also set up and administered the Pequawket Foundation, providing grants to cover transaction-related expenses for worthy land conservation projects undertaken by the Forest Society and other nonprofits in the Mount Washington Valley.

This winter, as skiers and snowboarders flock to ride untouched powder on Dick’s land and adjacent areas, I’m confident he’ll be smiling from above about the outcome of his final project and the legacy he left in the mountains.

Map depicting conservation land sold by the Forest Society to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and private owners
Map depicting land sold by the Forest Society to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and a private owner.