Aided by state grant, Hanover Conservancy protects 140 acres on Moose Mountain


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-02-2024 7:05 AM

Modified: 01-04-2024 4:21 PM

HANOVER — A $250,000 state grant will help conserve 140 acres of land on Moose Mountain.

The grant, announced earlier this month, is one of the largest ever received by the Hanover Conservancy, said Adair Mulligan, executive director of the nonprofit land trust. The property is prime for conservation for a number of reasons, including wildlife habitat and floodplain preservation.

It’s also where Sarah Kendall, 63, grew up as a middle child of five siblings. The land was carefully maintained for 60 years by her father, Richard Kendall.

“Moose Mountain was our playground,” Sarah said. 

When their father died in November 2022, the Kendall siblings — now mostly spread across the country — agreed among themselves, wistfully, to sell the property. The Hanover Conservancy was quick to reach out, and the Kendall family agreed to hold the land off the open market in order to give the trust time to assemble initial funding for purchase.

Had it fallen into less conservation-minded hands, development would have interrupted a 3,000-acre contiguous tract of conserved land, Mulligan said. A hypothetical house might have stood “in the way of a bobcat moving from property A to property B,” she said. 

Mulligan’s organization purchased the land for $1.2 million on Oct. 5 with the help of a large loan from The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit. Repayment of the loan will be aided by the $250,000 contributed by the State of New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP, which funds conservation and historic preservation projects across the state.

Recipients must match, or exceed, each dollar contributed by LCHIP, and so in addition to the funds from the state, the rest will be made up through private fundraising and grants, Mulligan said. 

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The parcel of land is home to the source of Mink Brook, which runs through Hanover to the Connecticut River and is one of the state’s highest producing brook trout streams. The Moose Mountain property also provides essential flood security to Etna Village and other neighborhoods downstream.  

With climate change and the increasingly wet summers the Upper Valley has weathered, the workings of land upstream could post flood hazards to Etna, Mulligan said. 

“Whenever we can protect land upstream of it, we’re creating a sponge,” she said. “Whatever happens up in the headwaters directly affects downstream.”

The only other LCHIP grant for conserving land in Hanover was to conserve Mink Brook Community Forest, which is now owned by the Town of Hanover. 

Across 25 projects, this year’s LCHIP grants — administered by an independent state agency governed by members of the public appointed by the governor, as well as state officials — will support the rehabilitation of 12 historic buildings and the permanent conservation of 4,300 acres of land. 

LCHIP grants, funded through a $25 surcharge assessed when a deed, mortgage, mortgage discharge or plan is recorded in New Hampshire, can be made to municipalities or nonprofits. 

The Moose Mountain parcel will be added to thousands of acres of contiguously conserved forested land, including the Appalachian Trail corridor and the Mayor-Niles and Britton Forests, the latter two protected by the Hanover Conservancy as well. 

The public can access the property by the Class VI Wolfeboro Road and the Harris Trail, and the conservancy is planning trail improvement events for this winter, Mulligan said. 

“Us, as a family, are really happy to have this land go into conservation,” Sarah Kendall said. “My dad found his peace in the world up there in the woods.”

She listed off the names of childhood monuments on the family’s old property: “There was octopus tree, elephant tree, table rock — that’s still there actually,” she said. She described “bear tree” too, a big birch that a bear had left scratch marks on decades ago, and has now fallen to the ground.

If it had been developed and lopped into several parcels, private owners could have posted their properties, restricting public access. “And it’s really important to us that we can still go up there as a family, that my children can go up there and see all of that stuff,” Kendall said. 

The public can too now, keeping an eye out for the felled “bear tree.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at or 603-727-3242. 

CORRECTION: The Kendall family kept their 140-acre property on  Moose Mountain off the open market to give the Hanover Conservancy time to assemble the initial funding for purchase. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the status of the property before the conservancy’s purchase.