Pegjack Memorial Forest Dedication

Peg Merrens
(603) 643-6626 ext. 112



On August 5, 2008, Tom Aldrich presented the Upper Valley Land Trust with the largest outright donation of land in its 23-year history. The gift establishes the 97-acre Pegjack Memorial Forest on Turnpike Road in Thetford, Vermont, and was inspired by Tom’s wife, Peggy Peck Aldrich (1941-2007) and their grandson Jacob Thomas Fried (1999-2008) as a way to honor their deep love of nature and animals.

Please join the Thetford Conservation Commission, the Upper Valley Land Trust and Tom Aldrich for a dedication event on Sunday, September 21st at 2PM. Walkers will enjoy a fall tour of the Thetford forest; from the dedication site, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy the view of the Connecticut River Valley.

Tom Aldrich originally purchased the land in Thetford thinking that he would move north from his home in Falmouth, MA. However, he changed his mind, “I realized that having been partly responsible for the development and intrusion into a natural place on Cape Cod, and then to leave that intrusion to create another intrusion into a natural place in rural Vermont, and settle there, was self-indulgent, wrong-headed environmental citizenship.” So, with an eye towards the land’s preservation, Tom has chosen to hand over the property to UVLT. Aldrich says, “I am confident that the Upper Valley Land Trust is constituted, staffed, and has the skill and vision to maintain the Pegjack Forest.”

“The Upper Valley Land Trust is honored and excited to accept this gift of ownership,” says UVLT President, Jeanie McIntyre. “As the Upper Valley grows and changes, land for quiet recreation, the places where people can observe and connect to the natural world, are critically important. The Pegjack Forest is just the kind of property that belongs in trust for human and natural communities.”

McIntyre says that UVLT has been working with local landowners for more than two decades. “Most of the land we’ve conserved has remained in the hands of area residents who use it for farming and forestry,” she says. “Now our conservancy is considering ownership when a parcel is close by a village or school or has special values for public enjoyment and learning.”

Li. Shen at the Thetford Conservation Commission puts the donated land in context with its surroundings, “The Pegjack Forest is an important piece in the mosaic of forested lands in conservation or current use in the north-east section of Thetford. Together these create an important corridor of wildlife habitat connecting Lake Fairlee and the Connecticut River.” According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, one section of the Pegjack is known to be an important wintering area for deer. There are also perch sites in the taller trees which may be used by raptors, along with dense areas of new growth which may provide cover to ground nesting birds.

During Adrich’s ownership, the property has served as a retreat for his family to roam on weekends. The property lies near Houghton Hill and includes 6,000 feet of frontage on a seasonal town road, a popular route for recreational use. Under UVLT’s ownership the donated property will remain open to the public for hiking and other non-motorized recreation. According to Li. Shen, “The value of the Pegjack tract for community recreation is superb, with stunning views from the height of land. In addition it offers the exciting possibility of connecting to the popular Mimi’s Trail, and other trails in the area.”