Forest Society Partners with City of Keene and Others to Conserve Greater Goose Pond Forest

August 11, 2009

Just a short drive from downtown Keene, the Greater Goose Pond Forest has been a favorite place to relax, cool off, and get the kids outdoors for local residents since the mid-1980s. But it until recently, it was not permanently conserved open space.

The Forest Society recently accepted a conservation easement donated by the City of Keene to conserve the Greater Goose Pond Forest. This is the first municipally-owned land that the City of Keene has protected in this way. Encompassing five percent of the city’s land area, the 1,044-acre forest features a pond, several streams, wetlands, and other habitats that make it a conservation priority not only for Keene, but also within the NH Wildlife Action Plan, the Ashuelot River Land Conservation Plan, and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Conservation Plan.

“We congratulate the people who live in Keene for deciding to permanently conserve such a significant part of their city,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “The Forest Society has been pleased to work with the many champions of this project to help make it happen.”

Created from a small pond and bog in 1868, Goose Pond served as the city's first water reservoir and public water supply. At that time, the land around the 42-acre pond was restricted from public use to protect the water quality.

In 1984 Goose Pond was removed from Keene's water supply system, and the pond and surrounding forest were opened to the public for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and other low impact recreational activities.

About five years ago, a subcommittee of the Keene Conservation Commission formed to revisit the Greater Goose Pond Land Management Plan. The Friends of Open Space, a citizens’ organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of open land, became involved in the process, advocating that the revised plan recommend that the Goose Pond Forest remain in a natural state under a conservation easement.  The language suggested by the group was incorporated into the plan, which was ultimately adopted by the Keene City Council. 

“It was the work of many, from the Greater Goose Pond Land Management Committee to the Keene City Council that adopted the committee’s recommendations,” said Eloise Clark, chair of the Keene Conservation Commission. 

Members of the Keene Conservation Commission and Friends of Open Space selected the Forest Society to hold an easement on the land, ensuring its future protection as a place for walking, fishing, boating, and other activities. The city, as the owner of the property, will continue to actively manage it, including maintaining trails and parking areas.

Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. Supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society’s mission is to perpetuate the state’s forests by promoting land conservation and sustainable forestry. For more information, visit