Hunter’s Woodlot

Hunter’s Woodlot

Old-Growth and a Family Legacy Conserved

“Lobaria Pulmonaria!” exclaimed Joan Ray, Director of Land Conservation. Joan and land owner Sherry Woody were exploring the forest Sherry would soon donate to Coastal Rivers when Joan stopped to admire a seemingly ordinary piece of lichen. In reality, the pair had happened upon something far more interesting.

Lobaria Pulmonaria is a lichen most commonly found in old-growth forests, those rare woodlands that have managed to avoid intensive human land use. In the case of Hunter’s Woodlot, Sherry’s chosen name for the 23-acre property her grandfather purchased in Bristol in 1910, the woods had not been logged for over 70 years.

Sherry reflects that during her childhood, the woodlot was “just a mysterious place across the road.” After purchasing her grandparents’ house in 2006, she became more interested in exploring the portion of woods she had inherited from her father. A few years later, Sherry purchased adjacent land parcels from her siblings. That was when she began to think about conservation. “Of course, Coastal Rivers was the solution,” she says.

When Sherry approached us about donating the land for conservation, Joan and Executive Director Steven Hufnagel were impressed by the property’s rich natural resources.

Mixed forest at Hunter's Woodlot

With its large live trees, standing dead trees, and downed woody debris, Hunter’s Woodlot contains many classic old-growth characteristics.

With its large live trees, standing dead trees, and downed woody debris, Hunter’s Woodlot contains many classic old-growth characteristics. Such forests can support larger populations of native species relative to younger forests, making the habitat crucial for long term survival of certain rare plants and animals. Old-growth also plays a vital role in sequestering carbon–pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it in the trees and soil–as well as providing water storage and filtration, and keeping the local environment to a cooler temperature.

The topography on the property is varied, with a mix of upland forested areas, significant wetland habitat, and interesting rock formations. Joan also noted evidence of ephemeral streams–those that flow above ground only at certain times of year.

Our land conservation decisions are guided by a Lands Committee, consisting of Coastal Rivers trustees and members at large, who work with staff to evaluate prospective projects and make recommendations. As a land trust, we place a high priority on lands that have exceptional value for wildlife, education, water quality, and public access. We typically seek to add properties that are near to existing conserved land, a strategy that encourages larger conservation corridors to develop over time.

In the case of Hunter’s Woodlot, no current preserve exists next door. However, it is part of a good-sized forest block that could connect lands already under our care, creating a meaningful conserved corridor.

map showing location of Hunter's Woodlot

Hunter’s Woodlot is located close to Route 32 in Bristol. (Blue properties are owned by Coastal Rivers, blue stripes indicate privately owned conservation easements, dark green signifies a partner-owned property, and red strips indicate properties for which Coastal Rivers is fundraising.)

It is possible that conserving Hunter’s Woodlot could influence future work. “We’ve seen elsewhere that when a landowner makes a generous donation like this, it can inspire others to follow suit,” Steven observes. He has seen this effect with the River~Link initiative, which has been working to connect several thousand acres of forest between Newcastle and Boothbay.

Given its natural features and the opportunity for further expansion, we were thrilled to have the parcel formally transferred to us in October 2022. Hunter’s Woodlot benefits from having been carefully stewarded over generations, and we are grateful to Sherry for entrusting us with its future care.

“It is such a beautiful piece of land complete with a cliff and small stream – which I fell into twice while exploring with Joan!” Sherry shared. She hopes that Hunter’s Woodlot will inspire in others the sense of adventure it has inspired in her.

While we remain open to a variety of land stewardship practices across properties, Hunter’s Woodlot will be permanently protected for its valuable old-growth characteristics. While we have no current plans for trail construction on the property, we do not rule out a future project, which could be influenced by further expansion of conservation land in the area. As with all properties we own, the land is open to the public, and intrepid explorers are welcome to traverse the land even without a trail in place.

Climate Strategy and Conservation Fellow Tahlia Mullen is a native of South Bristol and a graduate of Lincoln Academy. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2022 with a degree in Government and Environmental Studies.