The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests gathered for their 117th Annual Meeting at Southern New Hampshire University on September 29, 2018. President/Forester Jane Difley updated the membership on the past year of conservation successes and reflected on the organization's 100-year history of work in the Granite State. From the passage of the Weeks Act that led to the creation of the White Mountain National Forest to the campaign to bury Northern Pass, the Forest Society has time and again stood with the people of New Hampshire to protect places of special beauty.
Looking ahead, Difley described recent efforts to focus attention on one of the most threatened watersheds in the country, the Merrimack River. These efforts include a partnership with Manchester Water Works to protect the forested landscapes around Tower Hill Pond and a documentary film project with videographer Jerry Monkman to tell the story of the Merrimack's past, present, and future. In an excerpt from her speech, Difley highlighted the importance of engaging people in this work:
"Our drive to fullfill our mission, to perpetuate forests even as society rushes to blanket them in pavement, is like a river. Just as a million raindrops gather to make a stream, so thousands of people come together in favor of conservation. Just as the water of the White Hills will reach the salty shores of our ocean at a pace that alternately rushes and eddys, tumbles and swirls, our work rises and falls. With enough of our greatest asset, people, we will be as unstoppable as the Merrimack."
As part of the Annual Meeting, the Forest Society held afternoon field trips highlighting conservation efforts and environmental programs in the Merrimack Valley. Sixteen people joined a hike around Tower Hill Pond in Auburn, where a proposed 1,870-acre conservation easement would help protect drinking water supplies for Manchester Water Works. Despite being located only a few miles from downtown Manchester, the tract contains miles of undeveloped shoreline, dozens of vernal pools, hundreds of acres of prime wetlands, and habitat for rare or threatened plants and animal species.
The evening business meeting recognized retiring trustees, Margo Connors, Rebecca Oreskes, and Merle Schotanus, and elected a slate of nominees to the Board of Trustees. New to the Board of Trustees are Nancy Martland of Sugar Hill and Janet Zeller of Concord. Continuing with a second term are John Brighton of Andover and Amy McLaughlin of Exeter.
Another former Chair of the Forest Society Board of Trustees, Jamey French, set the stage for the evening's conclusion by introducing Andrew Bowman, President of the Land Trust Alliance. French, President of Northland Forest Products in Kingston, has been a Forest Society member since he was 12 and is now the Chair of the Land Trust Alliance.
In his keynote address, Bowman shared insights and trends across a national network of more than 1,200 conservation organizations. Bowman congratulated the Forest Society on many conservation successes, including our participation in their rigorous accreditation program. In July 2013, the Forest Society was awarded accreditation by the Land Trust Allliance Accreditation Commission and submitted its application for renewal in 2018. Bowman shared that although there are just over 400 accredited land trusts in the U.S., 80% of existing conserved land is held by accredited land trusts like the Forest Society. Continue scrolling to see more photos of the evening program, below.