Located near the Maine border north of Errol, N.H, the 27,000-acre Second College Grant, one of the last remaining large land grants in New England, is 200 years old this year. On June 18, 1807, the New Hampshire legislature authorized the gift of land to support Dartmouth, as the College was viewed as "signally useful in diffusing science in the various professions, academies, and schools throughout the state."
"It's truly a unique model of land use," says Andrew Harvard '71, director of outdoor programs and one of 13 members of the Grant Management Committee (GMC). "We balance sustainable harvest with recreation and the preservation of natural habitat. But the reason Dartmouth still owns the Grant is not because of the land—it's because of the people. Members of our community really use this place. They fish in the spring, hike in the summer, hunt in the fall, and back country ski in the winter. We've had three generations of Dartmouth families going there every year."
The College will celebrate the anniversary on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, at the Grant. 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 '55 and New Hampshire Environmental Services Commissioner Tom Burack '82 will speak on Sunday. Daniell will also unveil his new book, Dartmouth's Second College Grant: A History, which he co-authored with Jack Noon '68.
About 4 percent of the Grant is logged each year, producing 7,500 cords of lumber, some of which is fashioned into campus furniture by a company in Lisbon, N.H. Every bookshelf, desk, and dresser (503 full sets) in the recently opened McLaughlin Cluster and Tuck Mall Residence Halls are made from Grant wood, as are some 3,000 beds on campus, according to David Eckels, director of residential operations. "It's locally grown and locally made," he says.
Areas that are selectively cut are allowed to recover at least 15 to 20 years, and 10 percent is a designated natural area that cannot be logged. As a result, the grant is a vital ecosystem where mountains, river valleys, and forests provide habitat for moose, coyotes, ruffed grouse, peregrine falcons, pine marten, and osprey. The Dead Diamond and Swift Diamond rivers offer cold, clear water for native brook trout, a fish that can only live in the purest water.
Accessible via miles of dirt road, the Grant is a scenic natural area where students, faculty, and employees can experience a range of activities or enjoy the rare sense of solitude that comes from being in a vast wilderness. Eight cabins are reserved for Dartmouth alumni and employees. "Not everyone at Dartmouth realizes they have access to such a wonderful natural area," says Adam Keller, executive vice president for finance and administration, who works closely with the GMC. "We encourage all employees to visit."
By STEVEN J. SMITH
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Last Updated: 12/17/08