IN PROGRESS: The Sawtelle Addition

Expanding the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve for wildlife and people

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

Moose frequent
the shallow wetlands of Binney Pond and the Sawtelle Addition. Photo: ©Susan C. Morse

“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 and resident of New Ipswich, NH

 

Please help Northeast Wilderness Trust permanently protect this critical corridor for wildlife and quiet recreation along the historic Wapack Trail in southern New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region.

 

Location    New Ipswich, NH
Size              47 acres
Cost             $110,000
Habitat      Hardwood and mixed conifer forest; riparian and wetland habitat
Creatures Moose, black bear, bobcat, white-tail deer, beaver, waterfowl, and a variety of amphibian species
Threat        Timber harvest, motorized recreation, subdivision
Values       Intact low-elevation wildlife habitat, rich in biodiversity, that is underrepresented in protected areas across the region and the US

Acquiring this property will:

  • Protect the entire Binney Pond shoreline in conjunction with the State of NH’s Binney Pond Natural Area
  • Safeguard high quality wetland habitat for amphibians and birds
  • Protect a quarter-mile of the historic Wapack Trail, a long distance hiking route stretching 21.5 miles from Mt. Watatic in Massachusetts to North Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire.
  • Expand a critical North-South wildlife corridor in the Quabbin to Cardigan conservation focus area.

 

Donate now to help protect the Sawtelle Addition

to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve!

 

You can alternatively send a check payable to Northeast Wilderness Trust.
Write Sawtelle Addition in the memo line.

A hiker on the Wapack Trail in the Binney Pond Natural Area. Photo: Zack Porter

In the summer of 1922, Allen Chamberlain, who would later become president of the Appalachian Mountain Club, met Marion Davis of New Ipswich, NH and Frank Robbins of Rindge and together envisioned a skyline trail from Mt. Watatic to North Pack Monadnock. A year later, the Wapack Trail was open. The name “Wapack” was creatively derived from the route’s bookend summits.

Though the trail was used by many in its early days, it fell into disrepair by World War II. The rebirth of the Wapack Trail was championed by Friends of the Wapack, founded in 1980. Although the Friends rehabilitated the trail and helped it regain popularity, much of it remained vulnerable to development. Over the years, protections have been added along the length of the 21.5-mile Wapack Trail to safeguard both habitat and access.

In 2008 the southern reach of the Wapack Trail got a lot wilder when Northeast Wilderness Trust partnered with Hampshire Country School and protected the 1,428-acre Wapack Wilderness with a forever-wild easement. Then in 2016, responding to a threat of a new suburban subdivision just south of the Wapack Wilderness, the Wilderness Trust stepped in to purchase 488-acres, now known as the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve.

The view from Pratt Mountain along the scenic Wapack Trail takes in the Sawtelle Addition, Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, Wapack Wilderness Forever-Wild Easement, and Binney Pond Natural Area. Photo: Zack Porter


Great Blue Herons are one of many birds that make use of wetlands on the Sawtelle Addition. Photo: ©Susan C. Morse

Between the forever-wild forests of Binney Hill and the Wapack Wilderness is where the story of the Sawtelle Addition begins. It is the missing link in the southern section of the Wapack Trail and a critical migration route for wildlife. Alongside the State of New Hampshire’s Binney Pond Natural Area, purchase of the tract would protect the entire Binney Pond shoreline. Winding through this small but critical parcel is a scenic quarter-mile segment of the Wapack Trail.

The Sawtelle Addition is in a location where the movement of species in response to climate change is concentrated through a narrow area. Game cameras on the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve confirm that a variety of species use this corridor regularly, including moose, bobcats, coyotes, and other mammals. In 2015, the State of New Hampshire identified this area as the highest ranked habitat in the region in its Wildlife Action Plan.


This parcel wasn’t always slated for conservation.  Ken and Shirley Sawtelle purchased the property on Binney Hill Road in the 1970’s for recreation and a source of firewood.  They enjoyed hiking on the Wapack Trail, taking in the view of Binney Hill Pond, and in the spring, the wildflowers put on breathtaking shows of mountain laurel, trailing arbutus, lady slippers and trillium.  In 1986, they built their dream home and settled in with the wildlife.  After the passing of Kenneth in 2018, a portion of the land is being reasonably offered to the Northeast Wilderness Trust to add to the neighboring preserve.

The wetlands of the Sawtelle Addition provide living space for beavers, moose, waterfowl, and a variety of amphibians. Photo: Zack Porter

The family of beavers that Shirley has come to love on her property have been making travel difficult on West Binney Hill Road, one of the primary ways to access the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve. History shows us that when beavers interfere with roadways, the beavers often lose. As part of this proposed conservation project, the Wilderness Trust will install wildlife-friendly structures to allow the beavers to continue living on both sides of the road, while regulating the water depth to maintain access to the Preserve.

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.

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