Andorra Forest

  • Nature, Animals & Parks
  • 1990

Jim and Mary Faulkner began purchasing timberlands in New Hampshire in 1937, and over time assembled what is now the Andorra Forest—11,500 acres strong, and productively used and enjoyed in many ways. Several generations of the Faulkner family have now managed the property as a sustainable “tree farm,” aiming to maximize four benefits of the land according to the longstanding Tree Farm System: wood production, water quality, recreation, and wildlife.

Agriculture that ended in the late-1800s and a forest fire that swept through in the 1940s created some small pastures within the forest where Highland beef cattle are raised, and open sections where 50 acres of wild highbush blueberries now grow. Controlled burns and brush hogging are used to keep the blueberries from being overgrown, and for a small fee the public is allowed to come in and pick the wild bushes in late summer. For decades, the forest was mostly managed by weeding and thinning trees, but now that much of the timber is reaching maturity, sustainable silviculture practices are followed to harvest commercial hardwood and softwood lumber selectively every winter, when the ground is hard. Thinnings and canopy openings are also undertaken to encourage tree regeneration and wildlife habitat in particular areas.

The entire 11,500 acres is open to the public for recreational use. There is a nine-mile stretch of through-hiking trail crossing the property, plus many local trails used by showshoers, skiers, and walkers. Snowmobiling is the only motorized use allowed. Wildlife studies are conducted on the property in conjunction with partners like Antioch University and the Audubon Society. In 1990 the family donated a conservation easement for the entire property to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, making it one of the largest private forests in the eastern U.S. with such an easement. In 1991, the family designated 2,685 acres of the property as the Wildcat Hollow wilderness area, to preserve it (including the first known moose breeding grounds in southwestern New Hampshire) as animal habitat, managed on a “forever wild” basis.