The Right Thing to Do

Conserving the Hooper Properties

Mark Hooper wrote to the Cornish Conservation Commission late last fall explaining that he’d decided to conserve his land “simply because it seemed like the right thing to do.” Mark’s grandmother’s family (the Hildreths) had been granted about 300 acres in the late 1700’s — land that stretched from the Connecticut River to Blow-Me-Down Brook in the northwest corner of Cornish. Split among children and sold off during hard times over the years, the 62 remaining acres came into Mark’s ownership in late 2018. Though he had moved to the other side of the country, where he resides with his wife Christy Santos, Mark still held a rooted connection to the community in which he grew up and felt “my family lived and worked and loved this place for so long that they would want it to remain undeveloped, the meadows and mixed woodlands that my grandparents knew.”

Moreover, wrote Mark: “It was the kindness of Cornish neighbors that allowed my family to hold on to the place, so now I am hoping that in conserving this land that the Hildreths are giving back to Cornish.” In December 2023 Mark completed his goal of conserving three parcels comprising the 62 acres formerly belonging to his grandmother.

Nearby, to the north, south, east and west are conservation easements protecting properties associated with the historic Cornish Art Colony which flourished from about 1895 into the 1940’s. The Hildreth family had already been in Cornish more than a century then. The landscape they inhabited and cared for inspired Cornish Colony artists, writers, and garden designers.

Now Mark Hooper’s legacy links his family history to Cornish’s past and future. With the majority of theproperty ranked as “Highest Ranked Habitat in New Hampshire” in the 2020 NH Wildlife Action Plan, its sandy loam meadows, wooded ridges, wetlands and riparian habitat in the Blow-Me-Down watershed, as well as tributaries to and a bit of frontage on Blow-Me-Down Brook itself, the land contributes heavily to the ecological resilience and overall character of the area. Forester Ehrhard Frost, who helps to manage the forest, recommended UVLT to Mark. The Cornish Conservation Commission encouraged the easements and provided funding toward the project costs.

Chaseholme, (Shurcliff, Wade Estate, Nowicki, Taylor, Jenckes).