Conservation Commission to support Rose Mountain project

LYNDEBOROUGH – If all goes as planned, 189 acres on the summit of Rose Mountain in Lyndeborough will soon be protected from development, although protecting them from erosion-causing ATV use is another matter.

The Piscataquog Land Conservancy, a New Boston-based group that owns property or conservation easements on thousands of acres of land in a dozen towns throughout the Piscataquog River watershed, wants to buy the property from town residents Edward and Jane Hager.

The group is trying to raise $170,000, which includes money for closing costs and money to support long-term stewardship of this and similar properties.

“We have had some conversations over the years about this property,” said Chris Wells, PLC president. “That’s often the case with land conservation. You talk a bit, it goes away, it comes back, goes away, comes back.”

Meanwhile, the Lyndeborough Conservation Commission has decided to contribute $20,000 of its dedicated funds toward the purchase of an easement on the 189 acres.

The actual vote on the plan was continued until 7 p.m., May 14, because of the timing of the meeting notice. Those interested in the project are invited to attend.

The Pinnacle and Winn Mountain – have long been popular recreation sites for hiking, biking, hunting, snowmobiling and off-road vehicle use. They are covered by trails and “woods roads,” used by logging crews. Many trails are marked on various websites, even if official signs and blazes are rare.

Wells said all these activities would still be welcome if PLC buys the Hager land, except for off-road wheeled vehicles, because of ATV’s propensity to cause erosion, especially on uphill trails, and to harm wetlands.

“We’re not doing this to be jerks, we’re doing this because it does real damage,” said Wells.

PLC owns land and easements in other parts of the Lyndeborough Mountains that is posted against ATVs, but struggles with illegal vehicle use on them, he said.

“That is part of the whole management planning – how are we going to manage public access, public recreation. We’re working with Fish and Game, and local law enforcement as needed,” he said.

PLC would probably place some gates, trying to keep out ATVs, and use other techniques such as hidden cameras to protect the property.

Wells said PLC has no issue with the Wilton Lyndeborough Winter Wanderers, the local snowmobile club, continuing to operate on trails if it buys the property.

“Where there are existing snowmobile trails, on club-maintained trails, our plan and intention is that we’ll maintain them,” he said.

Snowmobiles, because they usually operate when the ground is frozen and covered with snow, do much less environmental damage than wheeled off-road vehicles. They also have a much longer history in New Hampshire, with organized clubs that provide more control and oversight in return for some state funding to help maintain trails.

Wells said that if the sale goes through, PLC would look at whether it would be possible to clear some of the peak, both to provide better views and to make it look more like it did a century ago, when trees were cut and brush was burned as part of blueberry cultivation. “To this day, the blueberries on the summit are worth the trip in season,” said a report in the PLC newsletter.

Details of any changes on or near the summit will depend on what can be done.

“We’ll have to do a management study, see where are vernal pools, sensitive wetland areas, figure out what we want to do up there,” said Wells.

For more details, or to donate, check the PLC website at www.plcnh.org.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531, dbrooks@nashua telegraph.com or @GraniteGeek. Corresponent Jessie Salisbury contributed to this story.