The Conservancy recently led a tour of the Trescott Company lands with foresters John O’Brien and Jeffrey Smith.
The 1343 acres of land feeding Hanover’s drinking water reservoirs comprise one of the largest undeveloped and ecologically significant tracts remaining in town. The land supports well-managed forests, prime wildlife habitat that has potential to be some of the best in New Hampshire, and excellent agricultural soils. It offers crucial connectivity between Lord’s Hill, Oak Hill and the Appalachian Trail (see map).
A considerable proportion of the land is suffering from an infestation of invasive species, particularly glossy buckthorn, which is forming pure stands and suppressing natural forest regeneration. In addition, the deer population on the restricted lands is well beyond their carrying capacity and deer are selectively browsing native seedlings and saplings. The Conservancy supports the Trescott Company’s new policy of allowing deer hunting on the property in order to promote healthy forest growth.
In 2010 the Town and College created the Trescott Water Company, a land management company with equal ownership of 1,165 acres by the Town of Hanover and Dartmouth College. The 178 acres within 250′ of the reservoirs and the water treatment infrastructure are now owned by the Town. Previously, the Town held 47.2% of the Hanover Water Works and its land, and the College 52.8%. The Hanover Conservancy has been invited by the Trescott Water Company to advise on the new forest management plan for the watershed lands.
Maps -The following maps are single-page PDF files with clickable layers allowing you to turn various features on and off.
Does the Water Company land have adequate protection from future development? The Conservancy agrees with the Town of Hanover’s Master Plan (2003) and Open Space Priorities Plan that this land should be permanently protected. We are concerned that state and local ordinances and current zoning do not provide adequate long-term protection against future development. There are currently no federal level regulations that protect the watershed lands or drinking water reservoirs in Hanover. There are two state-level statutes:
- Env-Ws 386 “Rules for Protecting the Purity of Regulated Watersheds” which is for the protection of the Hanover reservoirs against point source pollution, such as sewage, garbage, and sawdust. It provides buffer protection of 75 feet from the reservoirs and any stream tributaries to Camp Brook and the reservoirs.
- NH Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (CSPA), RSA 483-B (1994, amended 2008). Provides shoreland protection of 250 feet around the high water mark of the reservoirs. Vegetative protection with natural woodland buffer zone (150 feet) and new waterfront buffer zone (50 feet). (As of 2010, the Town of Hanover owns the area within 250 feet of the reservoirs.)
Local Ordinance #17: (1973) “Regulations Relating to the Public Health,” was adopted by Hanover Board of Selectman and intended to protect the public drinking water and watershed area. The ordinance prohibits: bathing, boating, fishing, traversing ice or cutting ice in the reservoirs, and entering without right upon any land of the watershed area.
The local zoning designation is Forestry & Recreation which potentially allows certain uses such as agriculture and seasonal dwellings. This zoning can be changed by town vote.
An Historic Place
In the 19th century, the neighborhood included some 10 farms and the District 4 schoolhouse, at the intersection of Wolfeboro and Knapp Roads. One of the farms became the town’s Poor Farm, where the community’s indigent population lived and worked. The farm included a sawmill and a busy ice-cutting operation, among other activities. Our edited version of the 1892 map shows the boundaries and reservoirs of today superimposed on the settlement of yesterday.
The Hanover Water Works Company was established in this year, and the Fletcher Reservoir built in 1893 (later enlarged in 1954). Tree planting began in 1905 as pines were thickly set on the open fields of the former farms, but there was little forest management activity until the 1970s. By 1912 the company had acquired most of the Camp Brook watershed and removed the schoolhouse, poor farm, sawmill, ice house, and many other buildings. The Parker Reservoir was built in 1924.