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Located in the ancestral homeland of the Pennacook, Abenaki and Wabanaki people
NEFF’s first Community Forest, Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest, opened to the public in 1945 on the gentle slopes of Temple Mountain. NEFF records note it had been through the wringer: “When NEFF acquired the property in 1945 much of the upper elevations had still recently been used for pasture land and blueberries. The 1938 hurricane had damaged or destroyed much of the mature and more valuable timber on the property.”
Both NEFF and Lincoln Davis proved hardy, however. The property—which now goes by the full name of Lincoln Davis-Cabot-Morse Memorial Forests due to later land donations—has grown into a healthy and vibrant forestland that is simultaneously a productive source of climate-smart wood and home to excellent wildlife habitat. Foresters have seen or encountered signs of deer, moose, coyote, porcupine, grouse and snowshoe hare.
Today, NEFF’s first forest anchors a growing cluster of conserved land. NEFF has added another 322 donated acres to Lincoln Davis itself and worked with other landowners to place five adjacent forestlands spanning more than 500 additional acres under NEFF conservation easements. Contiguous stretches of forest like this network of NEFF-conserved lands provide wild animals with crucial habitat corridors—and also offer opportunities for long-distance hiking trails. One such trail, the Wapack, currently crosses Lincoln Davis and its surrounding easements.
NEFF conserves its Community Forests through ownership, and they are open daily, free to visit, and offer outdoor recreation opportunities. Unlike NEFF’s Community Forests, land protected by NEFF easements—a legal tool—aren’t open to visitors unless their owners explicitly state so, because many belong to private individuals.
NEFF uses easements to conserve land owned by others. When a landowner grants NEFF an easement, it means they have permanently donated or sold to NEFF the landowner’s right to develop their own property, while the landowner otherwise retains ownership of their land; NEFF ensures the easements’ terms are met and enforced.
Located in the Temple Mountain area of south-central New Hampshire, the popular Wapack Trail opened in 1923 and runs north-south for 21 miles from Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, Mass., to North Path Monadnock in Greenfield, New Hampshire.
In the mood for a dramatic, rewarding hike that takes you by key locations from NEFF’s history? If so, head up—and then up some more—the Wapack from the Temple Road Trailhead (or Sharon Ledges Trailhead in Google Maps) in Sharon, New Hampshire, to Lockwood Conservation Easement II, and include a side trip down Berry Pasture Trail so you can visit the first parcel of NEFF’s first forest.
NEFF first established a presence on Temple Mountain in 1945 when Dr. Lincoln Davis deeded a 607-acre parcel to NEFF that became the Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest. Dr. Davis was a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, and in the 1920s and 1930s, often traveled to this well-loved woodland to enjoy time with his family and take a break from his busy professional life. His granddaughter, Emily Lewis, has stayed involved with NEFF and is a longtime donor.
Thomas Cabot and Virginia Wellington Cabot then gave NEFF an adjoining 176 acres in 1964 that include the crest of Temple Mountain. Tom Cabot was a dedicated conservationist who served as a member of the NEFF corporation and as president of the Appalachian Mountain Club, and who had a long-running attachment to Temple Mountain. He and his wife were outdoor enthusiasts who summered there for years, and a two-mile section of the Wapack Trail is now known as the Cabot Skyline in honor of his donation of a trail easement and to recognize him as “a lifelong friend of the Wapack Trail.”
Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest’s final expansion occurred in 1985 when Clarissa Morse gave 146 acres in memory of her husband, Lovett Morse; the property’s full name was thereafter changed to Lincoln Davis-Cabot-Morse Memorial Forest, though “Lincoln Davis” is still used as shorthand.
As NEFF’s oldest forest, Lincoln Davis has proven to be a key testing ground for Exemplary Forestry, NEFF’s in-house, gold-standard approach to sustainable management. NEFF’s 1998 Foundation Forests report summarizes the property’s status at the time:
“A great deal of marketable timber has been cut from the Lincoln Davis property on a sustainable basis and today the forest has more standing timber, in far better health, than on the day Dr. Davis deeded it to NEFF. A variety of forest management activities has improved habitat for many species of wildlife.”
This progress was made possible by the hard work of NEFF foresters assigned to the Monadnock Region, starting with Milt Attridge, NEFF’s first full-time forester and later chief forester. Lincoln Davis-Cabot-Morse Memorial Forest continues to thrive thanks to NEFF’s current land stewardship staff and NEFCo foresters Dan Reed and Dennis McKenney.
The number of NEFF-protected acres on Temple Mountain began to grow once more in the late 1990s when some of the landowners near Lincoln Davis looked into ways to protect their forestland without selling it. After speaking with a NEFF land protection staff member about her options, Camilla Lockwood became the first neighbor to take the conservation easement plunge.
She decided to place easements on two parcels in 1998 and turned to NEFF as the best organization to hold them. The wildlife corridor formed by Camilla’s easements and the Lincoln Davis-Cabot-Morse Memorial Forest expanded in 2000 and 2001, when the Karl family completed one adjacent NEFF easement and PJ and Tina O’Rourke completed another two—the O’Rourke family owns both the “O’Rourke” and “Cabot” properties as shown in image below and available to download in this PDF.
This brought the total number of contiguous Temple Mountain acres protected by NEFF to 1,497, with both of the mountain’s highest peaks protected by easements, and the total length of Wapack Trail on NEFF-protected lands to nearly three miles—not a bad legacy for NEFF’s first forest, and a collective conservation achievement to be proud of.
1923: Wapack Trail opens
1945: Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest donated to NEFF
1964: Cabot parcel added to Lincoln Davis
1985: Morse parcel added to Lincoln Davis
1998: Lockwood I easement completed, Lockwood II easement completed
2000: Karl Family easement completed, Cabot easement completed
2001: PJ and Tina O’Rourke easement completed
Note: The Wapack Trail is maintained and preserved by the nonprofit, all-volunteer Friends of the Wapack organization. They also work with conservation organizations and government agencies to secure legal public access to all portions of the trail. Learn more at wapack.org
Want to head out and explore? Our interactive map of all NEFF Community Forests will help you get on your way. It provides property-specific trail maps you can download, as well information about each forest’s history, recreational opportunities, natural features, and more.