When I left this morning I figured this would be a throw-away sort of walk that I could do quickly and then get on with the day. I had other projects in mind and no plans to write anything about a town forest, especially one bisected by a power line.
Like most towns in New Hampshire, Haverhill has acquired land over the years. In this case, the town took possession of a 21-acre parcel in the 1920’s to settle back taxes. And since most towns in New Hampshire hate to spend money on things, the Haverhill town selectmen had the land logged for some quick income and proceeded to do nothing but let the forest grow back, presumably to be logged again as soon as economically viable. Later, a state-wide power line bisected it, bringing in some more income without having to invest a dime of the town’s money.
But then something happened and a new use was found for this forest. Dedicated to Richard Kinder, forester, and “pillar of our community”, the Kinder Memorial Forest was born. Two main trails were laid out in roughly the shape of a figure 8. The longer one was made into a nature trail, but more than many of the nature trails I’ve seen, this one had signs that were truly interesting, for any age group. Although the view from under the power lines was not particularly inspiring, and to my mind a straight line cut for miles through the forest is more an eyesore than anything else, still I gained an appreciation of the value of these open lands for wildlife, as they are ideal for growing lots of berries (think bears) and providing lots of habitat for those species (especially birds) that prefer more open spaces.
When I first arrived, I was the only one there, and I figured this would be another little-used preserve. But the logbook showed otherwise, with good numbers of visitors coming at a steady rate. Sure enough, I soon was joined by another fellow hiker from out of town, who said he came here regularly. Soon a half dozen more appeared on this beautiful late September day.
So here are a few more photos, taken both here and elsewhere on the back roads of Haverhill NH, a town whose beauty I am only just learning to appreciate.
The dedication on his plaque says:
He dedicated his life to others and unselfishly served his community and church. A forester by trade, he loved the woods and the beauty of nature. This Forest is a living memorial of him for the education and enjoyment of all.
I gained a lot today, thanks to Richard Kinder.