Conservation Success Story: Expanding the Morse Preserve in Alton

November 8, 2022
The sun shines through the forest at an addition to the Morse Preserve.

Blueberries with a View  - and a Fundraising Success - Thank You!

The Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse, Sr. Preserve in Alton, NH is “as close to heaven as one can get without actually being there,” according to Mary Jane Morse Greenwood, who donated the 457-acre property to the Forest Society. She may have been partial, but on a clear day, a moderate hike to the top of Pine Mountain offers heavenly views as far as Mount Monadnock and Mount Washington. Open blueberry barrens at the summit provide excellent berry picking in season, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee with more views of the entire Belknap Range.

Now, the Forest Society is working to expand protection around the existing Morse Preserve by conserving lands to the north and south. To the south, a 220-acre parcel includes the ridgeline that travels south from Pine Mountain and links to the 203-acre Alton Bay State Forest. The landscape includes diverse topography and wildlife habitat, including a large beaver pond and great blue heron rookery, southwesterly facing cliff and rock ledges with talus slope below, and a black gum-red maple basin swamp. The landowner has offered to donate this land to the Forest Society as an addition to the Morse Preserve.


A map of the potential additions to Morse Preserve.
Click to view as a PDF.

To the north, another neighboring landowner has offered to donate a conservation easement on their 260 acres, which stretches from the Morse Preserve to Jesus Valley Road. Here, another large beaver pond and wetlands complex drains directly into Alton Bay. The conservation easement will permit pedestrian public access for people to explore the property.

Together, the conservation of these two properties will create a protected area at the Morse Preserve of almost 950 acres, and with Alton Bay State Forest would create a block of 1,250 acres of conserved forest land at the southern end of the Belknap Range.

Thanks to contributions from more than 450 members of surrounding communities, we succeeded in raising $164,000 by May 30 to support the transaction expenses such as surveys, legal work and staff time, and the stewardship expenses of managing and monitoring these lands forever. With fundraising complete, we hope to complete these acquisitions by the end of 2022.

Thank you for joining us in conserving this southern reach of the Belknap Range and protecting the water quality in Alton Bay!