Bear Pond Natural Area is 923 acres of untouched natural land in the heart of Canaan, NH.
It is a special place, with tremendous ecological diversity. The conservation restrictions that protect the Bear Pond Natural Area are special too.
Purchased and conserved by the Mascoma Watershed Conservation Council in 2002, the land is subject to a “forever wild” conservation easement that prohibits forestry and other active management activities typically allowed on conserved land. These requirements came with ecological protection funding that enabled MWCC to buy the land. And when MWCC generously transferred the property to UVLT last summer (see the story here), we pledged to uphold the terms of the easement.
Over the past year, our staff has been visiting and documenting the flora and fauna at Bear Pond Natural Area. Best practices for land trusts indicate that we should have a multi-year management plan for each property we own. In the case of Bear Pond, there’s not much “management,” in the multi-year plan – but there’s plenty of interesting information!
Its 60-acre quaking bog harbors a number of rare plant species and is rated by New Hampshire’s Natural Heritage Inventory Program as “one of the best bogs in the state.” An alluvial meadow is home to woodcock and grassland birds, while an extensive rocky outcrop as high as 60 feet in some places serves as a nesting site for ravens. The property is also frequented by bear, moose, deer, bobcat, fisher, and wild turkey. Bear Pond’s location at the headwaters of the Mascoma River and its extensive water resources – 160 acres of wetlands, frontage on both Little Goose Pond and the Mascoma River, and Bear Pond itself – make it a crucial groundwater recharge area for the Mascoma River, which is the sole water supply for the City of Lebanon and a possible back-up supply for Hanover.
There are few trails at Bear Pond. Since becoming owners, we’ve done some maintenance, but we won’t be building new trails. The “forever wild easement” allows public access to the property and limits that access to protect the unique and valuable natural characteristics. Non-pedestrian recreation is not allowed at Bear Pond. This includes horseback riding, mountain biking, and ATV or Jeep use. UVLT must uphold these restrictions on recreation both to uphold the requirements of the conservation easement that made the protection of this place possible, but also to uphold the wishes of the original grantees of the conservation easement on the property, and to protect the fragile ecosystems of this special place.
Bear Pond is a wonderful place to visit. The pond itself is beautiful and serene whether you visit in the winter or summer. The property’s sand pit is excellent turtle habitat, and you can see the active beaver dams in the wetlands. Hiking through Bear Pond Conservation Area is a treat, a wild place, a refuge.
So please, go take a walk at Bear Pond and take in all this beautiful place has to offer. Just do it on your feet.