Celebrating a Community’s Forest in Corinth

New energy is growing out of a generous gift of land from Sue Shea to the Town of Corinth, honoring her late husband Frank. The new F.X. Shea Town Forest, as the 94 acre property will be known, truly is a community resource. As Val Stori, the Town Forest’s new coordinator, said to the nearly 50 people at the June 12, 2011 dedication ceremony, “this is your forest!” The Corinth Conservation Commission and newly-formed Town Forest Committee will work with Stori to plan events, work on day to day management, and promote the forest as an educational resource.

Sue Shea celebrates with the grape vine “ribbon” cut for the dedication ceremony

Sue Shea, donor of a conservation easement to UVLT, and donor of land to the Town of Corinth

Sue Shea expressed interest in conserving her land during a time when the Orange County Headwaters Project was conducting outreach in the community. As the partner land trust working with many landowners in Corinth, the Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) helped Sue structure a conservation easement for her property and accepted the long-term stewardship responsibilities for the protected land in 2006. Understanding Sue’s hope for eventual town ownership of her land, UVLT included special provisions in the conservation easement to reflect these goals.

Community members thank Sue Shea for her generous gift.

This year, Sue increased the protections and ensured public access to the land with UVLT just prior to gifting the conserved property to the town of Corinth in April; she is thrilled that the forest has been so widely accepted and has fueled such interest in forest stewardship with Corinth residents. Even with the land transfer, the conservation easement stays in place – you can learn more about what it means to have the land conserved by visiting, “Conservation Easement Frequently Asked Questions.”

Having a conservation foundation for this Town Forest means that its values as a working woodland, a place for sustainable management of wildlife and water resources, and an educational resource for residents and visitors alike, will be in place forever. Dedicated support from all corners of the Upper Valley community is wrapped into celebrations such as these; from the wider community down to the local neighborhood, this region is filled with people who care deeply about the land. Celebrating the many qualities of the F.X. Shea Town Forest and the many opportunities it holds (for stewardship workshops, a new wildflower garden, place-based education for local schools, and spaces for personal exploration), is just one way that groups like the Corinth Conservation Commission, the Town Forest committee, the Upper Valley Land Trust, and neighbors and friends come together to share in hopeful occasions.

Dina Dubois guides a nature-based scavenger hunt, showcasing many small wonders of the forest.

UVLT also appreciates Freeman Foundation support, vital to this and many conservation projects in the community, for contributing necessary funds to allow UVLT to provide conservation assistance to landowners wishing to permanently protect their land. Upper Valley residents and supporters of UVLT continually bolster the land trust’s ability to expertly navigate all types of conservation projects and assure landowners that land they choose to protect today will be conserved forever. Through membership contributions, volunteered time, and legacy giving, UVLT members and friends help keep these special places as they are. Places where an excited exclamation by a young scavenger hunter finding a wild strawberry blossom can mix with encouraging words from a teacher or parent, while birdsong and breezes converge above them in the trees.

I was so pleased to be able to personally thank Sue Shea for her many conservation gifts to her community, and to be part of a celebration honoring her late husband Frank X. Shea, an inspiring individual who now, appropriately, has a special forest named for him. It was wonderful meeting some of the many players who have worked so hard on the F.X. Shea Town Forest projects already underway, including Val, Ginny, Dina, Frank (Zeus!), Rik, Suzanne, Laura, Wendy, and many others! We look forward to sharing this new chapter in the growing story of the land with you all.

Sara Cavin, UVLT Project Manager