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MMRG officials eye conservation of Brookfield acreage

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'Tumbledown Dick' mountain lies in the scenic backdrop of Lake Wentworth and Kingswood Lake from Route 109. Here, a view of Kingswood Lake. (Courtesy photo)

For more than 20 years, landowner Stephen Snow has been working to enhance the wildlife habitat and timber quality of his 320-acre property on Tumbledown Dick Mountain in Brookfield. Now, Snow is working with Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) to place a conservation easement on his land, to ensure that it is protected from development, forever.

According to Snow, the 1,100' mountain became known as 'Tumbledown Dick' after a horse named Richard lost its footing and fell off one of the two steep cliffs that define the southwestern profile of the mountain. In addition to those cliffs and talus slopes with scenic views, Snow's property includes several acres of wetlands and a beaver pond, hundreds of acres of carefully managed forest, miles of grassy woods roads, and two converted grassy fields created by Snow inside the forest for the benefit of animals that use early successional habitat. The property is open for low impact recreation and responsible hunting, with easy-to-moderate trails from the east and more challenging climbs from the northwest. The mountain lies in the scenic backdrop of Lake Wentworth and Kingswood Lake from Route 109.

MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns explained the many positive impacts of this conservation easement. "Conserving land with a conservation easement means that the landowner has voluntarily agreed to forfeit future development rights and to protect the land, forever. As a working forest in current use, it will continue to provide tax revenues to the town from timber harvests, which will adhere to an approved forestry management plan.

The easement will guarantee public access for recreation and hunting and will protect wildlife habitat, greenway corridors, water resources, historical features and New Hampshire's way of life. The view of Tumbledown Dick across the lakes will never be spoiled by residential or commercial development or mining on the property. Conserving Stephen Snow's land is also in accord with the Town of Brookfield's Master Plan, which designates preferred land uses as conservation and forestry."

Wildlife need connected open spaces, called greenways, to find food and shelter, to escape disease or other threats, to ensure genetic diversity, and to adapt to the changing climate. Connaughton-Burns emphasized the importance of Snow's property for its contribution to a growing greenway.

"His parcel abuts 360 acres of already conserved lands: Warren Brook Conservation Area with easement held by Wentworth Watershed Association and Split Rock Conservation Area with easement held by MMRG. The combined Ellis Hatch WMA and Moose Mountains Reservation make another 4,500 acres of nearby conservation land.

In MMRG's new Conservation Action Plan, Stephen's land is doubly recognized for its conservation value; it lies within a Tier 1 Conservation Focus Area and is part of a Priority 1 Greenway extending from Ossipee south across Tumbledown Dick into the Moose Mountains, through New Durham, towards Strafford."

She went on to enumerate more conservation values. "In its natural and forested state, the land around Tumbledown Dick provides critical lake watershed protection for both Lake Wentworth and Kingswood Lake. Snowmelt from the steep southwestern slopes enters channels of intermittent streams that flow into Warren Brook, a major tributary to Wentworth Lake. The land is also the headwaters of the sole major perennial stream feeding Kingswood Lake, with 7 acres of riparian buffer filtering the water that drains into over 1,000 feet of stream before it enters the lake. The conservation easement will ensure that future forestry practices continue to safeguard the streams and riparian buffers that preserve the water quality of both lakes."

Connaughton-Burns added, "Wetlands are nature's cradle of life; they support algae, other microorganisms and the eggs and larvae of insects, fish, and amphibians. These life forms in turn feed reptiles, birds, and mammals. After spending several hours exploring the property and visiting the many wetlands and pond, it was clear why Stephen's land ranks so well in biodiversity by the Nature Conservancy and New Hampshire's Wildlife Action Plan."

Patti Connaughton-Burns concluded, "Stephen Snow has chosen to put this land into conservation for the benefit of his family, friends, community, future generations, and for wildlife. We are grateful for his generosity and we hope the community agrees that it is a gift to know that this land will be protected forever!"

Donations to help conserve the Snow Family Conservation Area on Tumbledown Dick may be made online at www.mmrg.info or by mail to MMRG, PO Box 191 Union, NH 03887.

Virginia C. Long is a publicist for MMRG

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