The Easton – Sugar Hill Community Forest is created with the conviction that a healthy, vibrant future for the people and environment of our region depends on a strong connection between land and people. The Community Forest is created to enrich that relationship.
Our region’s character, identity, heritage, and sense of place are rooted in the landscape. Our actions today will be just as important to people a century from now as the creation of the White Mountain National Forest a century ago is to us today. At a time of disconnection of people and nature – most alarmingly children from the outdoors – our future, not just here in New Hampshire’s North Country, but that of the planet – depends on people’s understanding, caring for, and intelligent use of our natural resources. The Community Forest is a place to foster understanding of interconnections between land and people.
This is a pivotal time for the creation of this Community Forest because of the changing nature of our region’s economy and demographics. Our region’s economic growth is increasingly reliant on tourism/outdoor recreation and second home investment. Many new residents and visitors do not have an understanding of forests, let alone forestry. This region will lose a key aspect of its history and its economic viability if the forests are seen only as scenery or for recreation. Therefore the Community Forest is created with the conviction that it will be a long-term timber resource and a place to grow people’s understanding of how working forests are integral to our region’s future economic prosperity.
Local ownership of a managed property can provide the community with a cash resource from sustainable management of the timber resource. Though significant revenue will not be realized from this parcel for decades, eventually there will be money generated to support: 1) The management of the property, and 2) Other needs and priorities identified by the community. Therefore the Community Forest will provide the communities of Easton and Sugar Hill with revenue to support sustainable management both on the property and in the community.
Similarly, the Community Forest is a place where people can experience and learn how natural systems, work, how a forest regenerates itself, how soil, water, geology, and topography interrelate with species, habitat, and natural communities. With education and understanding citizens will move from being consumers/users of the land to stewards, using the tools of good forestry and the science of conservation biology. This may translate directly to private landowners’ own management and land use decisions. Additionally, the Forest is a place for students to learn about the natural world outside of the classroom and to experience the land and its systems from the perspective of artists and writers as well as young scientists and naturalists. Therefore the Community Forest is established to be a learning environment for people of all ages.
This property provides significant habitat for this area. It is a young forest, very different than the nearby WMNF lands; young forests have been identified as a habitat that is losing acreage in New Hampshire each year. The soils data indicate the property will grow spruce and fir, another type of forest in decline in NH. Connecting landscapes to support various species, and connecting this property with neighboring conservation lands and other public ownerships will be beneficial. Therefore, this property under community ownership will be managed to provide an important and diverse habitat necessary in this landscape.
The Community Forest has superb outdoor recreation potential. Planning for its use, doing the work of trail construction, and then managing its use offers rich possibilities for growing connections among people and building skills in problem solving and cooperative enterprise. People will work together to construct trails that protect the land (soils, vegetation, wildlife) and accommodate a variety of users, from mountain bikers and horseback riders to backcountry skiers and snowmobilers. The Community Forest connects land and people, builds relationships across town and other boundaries, and will strengthen individuals’ and communities’ ability to work together on other issues and endeavors. Recreation in the Community Forest is both a key benefit, and an effective way to build social capital.