Natural Wonders of New Hampshire Exploring Wild and Scenic Places



“An indispensable guide, even for natives.”
– Jack Barnes, NH Sunday News

“Written with the authority of someone whose knowledge is first-hand, with the conviction of an avid conservationist, and with the eye and ear of a fine writer.”
– Becky Rule, Concord Monitor

“I know what I’m going to do on vacation. With Natural Wonders of New Hampshire in hand I plan to become better acquainted with the state I thought I knew.”
– Gail Kelley, The Boston Globe


Natural Wonders of New Hampshire (Country Roads Press | NTC, 1994) is primarily for walkers. Each of the book’s seven chapters covers a different region of the state. Along with useful location and direction information, the book includes descriptions of each site and accompanying “eco-details” about bats, birds, bobcats, moose – and more. Most of all, the book aims to inspire in readers a love of New Hamphire’s green spaces – and a desire to help conserve them.


Conservation is a state of harmony between men and the land.
– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Certain things you never forget: watching the mist shift and settle across a northern bog ringed with fir trees. An expanse of salt marsh gone purple with autumn. A dark flock of Canada geese rising in raucous unison against a slate sky. Small things, too, stay with you: wild columbine at a bend in the trail. The sound of frogs flopping into a still pond. The endless song of a winter wren in a midsummer forest. Standing face to face with a moose.

This book is about moments like these – moments seen and heard along New Hampshire’s mountain ledges and watery shores, in open fields and deep boreal forests. It’s a book that could be written because countless people and “green organizations,” large and small, have worked and bargained and negotiated and fought – for the land. Without their efforts, which have spanned more than a century, New Hampshire would look very different.

As of September, 1993, just under 20 percent of the state’s nearly six million acres have been saved from development. About 13 percent of the state lies within the White Mountain National Forest’s 770,000 acres. The other seven percent is scattered in parcels, large and small around the state. Some of these acres were saved, in the eleventh hour, from certain development. Many were given as outright gifts to conservation organizations. Others are privately owned, permanently protected by conservation easements.

This book is an invitation to visit some of these places – to walk the trails, paddle the waters, appreciate the views, learn about the habitats. It is, essentially, a book about the protected one-fifth of the state. And so, it raises a question: What about the rest of New Hampshire’s land?

According to the NH Office of State Planning, somewhere between 3.5 and 6 percent of the state is considered developed, depending on how you define it. That leaves roughly 75 percent of the state that is both undeveloped – and unprotected. That’s an awful lot of distance between sanctuary signs – imagine what the state would look life if all that unprotected land were developed.

The vision of a state overrun by development was precisely what fueled the Land Conservation Investment Program (LCIP), which began in 1987. By the time it finished in the spring of 1993, the amount of protected state land had nearly doubled from about 120,000 to about 200,000 acres. “We had applications on well over three times the amount of land we could serve,” says LCIP land negotiator Sarah Thorne. “There’s lots more out there that deserves protection and that people are willing to protect. The question now is, ‘How do we save more land?'”

The issues are complex, the questions difficult. How do we meet the demands of growth and the need for preservation? What exactly are we trying to preserve and why? What level of protection is appropriate? How much land is enough? We must consider all these things. But before we can achieve the harmony between man and the land Aldo Leopold suggests is possible, we must, above all, feel an affinity for the earth. If we don’t love it, we won’t preserve it. This book will not answer the hard questions. But it may help you learn something more about the land. Mostly, I hope you will find in it places that you love.