We all know that beautiful meadow on Greensboro Road – a space that brings us back to a time when this was a productive hayfield, the brook beyond provided trout and ice for the farm kitchen, and the woods on the bouldery slopes above yielded firewood and fenceposts. Today, these acres are a welcome natural backdrop to a residential neighborhood, a broad and generous open space that is such a welcome sight in days like these.
The Hanover Conservancy is proud to partner with the Town of Hanover and the Trust for Public Land in a major project to protect these 250 acres of upland forest, floodplain meadow, and corridor of Mink Brook, to be called the Mink Brook Community Forest.
The property, which straddles Greensboro Road, is composed of two main parcels. The forested north parcel stretches up a prominent hillside to its boundary with the Appalachian Trail corridor. On its northeast side is a high-value wetland that helps control the quality and flow of Mink Brook below. The open meadow, underlain by prime agricultural soils, blankets the south parcel from Greensboro Road to Mink Brook. Beyond, the property provides forested wildlife habitat that links with Rix Ledges in Lebanon.
Here, on one of the last large undeveloped properties remaining on the south side of town, the Mink Brook Community Forest has the potential to offer new trails for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing, with trail connections to adjacent conservation lands – the newly protected Hudson Farm and AT corridor to the north, and town-owned lands to the southeast. Forestry will continue, subject to a management plan developed with community input and overseen by a licensed forester. The project has already won a $600,000 grant from the US Forest Service, for which we thank our Congressional delegation and our friends at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for their support.
The conservation project will protect wildlife habitat for resident otter, mink, fisher, beaver, bear, bobcat, fox, turkey, and grassland birds, and visitors such as the moose shown above, photographed as she visited the meadow a few years ago.
Protecting the stream corridor will enhance habitat for wild brook trout. According to an ecological assessment of the property just completed by Dr. Rick van de Poll for TPL, “In terms of wildlife habitat, Mink Brook acts as an effective wildlife corridor up and downstream, as evidenced by the number of mammal species observed to be moving along the brook. The best upland/wetland corridor for wildlife was observed at the bend in Greensboro Road, where the steep boulder slope provided a near contiguous forest cover across Greensboro Road into the Mink Brook riparian corridor. Based on the land conservation patterns in the greater Greensboro Road area, this may be one of the best locales for wildlife movement from the highlands of Hanover down along Mink Brook to the Connecticut River.”
Ensuring this habitat connectivity is key to our efforts toward climate change resilience for our town.
The path to protection
For many years, our community has hoped that this special place could be protected. A look back in Hanover Conservancy files reveals that we began working on this possibility as early as 1998 – a generation ago! Later, the owners entered into an agreement with a Connecticut developer who planned to build 45 single-family homes, 41 town homes and a retirement community on the site. After years of uncertainty, the property was listed for sale once again, offering an opportunity that must not be missed. Once protected, the land will be conveyed to the Town of Hanover as a community forest and opened to the public.
The c. 1830 brick farmhouse, which once presided over a family farm, will be purchased and resold. An additional 3-4 acres nearby will be set aside, with the community’s agreement, for a small cluster of affordable cottage-style single family homes for workforce and/or first-time home buyers. This will help address a critical housing shortage in the region and take advantage of access to municipal water and sewer service.
With a lead gift from an anonymous Conservancy member, as well as anticipated municipal, state and federal dollars, the Mink Brook Community Forest project has the momentum needed to add a critical link in the greenway around Downtown Hanover. Please consider a generous gift to help complete this long-awaited conservation project and guarantee a future for this beautiful property that benefits all.