Moose Mountain East
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Moose Mountain East (MME) is the entire area of Hanover to the east of Moose Mountain. Within 1/2 hour drive of downtown and easily accessed by scenic dirt roads, the area includes Town Forest, a designated natural preserve, old farms, recreation areas, seasonal homes, and a portion of Goose Pond. The Appalachian Trail is nearby.
MME is an extraordinarily rich reservoir of resources, including an important watershed feeding the Mascoma River, and extensive forests which provide wildlife habitat and offer opportunities for renewal of ecological resources (air and water) and the human spirit. The character of the land is basically wilderness and recreational, with some active forestry. Thus far, remoteness and zoning appear to have effectively preserved the character of the area, but population growth is beginning to be felt. Year-round homes are being built on contiguous land in neighboring towns, and more seasonal homes are springing up along some dirt roads in Hanover. They do not impact the environment tremendously at this time, but they are the forerunner of further growth that will have increasing effects.
This area is on the southwest edge of a huge forested block that includes large portions of Orford, Wentworth, Lyme, Dorchester, Canaan, Groton and Orange. Goose Pond Road, not only sparsely developed, lies between MME and the huge wild block of land. More intense development would create a barrier to wildlife. To the east and south MME is bordered by development in neighboring towns, some of which have no zoning.
As one drives from Canaan or Lebanon, one notices a startling contrast in the use of land. Intense use creates the disharmony of small lots in a broken landscape, multiple motorized machines and networking roads. Small lots with multiple buildings give way at the Hanover line to large tracts of forested land. If no attempts are made to preserve it, the land in MME may also be broken into small lots for seasonal dwellings. The character of the area may change until it no longer provides a natural respite for either people or animals.
The threat to this area is the creeping development of camps and seasonal dwellings. Current zoning allows seasonal homes with no limit to their size or impact. As there become more and more of them, they will fragment the quiet expanse of MME. Pressure from neighboring towns can already be felt as people drive motorized recreational vehicles through the area. Foresight and action at this time will benefit the whole town. If the area is protected soon, it will be a permanent refuge for use by residents to revive spirit and soul, and to remember an important reason why so many choose to live here. Just as importantly, it will be a permanent, outstanding wildlife habitat, enhancing the biodiversity and quality of life for a large variety of indigenous species. Moose Mountain East possesses abundant water resources. (Photo in print edition)
Open Space Benefits
- Water Supply - Committee Meadow Brook supplies water to the Enfield Water Supply reservoir, which is just over the Hanover border.
- Surface Water - This area is generously supplied with water from springs, wetlands and surface runoff flowing into brooks (Tunis, Pressey, Scales, Lovejoy, Straw, or Committee Meadow) or directly into Goose Pond, and then into Lake Mascoma, the Mascoma River and eventually into the Connecticut River.
- Wetlands - There are major wetlands in this area, including those within the Marshall/Pressey Brook area, and many smaller wetlands along the brooks. Some are created by beavers. These wetlands provide year-round habitat for a rich variety of flora and fauna.
- Wildlife Habitat - MME is part of a forested block more than 25,000 acres in size, portions of which are located in seven abutting or nearby towns. It is a haven for wildlife. The slopes of Moose Mountain are important winter habitat for moose. The Hanover segment of the block is intensively hunted for moose, deer, turkey and grouse. Coyote, bear, fox, porcupine and lynx have been spotted. A variety of birds reside here, and a lush variety of plants from ferns and mushrooms to towering trees of many species. The standing forests support a complex ecosystem of wildlife. Edge conditions and open land is provided by former farmland whose fields are still mowed.
- Biodiversity - Protection efforts should focus on the wetland complex for its wildlife habitat value, and on buffering forestlands. (Natural Communities and Rare Plants of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1999)
- Productive Soils - Former farms dot the area, but no active farming occurs today.
- Recreation - Fishing and hunting are practiced in the area. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) traffic on smaller trails and Class VI roads is active, and snowmobiles are driven over the open landscape in the winter. Slight slopes and large land expanses make this a prime area for development of a network of cross-country ski trails. Birdwatching and hiking are popular, as is boating on Goose Pond, and kayaking on Marshall Brook. No formal parking is available.
- Connections and Buffers - This area is more than a greenbelt. It is a "green robe" around the outskirts of Hanover. Its most significant connection is with the forest block in the nearby towns (see "Wildlife Habitat"). This land is also close to and connectable with the Appalachian Trail as it runs along the ridgeline of Moose Mountain. A protected corridor could be established from the Appalachian Trail (AT) down along Lovejoy Brook and into Enfield, providing significant wildlife protection as well as recreational opportunity.
- Class VI Roads - Class VI portions of Wolfeboro Road and Goss Road Extension extend from MME up over the ridge of the mountain. Pasture Road, Stewart Land, Old Nathan Merrill Road, Mountain Road Extension, and North Tunis Road are Class VI roads in MME.
- Scenic Assets - The South Peak of Moose Mountain provides an impressive view. The viewshed should be protected. Goose Pond is listed on the High Priority Action List in the Scenic Locales report, as is Moose Mountain. It is refreshing to visit this part of Hanover and relax into its quiet wilderness and beauty.
- Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - The Bill farm, which dates from the 1950s, is still being brush-hogged by the family, but the land is not being tilled. Other generational farms are located here, but are not being worked except, in some cases, for maple sugaring. Old cemeteries are still preserved.
- Education - MME is a virtual classroom for ecological studies - wildlife, wildflower identification, ecological sub-system demonstration, forest successional stages, bird identification, and geological formations.