Celebrating Protection of the Ammonoosuc River Forest
From concept to completed trail, the new angler access trail at the Forest Society's Ammonoosuc River Forest officially opened on Saturday, July 9 in Bethlehem.
Landowners Dick and Nancy Gould generously sold 273 acres along 1.8 miles of the Ammonoosuc River in December 2020 to Forest Society at a price of only one-third of the land’s full value, enabling the permanent conservation of the property. The Ammonoosuc (“small narrow fishing place” in Abenaki) is one of the largest rivers in the northern White Mountains, originating in Lakes of the Clouds on Mt. Washington’s western slope and flowing westward to meet the Connecticut River in Woodsville. With scenic vistas and key cold-water fisheries in its upper reaches, the Ammonoosuc River is home to wild brook trout, as well as rainbows and browns.
The recreational value of the property is significant above and beyond its well-known trout fishery. The land includes an established snowmobile trail (“Twin Mountain Connector”) running through the property’s southern section and then into the White Mountain National Forest. Many kayakers and whitewater canoeists delight in this stretch of fast water each spring. Great views of the Presidential and Franconia Ranges are visible from trails within the property, and also from Route 302, where over a mile of undeveloped frontage provides a scenic buffer along this designated “New Hampshire Scenic Byway.” This project also protects local drinking water supplies due to the significant sand and gravel aquifer underlying the property and supplying water for nearby homeowners with on-site wells. It also protects historic features of the old Boston & Maine Railroad bed, whose culverts are made of massive, hand-cut, granite beams.
Haystack Brook, which flows northerly through the property and into the Ammonoosuc River, provides high-quality habitat for eastern brook trout, both as a refuge from high main stem temperatures in the summer and also as spawning ground in the fall.
“Trout are great indicators of the health of our rivers, lakes and ponds,” stated Art Greene, Ammonoosuc Chapter representative for Trout Unlimited (TU) New Hampshire, when the property was protected in December 2020. “The conservation of this river frontage is significant for the protection of wildlife and water quality. TU is honored to have played a part in conserving this valuable land, not only for our anglers, but for all outdoor enthusiasts.”
Trout Unlimited members, community leaders, and Forest Society staff celebrated the opening of the trail together at the forest on July 9.