New Hampshire’s oldest local land trust is turning 60!
On March 14, 1961, five friends were alarmed when Hanover adopted its first town-wide zoning ordinance without the Nature Preserve zone recommended by the Town’s consultant. The vision was for a “green necklace” of protected natural lands surrounding Hanover’s urban center. Bob Norman, Carolyn Tenney, Jean Hennessey, George Wrightson, and Ted Hunter gathered after the meeting to decide what to do.
They weren’t alone. The very next day, a petition was filed to change the zoning of Pine Park and land along the Connecticut River down to Mink Brook, to add it to the Forestry and Recreation zone. 100 conservation-minded folks signed on. [view petition here]
Bob Norman recalls that the group quickly mobilized to ensure that their request to protect the town’s natural assets was indeed constitutional. Bob wrote federal and state politicians, including Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, and Carolyn wrote members of the U.S. Supreme Court (receiving replies!).
The next year, the team successfully supported adding the Nature Preserve zone, but they were just getting started. They continued to meet about ways to promote local conservation, first as a nameless group (to avoid stimulating any controversy, according to Bob). They incorporated as the Hanover Conservation Council in 1963 and scored their first riverfront protection victory in 1964 by coordinating efforts for NH Fish & Game to purchase the 43-acre Wilder Wildlife Management Area in Lyme.
About today’s Mink Brook Community Forest: On February 15, 2006, then-president Jim Hornig wrote to the Valley News, “”The Hanover Conservation Council applauds the decision of the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to require a new, independent assessment of the extent and nature of wetlands in the project areas on Greensboro Road currently proposed for development…the proposed Paragon project is large and challenging…”
Jim continued, “The Council places very high priority on protection of Mink Brook and its associated floodplain. For many years, we have engaged property owners along Mink Brook in discussions about protecting their high natural resource value lands from development.” [view letter]
Throughout the year, we’ll offer tidbits and insights from our archives as we look forward to a 60th anniversary celebration in the fall.