The Families Behind Our Conserved Lands

Following Jean Rosenthal around her Harrisville property, you quickly learn that she knows and loves every square inch of these remarkable lands. You also learn that Jean is just one of many residents of the land; she’s sharing it with black bears, moose, river otters, beavers, and the list goes on. “It’s just very satisfying to know that, right here, you can find otter slides, weasel tracks, and a beaver pond,” Jean says.

Jean had her land’s rich habitat in mind when she donated a conservation easement on a 30-acre parcel to the Harris Center. Better yet, Jean strengthened an existing conservation easement on the 90 acres she purchased in 1984 and donated that easement to the Harris Center. This protected chunk of 120 acres extends the SuperSanctuary into terrific habitat in Harrisville, including a stretch of the Nubanusit River and associated beaver flowages. “I’m out on the land here all the time,” Jean says.  “It’s good to know it’s protected.”

Strengthening an Easement

Jean, who is now retired from a pediatric practice in Peterborough, discovered this bit of paradise in 1984. She had come here by way of Peterborough, and New Haven, Connecticut, and is originally from New York.

“At the time, I knew I could either live in the city or out in the boondocks. Since inner-city jobs didn’t appeal to me, I decided I wanted to live in the boondocks.” When Jean was looking for a place, she wanted a small house with lots of land. The real estate agent showed her a handyman’s special that she loved: an old cape with fields and forest.

Even if you don’t know Jean, you probably know her land. The sign by her driveway on Route 137 has become a local landmark: “Cord Company.” Leaving most drivers a bit puzzled – like any good New Hampshire landmark – it refers to a previous owner’s scheme of stacking cord wood.

Leaving a Legacy

I’m thrilled we were able to do this. We live in a very special area with all of this wildlife. You have the feeling that there will continue to be bear and moose here for a long, long time.

When Jean bought it, the 90 acres had a conservation easement that allowed two additional houses. Over time – and as she got to know the land – Jean wanted the easement strengthened to not allow additional houses. While we need land for houses, Jean says, they need to be built in places that don’t harm valuable habitats. Meanwhile, Jean saw the value of purchasing and protecting a landlocked 30-acre tract between her land and the Nubanusit River.

Because her tracts are just south of lands owned by the Harris Center, it made sense to have the Harris Center hold the easements, Jean says. The arrangements worked well and she’s glad to leave a legacy for the future.