Conservation of 245-Acre Forest Protects Water Quality, Recreation Opportunities in Washington

Popular snowmobile trail forms property’s boundary

November 3, 2014


CONCORD – Nov. 5, 2014 – The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) and the Washington Conservation Commission have conserved a 245-acre forest above Millen Lake in Washington.

The Forest Society acquired the property from the MacNeil family, who sold the land for significantly below its market value so that it could be conserved. The property’s location made it a priority for conservation, because it links lands that are already protected from development, creating a large, contiguous block that will remain open for wildlife habitat, recreation and the safeguarding of water quality. Accessed from Farnsworth Hill Road, the property abuts the Forest Society’s Farnsworth Hill Forest, Washington’s Town Forest, the Ashuelot River Headwaters Forest and the Long Pond Town Forest.

“This was a big missing piece of the puzzle that is now a part of the conserved landscape above Millen Lake,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society.

Funding was provided by the Davis Foundation, the Washington Conservation Commission and individual donors.

“We are very appreciative of the support of residents around the lake who donated to this project along with the Davis Foundation, and we’re once again grateful for the steadfast commitment of Washington Conservation Commission members, Difley said.

Jed Schwartz, chair of the Conservation Commission, said much of the success of the MacNeil forest project is thanks to the heroic efforts of Washington's John Brighton.

“John shared our appreciation for the extraordinary value of connecting the MacNeil Forest to the Farnsworth Hill Forest, the Washington Town forest and all connected lands beyond. John spearheaded the conversation with the MacNeil family, the Forest Society and the Conservation Commission and went on to lead the fundraising effort over the finish line,” Schwartz said.

Brighton was recently named the Forest Society’s Conservationist of the Year because of his work conserving both the MacNeil property and the abutting Farnsworth Hill Forest.

The MacNeil property contains many cellar holes and stone walls, evidence of its agricultural past, when the land was cleared for hilltop farms. It’s now heavily forested, with excellent wildlife habitat identified by the N.H. Fish and Game’s Wildlife Action Plan as the highest quality habitat of its kind in the state. The unmaintained Old Marlow Road, a long-ago main travel route to Washington, is a popular snowmobile trail in winter and a peaceful walking trail past many cellar holes and stone walls in all seasons.

“Visitors from near and far will enjoy the wild diversity of this remarkable landscape, now connecting thousands of acres of undivided wilderness in Washington and Lempster,” Schwartz said. “Wildlife and natural resources will thrive without restriction on this unmeasurably valuable landscape.”