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Slade Brook has been a relatively unknown area of Hanover that in recent years has gotten more attention as the population of rural Hanover has grown.
In the early days of the Hanover settlement, the brook was the site of a slate quarry for tombstones (and perhaps other uses). In the early 1800s, a family named Slade settled near Slate Brook on the Hanover Center Road. Some think that mapmakers got confused, and changed the name from Slate Brook to Slade Brook sometime thereafter.
Slade Brook rises in the wetlands and steep slopes between Two and Three Mile Roads in Hanover Center. The Brook passes westerly under Two Mile Road and then on down through forested land, under Lyme and River Roads to the Connecticut River. For most of its length, it passes through undeveloped land.
Some of the land adjacent to Slade Brook (west of Two Mile road) has been protected, perhaps 30 to 40% of its length. One parcel owned by James Kennedy, and a very large parcel owned by Samuel and Joanna Doyle, have conservation easements held by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission. Just below the Doyles' property, Slade Brook flows through an old narrow slate quarry (on privately held land), causing spectacular waterfalls during high water periods. There is also a beautiful waterfall on the west side of Lyme Road.
The Slade Brook corridor is largely undeveloped and composed of large tracts of land. It is arguably the most important greenbelt and wildlife habitat in northern Hanover because it connects the Moose Mountain area with the Connecticut River.
Open Space Benefits
- Water Supply - The upper reaches of Slade Brook in and east of the Kennedy property contain large areas of hydric soils, and thus are important areas for groundwater recharge. (Photo in print edition) Much of the length of Slade Brook is protected by conservation easements held by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission.
- Surface Water - Slade Brook flows westerly from Hanover Center to the Connecticut River, falling steeply about 700 feet in approximately 2 miles. (In contrast, the Connecticut River falls only about 400 feet in the 200-mile distance between Hanover and Long Island Sound.) Slade Brook's origins are between Two and Three Mile Roads in a forested area marked by wetlands, beaver ponds and sharply incised streambeds.
- Wetlands - There are three major wetlands along the length of Slade brook. The uppermost area straddles Three Mile Road and forms the source of Slade Brook. Another large wetland (located east of Two Mile Road) contains the remains of four beaver ponds. The dams have been breached, but they are still in place, as is a large beaver lodge. The third area lies west of Two Mile Road on the Kennedy property. A pond has been built in part of this wetland.
- Wildlife Habitat - Most of the area along Slade Brook is undeveloped, providing undisturbed wildlife habitat. From Two Mile Road down to the vicinity of Old Lyme Road, the Slade Brook area is a major deer winter habitat area. The wetlands between Two and Three Mile Roads have long had beaver dams and beaver. Deer, porcupine, pheasant, grouse, fisher and fox abound in this area, as do birds of prey. Bear and moose are also frequently observed.
- Biodiversity - The area is largely forested with mixed hard and soft woods species. There is a full complement of woodland plants including ferns and flowering species. (Natural Communities and Rare Plants of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1999)
- Productive Soils - In the upper reaches of Slade Brook the soils are shallow and poorly drained. Prime agricultural soils lie just to the east of Two Mile Road. The area west of Two Mile Road is steeply sloping, the soils are deeper, and the brook is sharply incised.
- Recreation - Nearly the entire length of the corridor contains numerous hiking and skiing trails on private land. The trails on the Doyle and Kennedy properties are permanently open to the public. All of the trails are maintained by residents of the Slade Brook area.
- Connections and Buffers - Protection of Slade Brook and the Hanover Center areas would establish a greenbelt running northwesterly from the intersection of the Appalachian Trail with the Cory Road to the Connecticut River. This would complete a greenbelt running from the Connecticut River in Hanover to Hanover Center via the Appalachian Trail and back to the Connecticut River again, including the Monahan Valley area and the former route of the Appalachian Trail near the Hanover Center reservoir. Connection would also be made to the Dartmouth Outing Club network and the Appalachian Trail on Moose Mountain to the east.
- Class VI Roads - Spencer Road runs along the southwesterly boundary of the Slade Brook corridor, connecting Dogford and Old Lyme Roads. This Class VI road is heavily overgrown in its upper reaches, but is open for foot travel along most of its length.
- Scenic Assets - Spectacular views of distant mountains in Vermont are visible from the fields on the Doyle property.
- Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - Several old cellar holes remain in the Slade Brook area. Much of the area was open farmland and sheep pasture in the 1800s. Slade Brook contains an old slate quarry (now an impressive waterfall during times of high water) just to the west of the Doyle protected lands.
- Education - The area provides an opportunity for observation of diverse wildlife habitat and landforms.
- Productive Soils - Soil properties such as depth, permeability, wetness, slope and susceptibility to erosion, define the lands' capability to support development and grow crops, trees or pasture grasses. Prime agricultural soils and those of statewide importance are the town's most productive soils for food production. Similarly, forest soils have been categorized for their ability to grow marketable timber. Preserving the most productive forest and agricultural soils in tracts large enough for economically viable forestry and farming is a necessary component of protecting the town's natural resource base, wildlife habitat and diversity, scenic resources, and rural character.
- Recreation - Outdoor recreation is highly valued in Hanover in all seasons of the year. It takes many forms - from the solitary enjoyment of a wildflower to a scout group hilltop hike. The benefits range from spiritual replenishment to good health. Lands that offer personal or socially interactive, active or passive recreation, are essential elements of the open space system. Universal access should be provided at a variety of appropriate places where development of such access will not compromise the character of the area. Connections between open spaces, and between trails, are important for people and wildlife. (Photos in print edition)
- Connection and Buffers - Lands that provide connections between trail segments, or between parcels that allow public access, are valuable to the overall open space system. These connections improve recreational opportunities and provide wildlife with routes to different populations of the same species (important for health of the population), food sources and additional habitat. Some lands provide buffers for trail and recreation corridors or waterways that protect the ecological stability and viability of an already-established park or conservation area. They also provide significant open space buffers between settlements and contribute positively to the open space system.
- Class VI Roads - Class VI roads are an important recreation resource. Class VI roads are public rights-of-way. They include all discontinued roads subject to gates and bars, or any road that has not been maintained by the town in suitable condition for travel for five successive years or more. Although towns have no duty to maintain them, Class VI roads are full public highways over which the public has a right to pass at its own risk. Class VI roads often provide connections to existing trails, or other Class VI road segments. They can provide important links within the open space system. One goal of the Open Space Priorities Plan is to sustain the scenic and visual character of Hanover.
- Scenic Assets - Open space resources that are identified by Something for Everyone, the report of Hanover's Scenic Locales Committee (1998), are highly valued by the public and thus should receive special consideration in the prioritizing of open space lands to be conserved. Lands that contribute to the protection of a view should be considered a high priority, as well as the places from which viewing can take place. The natural skyline of the ridges in Hanover is an important visual component of the local landscape. For that reason, natural ridgelines and hilltops are an important element of the open space system.
- Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - Important elements of the open space system are structures of traditional use (for example, stone walls, dams, barns, sugar houses), and/or land that protects and conserves an area of significant local or regional historic interest.
- Education - If land, due to its natural characteristics and ease of accessibility, provides unique or unusual opportunities for natural or scientific education, it should be protected as a component of the open space system.
This bridge, located on Cory Road (a Class VI road), is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photos in print edition)