Campaign Update | Featured News | In the media | New Hampshire

Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve and Wapack Trail back in the spotlight

The Wapack Trail is a scenic and historic gem of New England, but it is only as permanent as the land through which it passes. The Sawtelle Addition to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve would safeguard an essential, but as yet unprotected, conservation puzzle piece along the southern portion of the trail.

Rick Blanchette, President of Friends of the Wapack
A hiker enjoys ridgeline walking on the Wapack Trail and views of Mt. Monadnock from the Wapack Wilderness. Photo: Zack Porter

The spring sun is shining brightly on the Wapack Range, one of the natural gems of southern New Hampshire, and a landscape where Northeast Wilderness Trust has been a conservation leader for more than a decade in partnership with Friends of the Wapack.

Rewilding the Wapack

Arbor Day volunteers plant trees to restore a portion of the forest at the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve. Photo: Paul Willis.

In 2016, responding to a threat of a new suburban subdivision in the historic Wapack Trail corridor, the Wilderness Trust stepped in to purchase 488-acres, now known as the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve. This purchase connected conservation lands in New Hampshire, including the Wapack Wilderness easement (protected by Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2008) to conserved lands in Massachusetts.

The Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve was logged extensively in the past, so we were excited this spring to assist the rewilding process for one of the hardest hit areas of the forest, which had been used as a log landing. On Arbor Day, a team of ten volunteers joined Northeast Wilderness Trust Stewardship Director, Shelby Perry, for a day of tree planting. In total, 475 seedlings of a variety of native species were planted.

Binney Hill Preserve poised to expand to over 500-acres

Meanwhile, we are thrilled to announce a new project – the Sawtelle Addition – to expand the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve.

A scenic stretch of the Wapack Trail follows a boardwalk along the shore of Binney Pond in the proposed Sawtelle Addition to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve. Photo: Zack Porter

Between the forever-wild forests of the Wapack Wilderness easement and the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve lies the Sawtelle tract.  It is the critical missing link in the southern section of the Wapack Trail, and a critical migration route for wildlife.  Permanent protection of the Sawtelle property would widen one of the narrowest portions of the protected corridor by nearly half.  Winding through this small but critical parcel is an exceptionally scenic quarter-mile segment of the Wapack Trail.  

A bobcat was captured on film by one of our game cameras in early 2019 in the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve.

Tracking data and game cameras deployed on the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve confirm that a wide variety of species use this corridor regularly, including moose, bobcats, coyotes, and other wide-ranging mammals.  In 2015, the State of New Hampshire identified this area as the highest ranked habitat in the region in its Wildlife Action Plan.  

Securing a forever-wild future for the Sawtelle’s strategically-located parcel has benefits that far outweigh its modest size of 47 acres. Completion of this project will create a contiguous protected area of over 2,000 acres of wilderness—safeguarding the historic Wapack Trail for future generations, and conserving crucial habitat in a rapidly-developing area.

More than half of the $110,000 needed to permanently protect the Sawtelle Addition have already been raised.  Please donate today and help us get this project across the finish line!

Read more about our rewilding efforts and the Sawtelle Addition in this recent story by The Monadnock Ledger Transcript.

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