Trescott Water Supply Lands

DN103--Ascutney-From-Prospect-Hill
October view of Mt. Ascutney and Velvet Rocks from the Trescott lands. Photo by Jim Block.

The vast lands 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 for wildlife and recreation between Lord’s Hill, Oak Hill and the Appalachian Trail.

TRESCOTT LANDS RE-OPEN!

As of Dec. 15, the Trescott Water Supply Lands are once again open to the public for recreation.  The Trescott Recreation Committee strongly urges the public to observe the rules for use, especially these:

  • The reservoirs are strictly off-limits, frozen or not – no skating or walking on ice, fishing, boating, or swimming, for obvious reasons
  • Land within 250’ buffer of each reservoir is also closed, except for Knapp Road which passes just below the Parker Reservoir Dam. Please stay on the road in this area.
  • Dogs MUST BE LEASHED at all times, everywhere on the property, and pet waste carried out. Coyote trapping is underway* on these lands, and your dog will be safer on a leash. If your dog needs to run free, this isn’t the place.

It’s easy to sound unfriendly here, but it’s important to protect our community’s water supply.  If the rules are not followed, there is no guarantee that the Trescott lands will remain open.

Multiple violations forced the Trescott Company to close the Trescott lands in late September. Since then, the Trescott Recreation Committee has worked with DPW toward safely re-opening the lands. This includes:

  • surveillance cameras throughout the property
  • new signs to clearly mark the 250’ reservoir boundary
  • updated map and display at the trailhead kiosks
  • additional signs about leashing dogs
  • trained volunteer monitors to greet visitors and explain the rules for use. (If you’d like to help, get in touch). Thank you, volunteers!

Please help keep this beautiful area open for all to enjoy, by observing these simple rules for use that protect our community’s drinking water quality. The Trescott Recreation Committee is composed of representatives of DPW, Hanover Conservancy, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Hanover Parks and Recreation Dept., and interested neighbors.

Unfortunately, over the Sept. 24 weekend, people were observed kayaking and fishing in the reservoirs, running dogs off leash, and harassing hunters who had been invited onto the property to help control the deer population. In announcing the decision to post signs closing the property, Hanover Dept. of Public Works Director Peter Kulbacki said, “Needless to say, I am disappointed to have to even consider posting such a sign.” DPW, the Hanover Conservancy, Hanover Parks & Recreation, and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance have worked hard toward ensuring public access to these important lands, but all agree that the rules for use must be observed.  The public’s water supply is too valuable to treat lightly.

It’s not a problem simply solved by just catching and fining the violators – there is no staff available to patrol the property and enforce the rules, so the Trescott Company must depend upon users to comply voluntarily.

About hunting – Deer hunting is an essential forest management tool on the Trescott lands, not just another form of public recreation. Fencing and closing the land to the public 50 years ago created a de facto deer sanctuary, leading to population explosion. Deer browse tree and shrub sprouts so heavily that our foresters are having trouble regenerating the native forest that is so important to watershed health. Invasive buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and other non-natives arriving after the 2007 wind storm compounded the problem, as the deer avoided browsing them in favor of maple, oak, and other natives. NH Fish & Game Dept. biologists, alarmed at the obvious signs of heavy deer damage when they toured the property in 2011, advised inviting deer hunting immediately to try to bring the herd down to sustainable levels. This will not happen overnight, and steady, intense hunting pressure is needed to bring the browsers back into a healthy balance with the forest. Deer hunters must be properly licensed and obey all state hunting regulations, but they may NOT be harassed by the public while conducting what is essentially a public service.

*About trapping – Trapping to prevent giardia and cryptosporidium releases and prevent burrowing rodents from causing dam failures has been conducted on these lands for 120 years, focused on beavers, muskrats, and woodchucks.  More recently, coyotes have been trapped within the 250′ reservoir buffer because the trapper previously providing this service has retired, and the only person willing to take on the task would do so only if allowed to take coyote as well. Beaver hats are now out of style while coyote pelts are apparently not. DPW therefore agreed to this arrangement, but is looking for someone who will not harvest coyote. It’s quite true that coyotes’ help in controlling deer would be useful, but the need to protect the dams and water supply from beaver activity is a higher priority on these lands.

Download the TRAIL MAPTrescott Trails kiosk color-2016-01-21

HIKING GUIDE

NEW – Recreation Management Plan

Laced with Class VI roads and stunning views, the Trescott lands offer a marvelous area for hiking, XC skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking. The Hanover Conservancy is working with the Trescott Company (Town & College) on the challenging task of opening 1,165 acres of the lands to responsible public recreation while protecting our drinking water. The 178 acres surrounding the Parker and Fletcher Reservoirs remain closed to the public.

Priorities for the land remain:Trescott Logo

  1. Provide clean, pure drinking water
  2. Conduct careful forestry for clean water; manage deer to promote a healthy native forest
  3. Respectful recreation that does not interfere with forest management or threaten the water supply.

Rules for use –

  • Welcomed uses on shared trails: walking, hiking, snowshoeing, XC skiing, mountain biking, walking of leashed dogs, nature study, photography, scientific and historical research, geo-caching, orienteering, hunting,  horseback riding
  • Prohibited: motorized vehicles, swimming, fishing, boating, wading, camping, unleashed dogs, feeding waterfowl, alcohol.
  • Reservoirs and the orange-blazed 250′ buffer around them are off-limits
  • Carry in/carry out
  • Pick up after your pet – dogs must be leashed at all times
  • Stay off trails during muddy times
  • Yield to forestry vehicles
  • Daylight hours; open dawn to dusk only

The Town has built two parking areas and the Conservancy has provided trailhead kiosks and maps. A team of HC volunteers, Upper Valley Trails Alliance staff, the Trescott Co. foresters, and Hanover DPW has laid new trail routes safely away from the water. The reservoirs – source of our drinking water and therefore very sensitive places – and the 250′ buffer around them must remain closed to the public. Thanks to the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership for supporting the effort to open these lands.

Find the Trescott Geocaches!

Ecological threats – 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 an effort to control buckthorn without using herbicides on the drinking water supply watershed, experimental flaming is being used. View a video of this technique being used on these lands here. In other areas, dense growths of buckthorn are being mechanically cleared and the areas re-seeded with native plants.

In addition, the deer population on the restricted lands is well beyond their carrying capacity and deer are selectively browsing native seedlings and saplings, further contributing to the growth of invasives. The Conservancy supports the Trescott Company’s policy of allowing deer hunting on the property in order to promote healthy forest growth. The Hanover Conservancy has been invited by the Trescott Water Company to advise on the forest management plan for the watershed lands.

Ownership 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 owned by the Town. Previously, the Town held 47.2% of the Hanover Water Works and its land, and the College 52.8%.

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.

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.