From the desk of Gal Potashnick, Outreach & Member Services Director, Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust;
Historic Farm and Exemplary Forest Protected in Landaff
LANDAFF– Linda Michelsen and her late husband, Jeffry, discovered the secluded old farm site on Foster Hill Road while cross-country skiing. They fell in love with the open fields and sweeping views to the west, and the towering trees that climbed up a steep ridge to the east.
Linda and Jeffry purchased the property in 1992. And, last month, Linda ensured that it will always remain for the wildflowers, birds, and host of other wildlife that call it home through a conservation easement with the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT). The easement, a legal agreement between the land trust and the property owner, ensures that the Michelsen land will never be developed.
“Many people over the years have driven up to the property to enjoy the view and amazing sunsets, I’m pleased to continue that tradition,” Michelsen said.
The Michelsens purchased the property with the intent of eventually living there. They enjoyed the land as a playground and refuge, a place to walk the dog and get away for family time, reading scary stories by candlelight.
They cleared the old logging roads and built new trails, cut firewood, collected sap and made maple syrup, and through a NH Fish & Game program planted wild apple trees for wildlife. They created a plan for forest management, recreation, and wildlife and became a Certified Tree Farm. Michelsen allows a state snowmobile corridor to cross the property.
Sadly, Jeffry’s death in 2003 ended the plans of living there, but Linda held on to the property because of how much it meant to him. She continued to manage it for wildlife, and enjoyed the great diversity of species, particularly birds, because of the mix of fields and forest.
“We are honored to work with Linda to achieve her dream of having this land forever open for wildlife,” said former ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown. “And because Linda has taken such care of the woods, it will be an excellent place to show other landowners how good forest management is done. We have such gratitude for Linda donating this conservation easement.”
At its higher reaches, the property’s forest includes an unusual mix of plant species. The NH Natural Heritage Bureau identifies it as an exceptional example of a red pine rocky ridge habitat area. This is a rare occurrence in the state because natural red pine growth typically requires fire. These incredibly unusual habitats are a state conservation priority due to the biodiversity they support and that they include the best and sometimes only occurrences of this type in the state.
“Projects like this wonderfully demonstrate the importance of conservation in our region,” said Rosalind Page, ACT’s Interim Executive Director. “This project touches not just on rare habitat protection and good forest management, it highlights how landowners using the tool of conservation are helping keep the North Country wild so both people and wildlife can benefit.”
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust works with individuals and communities to conserve land for the future well-being and vitality of the North Country. You can find more information at act-nh.org or call ACT’s office in Franconia at (603) 823-7777.