Families flock to Musquash Field Day for outdoor adventuresBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent February 18. 2018 8:54PM
LONDONDERRY — Each of the past 20 winters, the Londonderry Conservation Commission has hosted its seasonal Musquash Field Day in an effort to promote the town’s 1,000-acre conservation property.
And on a sunny, slightly nippy Saturday morning, dozens of families braved icy trails to partake in the commission’s scheduled festivities. “We have this magnificent Musquash Conservation Area, and it’s an opportunity to expose that to more people,” said Marge Badois, chairman of the conservation commission. She stood near the Hickory Hill Drive entrance to Musquash, one of the largest preservation sites in the region.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t realize this is here. People who have lived here for 30 years still don’t realize we have this great area,” she said.
Those in attendance strolled through the woods with Greg Jordan, a University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Natural Resources field specialist and the Rockingham County forester, who spoke of the finer points of timber harvesting and the importance of managing the property.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions and I think it’s all good intentions — they’re worried the forest is being destroyed — but really the forest is pretty resilient,” Jordan said. “A lot of different wildlife need a lot of different habitats, and just having one single uncut forest doesn’t really provide all the wildlife habitats that all our species need in New Hampshire,” he added. “It’s really about managing habitat. Trees are resilient, they grow back.”
Other bundled-up guests were on-hand to hear local historian David Ellis speak on the centuries-old cellar holes on the property. Those with young children participated in a scavenger hunt, helping the next generation of nature-lovers to identify different animals and landmarks in the forest.
Just shy of a mile into the trail system, a popular junction is The Landing, where hungry hikers stopped for hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over an open fire before continuing onto Porcupine Rock in an attempt to view wildlife who remain during the long New England winters.
Brenda Birdsall, who lives on neighboring Chestnut Hill Drive, has long wanted to know more about the Musquash area. She and her husband Ken have lived by the conservation area for 20 years and had their only other visit spoiled by a springtime barrage of black flies. This year they were home for the field day and decided to swing by with their family. “We’ve lived here all these years, our kids have played back here for hours on end, and other than one time with the black flies, I don’t know much about what’s back here,” she said. In addition to its goal of promoting the Musquash land, Badois said the commission is always looking for more volunteers to help in preserving the complex system of trails. Londonderry Trailways used to create and maintain the nature paths at Musquash over the years, but the group’s focus has largely shifted to the Rail Trail, Badois said.
“I get that — the Rail Trail didn’t exist 10 years ago, so we are trying to replace their efforts and recruit some volunteers who actually use the trails,” she continued. “They’re the best resource because they’re out there frequently and they can tell you when a tree is down or a sign is vandalized.”
The extensive marked system includes more than 20 miles of managed trails. The trails are supervised by the conservation commission and maintained by Londonderry Trailways and volunteers during seasonal work days.