Jack & Margaret Hoffman
In recent years, the Merrimac River Watershed has lost significant forested habitat. The 130-acre Jack & Margaret Hoffman Wilderness Sanctuary in Francestown, New Hampshire is an important forever-wild stronghold in a region facing increasing development pressure.
The Sanctuary protects wetlands and forest, including the summit and southerly slopes of Campbell Hill. The land hosts two large beaver ponds that feed into Brennan Brook, part of the Merrimac River Watershed. According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, which supported this conservation project, these wetlands are ranked among the highest quality habitat in the region.
The property has at least four active vernal pools, where amphibians and insects breed in the spring. Within the young forest, remains of stone walls and cellar holes reveal that a little more than a century ago, this land had been cleared and farmed and is slowly and steadily rewilding.
A deep personal connection to place, family, and conservation moved the children of the late John L. (Jack) and Margaret Hoffman to protect the land as a safe haven for wildlife. In honor of their parents, the siblings sold the property to the Wilderness Trust in November of 2020 at a bargain-sale price.
“The Northeast Wilderness Trust was wonderful to work with every step of the way. I am so happy that the land is now in such good hands and I feel very enthusiastic about the forever-wild designation.”
Elizabeth Hoffman, daughter of Jack & Margaret Hoffman
Preserving interconnected forestlands across the landscape allows wildlife to move around in the face of environmental changes. Conservation also secures larger territories and corridors for animals that migrate or need plenty of room to roam. Within the context of the broader landscape, the new Wilderness Sanctuary is considered an important part of a wildlife corridor, as defined by the Quabbin to Cardigan Regional Conservation Partnership.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) supported the creation of the Jack & Margaret Hoffman Wilderness Sanctuary through their Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund. The Oliver S. and Jennie R. Donaldson Charitable Trust also helped make the new Wilderness Sanctuary possible.
Summer wetlands by Shelby Perry | Autumn wetland by Sophi Veltrop