In the winter of 2020, the owners of Westward Orchards indicated that they would be selling a portion of land on Oak Hill Road at the foot of Slough Road. The 11-acre parcel had previously had a small apple orchard, but the trees were cleared for sale of the land as a house lot. The now open field has beautiful views to the north that extend to southern New Hampshire. This parcel was seen as a key linkage lot to other conserved lands to the north, including the Cobb and Dunlap town conservation lands. In winter, a snowmobile trail passed over the property as part of a large trail network used by the Harvard Snowmobile Club. The Harvard Conservation Trust determined that this property would be an excellent conservation parcel for several reasons…. It provides linkage to other conserved lands, and had the opportunity for creating a trail from Oak Hill Road that would connect to the existing Dunlap trail. Also, there is excellent wildlife habitat around the large beaver pond. The scenic nature of the parcel, with its views and open field to the distant pond, and the public access opportunity made it a compelling option for purchase.
With the generous gift from two lead donors, with their gifts matched from the Muller Conservation Collaborative, we were able to nearly cover the costs of the land purchase. Other donations helped to nearly close the funding gap. Without the Muller Conservation Collaborative matching gift, it might have been impossible to save this beautiful parcel due to the high cost of house lots on Harvard. Today, the public is greeted by an HCT marking the location of the trail, with roadside parking possible when snow doesn’t prevent it.