GILFORD — Ecologist Dr. Rick Van de Poll, will lead a free guided hike through the Moulton Brook Valley in Gilford on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests and the Lakes Region Conservation Trust are hosting the hike, which will access the remote interior of the Belknap Range. Hikers will spend much of the day off-trail in order to see many diverse natural features: rocky talus slopes, "old-growth" forests, rare plants, uncommon natural communities and prime habitat for bear, bobcat, moose and coyotes. They'll also see the regrown former pasture land known as the "jail pasture" for the way natural features once hemmed in cattle for the summer.
The hike will showcase the 331-acre "Gage tract," which is one of four properties in the current effort of the Forest Society / LRCT to purchase 950 acres in the Belknap Range, including parcels on Mt. Major. The conservation partners are raising $1.8 million to purchase four properties in the range in order to keep them undeveloped and open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and other outdoor pursuits.
Van de Poll, an ecological consultant from Sandwich who has conducted an ecological inventory of the tract, will co-lead the hike along with Dave Anderson and Tom Howe of the Forest Society.
"The rugged "Gage Tract" contains unique natural communities and geological features that have long interested land conservation interests working to protect areas of the Belknap Range," Anderson said. "This hike will traverse 4.5 miles of steep, rocky terrain as we enjoy this rarely-visited area."
Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state's oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. Supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society's mission is to perpetuate the state's forests by promoting land conservation and sustainable forestry. For more information, visit www.forestsociety.org.