A Wild Goose Chase

Conserving Goose Chase Farm

When Lynn Freeman and Peter Martin bought their Plainfield property in 1988, their neighbors were eager to advocate for its conservation because it sits in one of the region’s largest areas of unbroken forest. There are numerous streams, wetlands, and vernal pools — all important resources for amphibians and other wildlife. Red oak, white pine, hemlock and maple grow on high, gentle slopes far from roads and other intrusions.

The couple, who co-founded the Concord Open Land Foundation (MA) , were glad to learn of conservation activities in the Upper Valley. Still, they wanted to get to know their new property before charting its future. They made their home there, restored some old pastures, and established a trail system. In the early 1990’s they did a limited, forrester managed, logging operation as part of the development of the trails.  Through the seasons and the years, they observed the plants and animals and let woods grow. 

And now, 35 years later, they have donated a conservation easement protecting over 380 acres, fulfilling the hopes of local conservationists and their own commitment to the health of their land and the planet.

Lynn Freeman and Peter Martin joined UVLT as donors soon after they arrived in the Upper Valley. They quickly became volunteer leaders. Lynn served more than 10 years as a UVLT Trustee and was the chair of the Lands and Stewardship committee. Peter trained to prepare baseline documentation reports for conservation easements, and visited properties around the Upper Valley to assist UVLT staff. Peter is also a former Trustee of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation which supports the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, bringing cutting-edge science to policy conversations about climate change, clean energy, and nature-based solutions.

Conserving their land was always in their plans. Motivating them to move ahead now is a strong desire to make positive and proactive efforts to benefit the environment at a time when the earth’s climate is changing so rapidly. Working with UVLT, they’ve devised conservation restrictions that will not only protect the important wildlife habitat and water resources on their land, but will follow a concept called “proforestation.” This is a strategy whereby a forest is allowed to continue its natural cycle, on a path towards stability.  Recent studies have shown that trees continue to sequester carbon long after they might otherwise have been harvested under a managed forestry plan.  While managed forestry practices try to nudge a forest in certain directions, they can never fully replicate an “untouched” forest when it relates to the complexity of the micro and macro biomes.  An undisturbed tract can become an oasis where the surrounding areas can also benefit, allowing the natural processes of a forest to occur.  Lynn and Peter hope their forest can become such an oasis, and become a permanent location for sequestering carbon.

The Freeman/Martin property – which they know as “Goose Chase Farm” — lies at the end of the traveled way of Grantham Mountain Road in Meriden within a larger region long prioritized for conservation by the towns of Plainfield, Grantham and Enfield. A portion of the conserved land is designated to remain open to the public for walking, skiing, horseback riding and hunting, and for continued snowmobiling on an existing maintained corridor.