Tamworth Couple Donates Conservation Easement on 333 Acres of Critical Wildlife Habitat

June 10, 2010

 Tamworth Couple Donates Conservation Easement on 333 Acres of Critical Wildlife Habitat 

Years ago, when they lived in Philadelphia, Missy Myers and Margaret Rieser dreamed of moving north, closer to the mountains that they loved to hike. Their northward migration was slow but steady: they moved first to Boston, Mass., then to Portsmouth, NH, Wakefield, Freedom, and finally to Tamworth.

It was here, at the edge of the White Mountain National Forest, that they purchased the 333-acre woodlot on which they recently donated a conservation easement to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

The conservation easement fulfills a dream years in the making. The couple bought the property to make closer connections with and to protect the New Hampshire landscape they loved. Since that purchase, Missy, Margaret, and their son Ben have enjoyed countless hours exploring the land’s woods roads, watching its wildlife, and tromping its varied topography. 

Margaret, who now serves on the Tamworth Conservation Commission, grew up on a 25-acre farm outside Philadelphia. As the years passed, the land surrounding the farm was absorbed by residential development.

“It was horrific to watch that happen,” she said. Frustrated, she felt powerless to stop the never-ending rise of houses around her family’s farm. “That’s why conserving this land was so important to me,” she said. “This time, I could do something.”

Margaret and Missy leapt at the opportunity to purchase the 300-plus acre property when it first appeared on the market.

“We knew we wanted to buy it,” said Missy. “It seemed like such a great opportunity to have a relationship with the land.”

Recognizing the crucial role of long-term stewardship, they improved the woods roads that run through their property for wildlife and forest management and created a parking area for hikers. The woods roads connect to the hiking trails of the Sandwich Range, and Missy and Margaret keep their land open to the public for hiking and cross-country skiing as well as educational use.

With more than one mile of frontage along both sides of the Wonalancet River and Sanborn Brook, the land provides habitat for mink, beaver, deer, and ruffed grouse. A recent 30-minute walk through the forest revealed moose tracks, a salamander, a luna moth, and both coyote and bear scat – the last of which was fresh. The property also has many beech stands with nests made by feeding black bears.

Centrally located within the strategic, landscape-scale Whites-to-Ossipees wildife connectivity corridor identified by the Tamworth Conservation Commission and other conservation organizations as key habitat, Margaret’s and Missy’s land abuts the 2,090-acre Hemenway State Forest and another conserved property of 742 acres on which the Forest Society holds an executory interest in a conservation easement. Its conservation also adds to a contiguously protected area of some 7,200 acres adjacent to the Sandwich Range in the White Mountain National Forest. 

“This is the first piece of property that I’ve ever owned,” said Missy.  “The notion of ‘owning’ land always seemed strange to me; our presence is so transient compared to the permanence of the land. It’s an awe-inspiring feeling, having this connection to the land and the privilege of taking care of it for awhile.”

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.