Set on the western flank of Moose Mountain, the 79-acre Britton Forest is the generous gift of Doug and Katharine Britton of Norwich on October 31, 2018. The Britton family has owned the land for nearly three-quarters of a century.
The forested parcel cloaks the west slope of the iconic Moose Mountain ridge just below the North Peak, surrounded on three sides by permanently protected and/or public land. On the east is an expanse of National Park Service lands surrounding the corridor of the Appalachian Trail. To the south is the Conservancy’s own Mayor-Niles Forest, given to the Conservancy in 2017. To the north is the Plummer Tract, owned by the Town of Hanover.
How to get there
Parking for 3-4 cars is available at the end of Ibey Road, off the north end of Three Mile Road. Walk up Plummer Hill Road (Class VI, unmaintained) 1/4 mile past the entrance to the Conservancy’s Mayor-Niles Forest. The Black Bear Loop begins on your right after the first stream crossing.
The Black Bear Loop trail was built in Summer 2020 with the Upper Valley Trails Alliance’s High School Trail Corps and volunteers from Hypertherm. You can also find an unexpected vernal pool in spring by following the Class VI Plummer Hill Road in from Ibey Road; the pool is in the middle of the road! Hunting for deer is permitted in season; no other hunting or trapping is allowed.
The Britton Forest was the generous gift of Doug and Katharine Britton of Norwich on October 31, 2018. The Britton family has owned the land for nearly three-quarters of a century. A network of stone walls laces the land, indicating its 19th-century past as sheep pasture. The land has been cleared for much of its recent past, but now is completely forested.
Black bear, moose, snowshoe hare, red fox, grouse, deer, and likely bobcat inhabit the Britton Forest. The Conservancy plans to inventory the property’s plants, birds, and wildlife before deciding on future management. A network of stone walls laces the land, indicating its 19th-century past as sheep pasture. The Britton Forest is open at all seasons for recreation, including hunting. Stone wall-lined Plummer Hill Road, a Class VI road, gives access to the land, and the Harris Trail follows the west side.
One need not visit the property to enjoy it – it is easily visible even from Vermont, part of the scenic view of Moose Mountain that forms a beautiful backdrop to the town of Hanover.
“Protecting this property accomplishes a number of the Conservancy’s strategic conservation goals,” observes Adair Mulligan, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “It provides an unbroken link in valuable wildlife habitat and expands the protected higher elevation lands that create resilience to climate change. These cooler, unfragmented forests will become an increasingly critical refuge for birds and other wildlife.”
The Britton Forest supports flood security for neighborhoods below by protecting streams that flow into Hewes Brook. Forested headwaters regulate stream flow, mitigating microbursts and washouts. Shaded stream banks also ensure a brook’s health downstream by keeping water clear and cool.
“The Hanover Conservancy appreciates the fore-sighted generosity of landowners like Doug Britton,” says Adair Mulligan, Executive Director of the Hanover Conservancy. “We hope his example encourages other Moose Mountain landowners to consider the future of this wild and scenic region of our town.”
Britton has also thoughtfully provided a contribution toward the Conservancy’s transaction costs. Mulligan said the group hopes others will join him, to help cover expenses of inventorying natural features, trail building, blazing boundaries, and caring for the land into the future. A small grant for transaction expenses was provided by the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership, a public/private effort to protect the Monadnock Highlands of western New Hampshire and north central Massachusetts.