Preserving the Peace




Want to buy a secluded tract of forestland and ponds? Do you know where the town of Lempster is? A lot of people don't, and that's just fine with the townsfolk there, all 971 of them, at last count. They can enjoy the stunning beauty of the mountains and ponds that surround them in relative peace. Always, of course, there is the fear that developers could snatch up this prime land, which is located on the southwestern edge of the state, due north of Keene. It is for sale - or at least 1,750 acres of what is called the Ashuelot River Headwaters is. Tough economic times have kept developers at bay, but yet there is an interested buyer. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, a private non-profit land conservation organization, is working hard to raise the money to buy the land in hopes of keeping its forests, mountains and ponds just as they are. All the Forest Society would add - if it's successful in buying it - is a sign, a gate (not staffed) to the trails, a kiosk with trail maps and parking. "Here is a place where you can hike to the summit of Silver Mountain and see nearly 360 degrees around," says Dave Anderson, director of education for the society. "You can see both Mount Sunapee and Lovewell Mountain from there. It's also a great spot for blueberry picking." (Silver Mountain is called that because it was and is owned by the Wrights, a Keene family that made a fortune in the silver polish business.) The tract also includes Long Pond and Sand Pond frontage, so canoeists, kayakers and even powerboaters (within certain limits) can enjoy the pristine lakes. Both are classified as trout waters. The Forest Society launched its fundraising effort last year, with the goal of $2.1 million. So far, $1 million has been raised, thanks in large part to an LCHIP grant and a federal Landowner Incentive Program grant. That leaves $1 million or so, and the Forest Society is hoping New Hampshire people will find a way to help. They'd love to take you on a tour to see the great views on Silver Mountain (see "More Info" box).

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