The Forest Society has confirmed that Black Mountain will be conserved. The organization has raised the $1.2 million needed to acquire the 1,025-acre property located next to Mount Kearsarge in Sutton and Warner.
“Black Mountain is part of one of the largest and most ecologically important forest blocks in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “Only last week we were still $14,000 shy of our goal, but since then we have received a blizzard of donations. This outpouring of support shows that land conservation remains a high priority for people.”
“The support that we received from the Sutton and New London conservation commissions, the Ausbon-Sargent Land Preservation Trust, the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition, and the local snowmobile community has been key to this project’s success,” said Difley. “We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us to conserve this important piece of the Mount Kearsarge landscape.”
The conservation of this large tract adds to the protected landscape around Mount Kearsarge State Park, a popular hiking destination. The land contains over a mile of the Lincoln Trail, a well-used hiking trail to the summit of Mt. Kearsarge and key linkage in the larger Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway. A section of a state snowmobile trail also crosses the property, leading into the larger Kearsarge trail network. The Forest Society plans to manage the Black Mountain property as one of its reservations to ensure that it remains open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and other recreational pursuits.
Mt. Kearsarge and its secondary peak Black Mountain have helped define the region since the first Europeans wrote about the area in 1652. Together, the two peaks form a picturesque backdrop visible from the surrounding communities and from Interstate 89. Development of Black Mountain or the other lands located higher on the mountains would certainly degrade the wild character of these mountains and diminish the views from the surrounding communities and Interstate 89.
This land was advertised as a promising site for a residential subdivision less than two years ago.
The land is diverse, with several different forest communities, rock outcroppings, mountain streams, open wetlands, grassy beaver meadows, forested seeps and vernal pools. Signs of bear, bobcat, moose, deer, turkey, fox, mink, fisher and other species have been found on the land. The mountain’s streams and cascades feed the Blackwater and Warner Rivers, both headwaters of the Merrimack River.
This land has been a conservation priority for not only the Forest Society, but also the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan (Q2C) Partnership. The Q2C partnership contributed $50,000 toward the project, as did the Town of Sutton, in which most of Black Mountain is located.
Recently, the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and the NH Fish and Game Department each contributed $150,000 for Black Mountain.
Earlier this year, the Forest Society received almost $300,000 for the project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as close to $500,000 from nearly 500 private donors.
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.