Forest Journal: There's comfort in conservation
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Dave Roberts of Farmington, honored last month as the Forest Society's Conservationist of the Year. Roberts is a retired teacher who dedicated his golden years to exploring the mountains and valleys around the Lakes Region.
My thoughts went back to when my kids were little and they were afraid of going into the back yard at night. I encouraged them to imagine all the things they knew and loved out there - the giant granite rock we pretended was a pirate ship, the tire swing that blasted them through the cosmos to alien planets, the old granddaddy maple trees that watched over them in the sandbox, the garden they dug in while "helping" to plant.
It seemed to help. And it was indeed a comfort for them to know their landscape.
As adults, our landscapes broaden to forests, lakes and mountains. Knowing those landscapes well enough to find comfort in the knowing requires that we spend time in them. Once we do that - hiking, walking our dogs, fishing, whatever - we tend to love those environments, and when we love them, we want to protect them.
-- Gretchen Abendschein of Acworth and her late husband, the artist Jerry Pfohl, lived together for three decades on prime agricultural and forestland in Acworth. With its restored historic home, studio, pond, forests and fields, it's one of the most beautiful properties I've seen anywhere in New Hampshire. Abendschein and Pfohl cut trails, picnicked, painted and watched wildlife on the land. After Pfohl's death three years ago, Abendschein continued to live there, but she's now selling the place and moving to a smaller home.
-- David Chase knows a landscape of another kind, the landscape of friendship, as well as that of his 12-acre woodlot in Clarksville. He lives in Lancaster but cuts firewood on his Clarksville lot and runs a portable sawmill there.
"Charley took me in when I got divorced. He gave me a place to live," Chase said. "If you were to put towers there (on his 12 acres), the line would go right next to his bedroom. There was no way I was going to be his friend if I sold out."
His advocacy inspired other conservation-minded people and groups to come together in 2006 to form the Belknap Range Conservation Coalition and work to conserve the unfragmented forested valleys and mountains that form the backdrop of Lake Winnipesaukee. Roberts is integral to the coalition's current "Everybody Hikes Mount Major" campaign to raise $1.8 million to purchase and protect four key properties in the Belknaps (including three on or adjacent to Mount Major) totaling 950 acres.
For more information about the Everybody Hikes Mount Major campaign, go to www.forestsociety.org.
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