Gift of 431-acre Reservation to the Forest Society Creates Morse Family Legacy

November 10, 2008

Gift of 431-acre Reservation to the Forest Society Creates Morse Family Legacy

 The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests recently received an extraordinary gift from Mary Jane Morse Greenwood: a new 431-acre reservation in Alton, New Hampshire. The reservation will be known as the Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse, Sr. Preserve in honor of Mary Jane’s parents.  Albert D. Morse, Sr. was a former Selectman for the Town of Alton.

“This property is one of the finest acquisitions I’ve seen in my time at the Society,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “Having been in the Morse family’s ownership for the past 135 years, the property comes to us with a rich family history and significant natural resources.”

The land features woodlands with marketable timber as well as fertile agricultural soils dominated by about 70 acres of commercially managed blueberry barrens.

The land is located next to the Mike Burke Town Forest and close to 8,900 contiguously protected acres in the 32,000-acre Belknap Mountain Range – a priority of the Belknap Range Conservation Coalition, in which the Forest Society participates. Its blueberry barrens, former fields, wetlands, and woodlands provide diverse habitat for wildlife. A 129-acre portion of the property is categorized by the N.H. Wildlife Action Plan as “habitat of highest ranking condition compared to all habitats in the same biological region.” 

Mary Jane grew up in the once well-kept and self sufficient farm and farmhouse, which her grandparents built in 1873.  Her father Albert ran a diversified farm, supplying fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats to the nearby Advent Christian Campground in Alton.

She remembers a rock-lined “boiling spring” near the blueberry camp. “It never went dry,” she said. “The water used to bubble up through the white sand at the bottom, and there were trout in the small pond just downstream from there.”

The reservation is crossed by many trails, one of which leads to an easy walk to the open summit of Pine Mountain, affording sweeping views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Mountain Range.

“When I was a kid, Dad used to help us up on that big rock at the top of Pine Mountain so we could see the bodies of water,” said Mary Jane. “He taught us the names of the various mountains that we could see.”

Mary Jane made this gift to the Forest Society, in the form of a deeply discounted bargain sale in memory of not only her parents but also her late sister, Arlene Frances Morse. She wanted to donate the land that has been in her family for more than 135 years to a conservation organization that would commit to its good, long-term stewardship and permanent protection. She has also asked that specific trails be named in honor of her sister, her late husband, Robert A. Greenwood, Sr., and her two brothers, A. Dana Morse, Jr., and Arthur E. Morse, Sr.

“We are honored by the trust that Mrs. Greenwood has placed in the Forest Society,” said Difley. “We will do everything in our power to maintain the land in a way that she and her family will be proud of, and that will honor their long connection to this land.”