Forest Society Names Deering Resident as Conservationist of the Year

September 21, 2006


Amanda Nickerson, Communications Specialist
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 301

Forest Society Names Deering Resident as Conservationist of the Year

Concord, N.H., September 22, 2006—The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests named Jonathan T. Dawson, a summer resident of Deering, as the 2006 Conservationist of the Year at the Forest Society’s 105th Annual Meeting held on September 16, 2006 at The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, N.H.

“The Conservationist of the Year Award is presented to individuals who have shown extraordinary dedication to transforming their communities through conservation,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s President/Forester, in her speech about Dawson. “Jon, along with his wife Deborah, has set an exceptional example of what can be accomplished with an ambitious vision and a commitment to working together in long-term partnerships among individuals and organizations.”

Dawson has been involved in dozens of land protection projects over the last ten years, resulting in nearly 2,500 acres of permanently conserved land in Deering, Hillsborough, and Henniker. The Tyrrell Foundation, named after Jon’s uncle, has been the primary source of funding for conservation efforts in Deering. Jon is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dawson-Herman Capital Management, Inc. in Southport, Connecticut, a company that he founded in 1981. He has served on the board of New Hampshire Audubon, and currently serves on the board of The Quebec Labrador Foundation and The Deering Foundation.

Jon Dawson’s land conservation efforts began in the early 1990s, when he helped New Hampshire Audubon acquire land abutting the Deering Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1999, he began working with the Forest Society by helping to acquire the Wilkins-Campbell Forest, and since that time he has fostered a collaboration between Audubon and the Forest Society in this region. Jon even influenced his good friend folk singer Tom Rush, a former Deering resident, to sell his 300-acre property to the Forest Society, creating the Tom Rush Forest.

“Jon’s financial support for land conservation over the last ten years is truly astonishing,” said Brian Hotz, senior land protection specialist at the Forest Society. “It has been Jon’s direct involvement in the land conservation efforts that has made the conservation of thousands of acres possible.”

In 2005, the Forest Society established the 515-acre Penelope and John Dawson Memorial Forest in Hillsborough, named after Jon’s parents. The Dawson Memorial Forest protects over a mile of frontage on the Contoocook River, abuts over 1,000 acres of other conserved land, and includes two farms that have been actively farmed sine 1738.

In 2006, Dawson enabled the Forest Society to establish its 150th Forest Reservation, the 103-acre Edward Cobbett Forest, named in honor of Edward Cobbett who has served on the Deering Conservation Commission for 20 years. The property includes a red maple swamp and a natural forested bog community that contains many very old and rare black gum trees.

Thanks to Jon Dawson’s conservation efforts, Deering has now surpassed the New Hampshire Everlasting goal of having at least 25 percent of town lands permanently protected.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.