The Harvey family has long welcomed neighbors like Todd Hathaway to enjoy the rugged New Hampshire forest they have owned since 1755. “It’s a cool place to ride a horse or bike or ski,” said Hathaway. “You can go to the highest point in our town, hit really low spots with wetlands and beaver dams, and everything in between. There are huge boulders and really neat ridges to ride along. You always run into some surprise in terms of wildlife.”
After the Open Space Institute helped the Southeast Land Trust (SELT) of New Hampshire to conserve the forest last year, Hathaway and the Harveys discovered that the very elevations, landforms, and habitats that make the forest so much fun to explore are also hallmarks of what ecologists call “climate resilience characteristics” – land features that allow plant and animal species to adapt locally to changes in temperature and weather patterns.
Now, thanks in part to OSI’s leadership in applying the science of climate resilience to on-the-ground conservation, the 1,114-acre Harvey Forest in Epping and Nottingham counties is part of a swath of conserved lands in the highly resilient, fast-developing coastal region of New Hampshire. A conservation easement purchased with a grant from OSI preserves woods, wetlands, and wildlife diversity, and guarantees that the land will remain open to the public for generations to come.
Harvey Forest is one of eight climate-resilient properties totaling almost 12,000 acres that OSI helped safeguard through grants and loans in 2016, including five projects in Tennessee, one in Pennsylvania, and another in New Hampshire, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. OSI is also helping land trusts incorporate climate science into their work through conservation planning grants and a recently published guide, Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate: A Three-Part Guide for Land Trusts in the Northeast.
The Harvey land was conserved after Dan and Louise Harvey – who are in their nineties and will leave the forest to their eight children – approached SELT about selling a conservation easement on the property. OSI was one of the first funders on board. The Harvey’s neighborhood is experiencing a lot of development pressure, and Harvey Forest could have been subdivided into 285 lots, according to SELT’s land conservation director Duane Hyde.