Some of the information here is adapted from the article “Stumps and Scholarship” written by Robert S. Monahan ’29 for the "Dartmouth Alumni Magazine", April, 1948.
In 1766, New Hampshire Governor John Wentworth promised Eleazar Wheelock a grant of a township on which to build Dartmouth College. In 1770, a month after Wheelock received the royal charter, the governor granted the college the township of Landaff (east of Woodsville, New Hampshire), but Wheelock, after viewing the land and others under consideration, decided to establish the college in Hanover. After the American Revolution the college lost its claim to Landaff in 1791, because of the grant’s royal derivation and rival claims by American settlers in Landaff.
While the Landaff case underwent litigation to resolve the rival claims, the State of Vermont (then meeting in Norwich) came to the aid of the college and granted it the township of Wheelock (northwest of St. Johnsbury) in 1785. The college divided the town into one-hundred-acre lots and leased these to settlers. Over the years the college has sold most of the lots to meet financial needs but still holds title to some properties in the town.
In 1789 the State of New Hampshire, anticipating the college’s loss of the Landaff Grant, made good on its original promise of a grant with the town of Clarksville (in northern New Hampshire). This is considered the First College Grant as it was intended to replace the loss of the original Landaff Grant. The college sold most of this land in the first two years, and had sold off the rest by 1872.
The sale of the Clarksville Grant properties proved to be inadequate and the college petitioned the state for an additional grant in 1792. Several proposals were made in the legislature, but it wasn’t until 1807 that the state responded with the Second College Grant. The lands of the Second College Grant proved to be unattractive to settlers, but sale of timber provided a small but steady income to the college over the next century and a half.
In 1947, Robert S. Monahan ’29 was hired as College Forester to oversee the College Grant and since that time the multiple use philosophy of forest management has been formalized. As a result the recreational and education concepts have become a prominent part of the Grant’s management with untold opportunities for use by the Dartmouth Family.
In 1970 Monahan retired, and cutting operations were suspended while a committee, named by the Trustees of the College in 1968 in anticipation of Monahan’s retirement, evaluated the existing policies. The Prentiss & Carlisle Company of Bangor, Maine subsequently prepared a management plan which was transmitted to the College by the committee in earlyJanuary of 1970. This was adopted and referred to as the 10-20 Year Plan with provisions for an annual sustained yield cut approximately 4,000 cords per year for the following twenty years. The Seven Islands Land Company of Bangor, Maine was retained by the College to oversee forestry management and to implement the Prentiss & Carlisle plan.
It was at this same time that Al Merrill was named Director of Outdoor Affairs and given responsibility for recreational and educational use of the Second College Grant along with oversight of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and the Dartmouth Outing Club.
In 1976 evidence of an increase in the spruce budworm had already reached epidemic proportions in Maine and Canada. In response to this blight, the College imposed a two year moratorium on logging while a plan was developed. In 1978 the College implemented a salvage operation designed to remove the dead fir while saving as much spruce and hardwood as possible. The salvage operation lasted until 1986, at which time the remaining standing dead fir had decayed beyond use.
Once again the harvesting activity was halted while the College took stock of its forest resources and considered its future management options. Seven Islands Land Company conducted a timber cruise survey and used the growth and inventory data to prepare a new 10-20 Year Management Plan. A consensus was reached that the College would be better served by having its own forester. A decision was then made to release Seven Islands Land company of its forest management responsibilities on the College Grant and to once again employ a College forester, Edward Witt.
After carefully analyzing the data prepared by Seven Islands, Witt decided that the annual growth rate of the forest would allow for a sustainable annual cut of 6,000 cords. The forest plan was modified to allow harvesting as much as 10,000 cords for ten years in an effort to remove the poorer quality trees and improve the overall quality of the forest. This would be followed by several years of cutting lesser volumes but higher quality trees. Further, because the forest is managed for the benefit of wildlife, cutting operations were modified to reflect that policy. Since 1987, the forest has been managed accordingly with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department actively involved in the location, design, and methodology of the harvesting activity.
Certain areas have been set aside to receive special management consideration. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has specified deer yards and provided guidelines for timber harvesting to enhance wildlife habitat. The Nature Conservancy has identified an area where a rare and endangered plant exists. Dartmouth College was the first landowner in New Hampshire to enter an agreement with the Nature Conservancy to protect an endangered plant species. Another agreement with that same agency protects a nesting site for osprey, one of only seventeen in the state. The John Sloan Dickey Natural Area has been designated a restrictive cutting zone where harvesting may be done only to control insect or disease damage. Designation of special management areas is the prerogative of the College.
In 1971, a recreation lease was negotiated with the Brown Company for 10,600 acres of the Academy Grant, exclusive of the Abbott Brook watershed area which drains easterly to the Magalloway River. Former leases by the N.H. Fish and Game Department at Hellgate and Clarence Brungot at Little Dead with the Brown Company continued to be honored. Although the Brown Company was sold to James River Corporation (which subsequently sold the Academy Grant to Boise-Cascade Corporation) the original lease arrangements remained in effect until the College was able to purchase 197 acres in the Hellgate area in 1984. This purchase was made possible by a generous gift from George and Pat Stoddard. Now this unique and beautiful area is protected along with the College Grant and will forevermore be accessible to the Dartmouth community.
Timber and wildlife management of the Second College Grant are overseen by the Director of Woodland Operations who works for the Vice-President of the College. Roads, cabins, vehicles, and equipment are maintained by the Second College Grant Caretaker. Dartmouth’s Outdoor Programs Office is responsible for educational and recreational use of the Grant.
Recreational opportunities in the Grant include hiking, berry-picking, bird-watching, canoeing, cross country skiing, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, tracking wildlife, and just plain relaxing! Trails take the hikers to the Diamond Peaks, Hellgate Pond, Lamb Valley Pond, and to Finnson’s Cliffs, as well as around the Forks of the Diamond Natural Area and down to the Hand on the Rock in the Swift Diamond River. Roads along the Dead and Swift Diamond Rivers are great for ambling and bird-watching, and the Dead Diamond is canoeable from the pool below Hellgate to the Management Center (canoes may be rented at Teepee Campgrounds in Wentworth Location, (603) 482-3475, and L. L. Cote in Errol, (800) 287-7700. We recommend that you purchase a map of the Second College Grant from the Outdoor Programs Office before exploring.
Many of the older woods roads have been improved and many new roads have been constructed into remote areas of the Grant to provide access for the removal and transport of forest products using modern harvesting equipment and large eighteen-wheeled tractor-trailor trucks. Many of these roads are for timber harvesting and forest management purposes only. In the interest of safety and maintenance expense reduction, most are gated to prevent use by other vehicles. This restriction is consistent with the philosophy of managing the Grant for non-motorized recreational experiences.
Last Updated: 10/20/10