Hedgehog Mountain Forest Doubles in Size

February 15, 2012

Hedgehog Mountain Forest Doubles in Size

Over the past year, the Forest Society has added another 492 acres to its 607-acre Hedgehog Mountain Forest in Deering, bringing the total reservation to 1,100 acres.

Not only is the Hedgehog Mountain landscape visible from many vantage points in the area, including Route 202 between Hillsborough and Antrim and a nearby rail trail, but it also offers outstanding views of that landscape to the explorers who venture up the mountain’s slopes.

Comprising five separate properties that all directly abut the Hedgehog Mountain Forest, the recent acquisitions complete the permanent conservation of the entire Hedgehog Mountain ridgeline, including the mountain’s northern summit. It is this prominent ridgeline that offers many overlooks of the Contoocook River Valley and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan highlands.

Both the Forest Society and the Deering Conservation Commission have conducted a sustained long-term effort to conserve this ecologically rich area, which is also a conservation priority of the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership. 

With its spruce forests, steep talus slopes leading to open fields, and a huge wetland complex, this area contains some of the most diverse natural habitat in the region that benefits moose, bears, deer, and bobcats, which all need large tracts of forestland to thrive. As a part of the Contocook River watershed, the forests and wetlands on and around Hedgehog Mountain provide a natural buffering system that helps preserve water quality in the streams feeding the Contoocook River.

The protection of this ecologically rich area expands a prominent forest reservation for visitors to enjoy while maintaining the region’s rural character and opportunities for outdoor recreation. As a Forest Society reservation, this land will remain open to the public for hiking, hunting, wildlife viewing, and the enjoyment of spectacular views.

Much of the $757,000 needed to purchase the land was generously provided by a private local foundation and through the support of many individuals. However, the last piece of the puzzle was generously donated by Mark and Marcia Lewis of Penn. A grant through the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership helped to cover transaction costs and staff time.

The story of conservation on Hedgehog Mountain goes back to the 1960s, when retired Governor John King and his wife Anna purchased a collection of properties comprising several thousand acres in Hillsborough County. Hounded by calls from developers during the building boom of the 1990s, the Kings approached the Forest Society to conserve their favorite 311-acre parcel – the forests and hollows on the southern end of Hedgehog Mountain. This became the first Forest Society reservation on the mountain, the John and Anna King Reservation that visitors enjoy today.

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 www.forestsociety.org.