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>  News Releases >   2007 >   June

Dartmouth wilderness turns 200 years old

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/01/07
Steven J. Smith • (603) 646-3661

As open land becomes more scarce in the United States, Dartmouth proudly celebrates the 200th anniversary of its 27,000 acres of forest known as the Second College Grant in Northern New Hampshire. The significant chunk of land—100 times larger than the main campus in Hanover—was given to Dartmouth by an act of the state legislature on June 18, 1807.

Flyfishing at the Second College Grant
Flyfisherman Norman Webber, Dartmouth Class of 1971, casts for brook trout in the pristine waters of the Dead Diamond River, one of three major rivers in the Second College Grant. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Andrew Harvard, Dartmouth's director of outdoor programs, says the Grant is valuable for its sustainably harvested logs and for large scale academic study, but the real reason Dartmouth owns it is because of peoples' emotional connection to the place. "They fall in love with it," he says. "Generations of Dartmouth families visit, year after year. They fish in the spring, hike in the summer, hunt in the fall, backcountry ski in the winter. For some, this is their favorite spot on earth."

The College will recognize the anniversary at a public event on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24, at the Grant, which is located just north of Errol, N.H. There will be tours of wildlife habitats and forestry sites, demonstrations of logging equipment, and opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking. Professor of History Emeritus Jere R. Daniell and New Hampshire Environmental Services Commissioner Tom Burack (both Dartmouth alumni) will speak on Sunday. Daniell will also unveil his new book, Dartmouth's Second College Grant: A History.

The Grant is a rich, fresh-air-breathing ecosystem, and it's common for quiet visitors to see such wildlife as moose, bald eagles, or osprey. Dartmouth Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Matthew Ayres leads winter field trips there for his Physiological Ecology class. Students visit to take a break from technology, spend the night in cabins with gas lights, bunk beds, and wood stoves, and enjoy the camaraderie that comes from being outdoors. Many capture the beauty of their surroundings in photographs or writing. "I visit for the fresh air, lack of stress, scenery, and peace," says Jacob Jurmain, Dartmouth Class of 2008. "Sometimes even Hanover's too urban."

Despite the beauty of the Grant, it's still working land. About 4 percent of its acreage is logged each year, producing 7,500 cords of red maple, yellow birch, spruce, and fir, some of which is made into furniture to be used on campus. (All 3,285 beds in the residence halls are made from Grant wood.) Selectively cut areas are allowed to recover at least 15-20 years, and 10 percent is designated preserved natural area and can not be cut. Dartmouth Forester Kevin Evans says, "We balance a small amount of harvest with conservation, wildlife habitat, and recreation. It's a model for responsible forest management."

The Grant is open to the public via foot (or snowshoes) 365 days a year. Cabin and vehicle use is permitted for Dartmouth students, alumni, and employees.

In addition to the June celebration, Dartmouth will recognize the Grant during events in the fall and in the winter of 2008.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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