We are working with our Town partner, the Hanover Conservation Commission, to permanently protect the South Esker, a 14-acre forest on the Connecticut River at Hanover’s southwest corner. The Town has owned the land since 1971, when we helped purchase the parcel. Towering forests laced with trails offer a cool summer retreat near the river, in a place marked by the passage of the glacier.
The South Esker is part of a mosaic of natural lands acquired through the Hanover Conservancy (then known as the Hanover Conservation Council). These include our own Mink Brook Nature Preserve (1999) and the Town’s Mink Brook Natural Area (1973) and Tanzi Tract (1967). Like these neighbors, the South Esker offers a network of well-loved public foot trails and a peaceful waterfront retreat. They’re all an easy walk from downtown Hanover, Dartmouth College, in-town neighborhoods, and Sachem Village. The well-marked trailhead is located on the drive through the Pine Knoll Cemetery. Inundation of this area by Wilder Dam has changed it significantly. At right, compare this 1939 photo of the area with the one above.
Why A Conservation Easement Now?
Hanover Town Meeting voted on May 9, 2017 to approve a conservation easement on the property. Back in 1970, when land protection was a new idea in Hanover, we worked with the owner to convey his riverfront land to the Town and raised local funds to match a federal grant. Forty years later, the practice of land conservation has matured. It has become clear that the South Esker’s old deed restriction is not enough to keep it safe for the future, and could actually lead to legal complications for the Town, the former owner, and HC. What will a 21st-century conservation easement do?
- Ensure that an extra pair of hands – and second set of eyes—are focused on caring for this land
- Enlist the Conservancy’s help to create a full natural resources study and management plan for the property and its trails
- Protect the riverfront forest for birds and wildlife, including resting bald eagles
- Result in a new trail map and guide.
- Offer permanent protection at no net cost to the Town.
June 8, 2017