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New Wilderness Sanctuary Protects 130 Acres in New Hampshire

Francestown, NH – Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased 130 acres near Campbell Hill Road in Francestown last week, creating the new Jack & Margaret Hoffman Wilderness Sanctuary. The Sanctuary protects wetlands and forest, including the summit and southerly slopes of Campbell Hill, as forever-wild.

“We couldn’t be prouder to safeguard this beautiful ecosystem as wilderness,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of the Northeast Wilderness Trust. “As forever-wild, this land will never be logged and it joins a growing number of wildlands in southern New Hampshire—to the benefit of wildlife and people.”

The land hosts two large beaver ponds that feed into Brennan Brook, part of the Merrimac River Watershed. There are at least four active vernal pools, where amphibians and insects breed in the spring. Stone walls and cellar holes throughout the Sanctuary indicate that the young forest was once farmland.

Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased the property from the children of the late John L. (Jack) and Margaret Hoffman. The siblings wanted to protect the land as a safe and peaceful home for wildlife in their parents’ memory. They sold the land at a generous, bargain-sale price to the Wilderness Trust last week.

“The Northeast Wilderness Trust has been wonderful to work with every step of the way,” said the Hoffmans’ daughter, Elizabeth. “I am so happy that the land is now in such good hands and I feel very enthusiastic about the forever-wild designation. My father’s 100th birthday would have been this week, so this transition feels like a perfect way to mark the occasion.”

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 wetlands on this property are ranked among the highest quality habitat in the region, which was part of why we chose to fund this conservation project,” said Lori Sommer, Mitigation Coordinator for NH DES. “Campbell Hill also connects to existing conserved land, so that makes it a priority for protection.”

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.

Forever-wild conservation also serves as a natural solution to climate change. “Setting aside lands such as the Jack & Margaret Hoffman Wilderness Sanctuary guarantees continued carbon sequestration and storage,” said Jon Leibowitz. “Wilderness conservation is a complementary strategy to the more common, active management strategies used across most of the Northeastern landscape.”

Sommer stated that a recent NH Fish & Wildlife report showed that the Merrimac River Watershed region has lost significant forest habitat to development in recent years.

The Oliver S. and Jennie R. Donaldson Charitable Trust also helped make the new Wilderness Sanctuary possible.