NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602
info [@] newildernesstrust.org
PRESS RELEASE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
For immediate release: June 14, 2023
Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire…Northeast Wilderness Trust is pleased to announce the creation of the 300-acre Rosalind and Fred Slavic Wilderness Preserve, in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. Surrounded on three sides by the Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, this forever-wild Preserve was made possible by the generosity of the former landowners and fills an important gap in conserved land—for the benefit of people and nature.
Fred and Rosalind Slavic had a vision for their land’s future that began more than 40 years ago when they granted the State of New Hampshire a conservation easement on 196 acres of their forestland. In 1987, working with the New Hampshire Audubon Society, the Forest Society, and the State of New Hampshire, the Slavics took the first major step to set into motion a vision that has now become a reality.
Rosalind, now more than 100 years old and pre-deceased by her husband Fred in 2013, first contacted the Wilderness Trust in 2011 at the advice of the State of New Hampshire Parks and the Conservation Land Stewardship Program to express interest in donating their property in perpetuity as forever-wild.
“Fred and Rosalind Slavic deeply loved the land they lived with. They always wanted it to be wild and free, forever, simply left alone, to be what it had originally been. Getting there was a bit of a winding trail, and there was no straight line or a bright blue ribbon visible at the finish line,” Stephen Walker, Director of the New Hampshire Conservation Land Stewardship Program, said. “At times the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Finding that right fit with Northeast Wilderness Trust, who grabbed the baton from them in 2011 to see this through, was an important step. Protection did not come easily or quickly, but the Slavics and the Wilderness Trust persevered alongside many other champions.”
Good things come to those who wait
The Slavics purchased these 300 acres filled with a relatively intact forest and old trees in the late 1960s. They built a homestead high up a hill cutting down as few trees as possible and had done almost no cutting of live trees since that time. As they got older and were unable to walk to their home, they burned it down and allowed the forest to rewild around it.
“Transferring their property to the Northeast Wilderness Trust is a dream come true for my aunt and uncle, and I am pleased that I was able to play a part in making it happen,” Sharon Freedman, said. “At 102 years old, Rosalind is very grateful that she has lived long enough to see their legacy, the Rosalind and Fred Slavic Wilderness Preserve, become a reality.”
Fred and Rosalind made this land home. Inside and outside the walls of their physical house they shared their life with the trees and the bountiful wildlife. As a result, this property has had a major head start and is on its way to becoming an old-growth forest of tomorrow, thanks to the mindful care, stewardship, and vision of Rosalind and Fred.
“Good things come to those who wait,” Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director at Northeast Wilderness Trust, said. “We’ve been working with Rosalind and Fred, and their family, for more than a decade to ensure their wish to protect this forest came true. We are grateful for their commitment to forever-wild conservation and honored to safeguard this Preserve.”
Wild old forests are known for storing more carbon than young forests. Thanks to the Slavic’s commitment to keep their land largely wild many decades ago, the now permanently protected Preserve joins other old and protected forests to slow down climate change.
The Preserve’s topography and elevation also provide exceptional resilience and capacity for diverse species who call the Northern Forest home. Situated on the eastern face of Little Monadnock, the Preserve includes the headwaters basin of Kemp Brook at the base of the mountain.
While the Preserve is about ten miles south-southeast of Keene, New Hampshire, it is also within a 14,300-acre unfragmented habitat block with little to no development. It is also situated within an extensive protected-areas network that includes conservation holdings of the State of New Hampshire as well as other private and public entities.
The Kemp Brook headwaters of the Millers River feed the watershed of the Connecticut River. Kemp Brook has active and historic swampy areas where beaver and native brook trout live. Other wildlife making their home in this Preserve include bobcat, while tailed-deer, two species of Woodpeckers (Hairy and Downy) and the White-Breasted Nuthatch.
“If I could impart one really important parcel of wisdom to those considering how to pass land on with forever-wild protection it is – do not wait. Age is not always kind and can make decisions for us at the most inconvenient of times. Aging was one of the more considerable obstacles that popped up along the way for the Slavics. I am so glad for the outcome here, but it could have been 20 houses instead,” Stephen Walker added.
About Northeast Wilderness Trust: Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. Founded in 2002, the Wilderness Trust safeguards wilderness areas across New England and eastern New York. The non-profit focuses on protecting landscapes that benefit wildlife, biodiversity, and climate resilience while celebrating the benefits of wildlands to people. It also holds legal protections such as conservation easements on lands owned by others. The Wilderness Trust safeguards more than 76,000 acres of wildlands in six states. Learn more at www.newildernesstrust.org.
Photography by Jim Northup