Trescott Water Supply Lands

October view of Mt. Ascutney and Velvet Rocks from the Trescott lands. Photo by Jim Block.

The vast lands that provide Hanover’s drinking water supply comprise one of the largest undeveloped and ecologically significant tracts remaining in town. With their well-managed forests, prime habitat, and excellent farm soils, the Trescott lands offer crucial connectivity for wildlife between Oak Hill and the protected Appalachian Trail corridor.

Priorities for the Trescott Water Supply Lands:

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

Trescott Trails kiosk color-2016-01-21Trail Map 2019

Recreation Management Plan


RULES FOR USETrescott Logo

Our drinking water comes from these lands. Please help keep this beautiful area open for all to enjoy, by observing these simple rules:

  • The reservoirs are strictly off-limits, frozen or not – no swimming, wading, boating, fishing, skating or walking on ice
  • 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. Pet waste must be carried out. Trapping occurs here (to protect the dams from burrowing animals) and your dog will be safer on a leash. If your dog needs to run free, this isn’t the place.
  • 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, camping, feeding waterfowl, alcohol
  • Stay off trails during muddy times
  • Yield to forestry vehicles
  • Daylight hours; open dawn to dusk only
  • Carry in/carry out

It’s easy to sound unfriendly here, but it’s important to protect our community’s drinking water.  

About recreation – Laced with trails and stunning views, the Trescott lands offer hiking, XC skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking. In 2016 the Hanover Conservancy worked 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 Town built two parking areas (at Trescott and Dogford Roads) and the Conservancy provided trailhead kiosks and maps.  Thanks to the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership for supporting the effort to open these lands. New trails and bridges were built in 2017.

The Trescott Recreation Committee, representing Hanover’s Dept. of Public Works, Hanover Conservancy, Hanover Trails Committee, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Hanover Parks and Recreation Dept., and interested neighbors, manages the trails and public use.

Use of these lands is a privilege, not a right. Multiple use violations forced closure of the Trescott lands in Fall, 2016, when people were observed kayaking and fishing in the reservoirs, running dogs off leash, and harassing hunters who had been invited to help control the deer population. The Trescott Recreation Committee worked with the Hanover Department of Public Works to safely re-open the lands a few months later. This included:

  • 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 rules for use. (If you’d like to help, get in touch). Thank you, volunteers!

About hunting Deer hunting is an essential forest management tool here, not just another form of recreation. Fencing the land 50 years ago created a de facto deer sanctuary, leading to a population explosion. Deer browse young trees so heavily that foresters are having trouble regenerating the native forest so important to watershed health. Invasive buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), arriving after a 2007 wind storm, compounded the problem as deer avoided them in favor of maple, oak, and other natives. NH Fish & Game biologists, alarmed at obvious signs of heavy deer damage, advised inviting hunting to reduce the herd. Steady, intense hunting pressure is needed to bring the browsers back into a healthy balance with the forest to protect the water supply. Hunters must be properly licensed and obey all state regulations, but may NOT be harassed by the public while performing this public service. Hikers using the trails during hunting season should wear blaze orange.

About trapping Trapping, to prevent giardia and cryptosporidium releases and prevent burrowing rodents from causing dam failures, has occurred 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 only person willing to take on the task would do so only if allowed to take coyote. DPW therefore agreed to this arrangement, but is looking for someone who will not harvest coyote. While coyotes’ help in controlling deer would be useful, the need to protect the dams and water supply from beaver activity is a higher priority.

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.

An Historic Place – In the 19th century, these lands were home to 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. An 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 1892 and the Fletcher Reservoir built in 1893 (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.

Who owns these lands?  In 2010 the Town and College created the Trescott Water 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 solely by the Town. Previously, the Town held 47.2% of the Hanover Water Works and its land, and the College 52.8%.

Are the water supply lands protected from development?  State and local ordinances and current zoning do not provide adequate long-term protection against future development. The Hanover Conservancy agrees with the Town of Hanover’s Master Plan (2003) and Open Space Priorities Plan that this land should be permanently protected.