June 26, 2023: Celebrating 60 Years: Protecting Land and Connecting People


To the Editor,

Manchester Essex Conservation Trust is celebrating 60 years of conservation in the towns of Manchester and Essex.  Since our inception in 1963, MECT has grown and evolved, just as Manchester and Essex have.  We appreciate the generous and growing support from these communities and your newspaper as we preserve, protect and steward open spaces for the lasting benefit of the community-at-large while connecting people with the land that defines the area's natural character.  Everyone at MECT is committed to continuing to serve as valuable partners to the people of these two incredible towns because we live here, too.

The proximity, extensive trails, and peaceful surroundings we offer these communities provide important places to get outside, learn and explore.  Our membership and the broader community have expressed their gratitude for these places to engage in activities that support both physical and emotional wellbeing and cultivate a connection to the land and wildlife.  Through this sharing of the land we steward, we affirm that it is the people in these communities who helped assemble these gifts over our 60-year history, creating a reciprocity that is at the heart of what we do.

To celebrate our MECT history and impact, our board of trustees has compiled a list of 60 Places for 60 Years -- a collection of favorite places that tell the story of our towns from colonial beginnings, the first Manchester parcels conserved that seeded the Wilderness Conservation Area (the WCA) and our contributions to the conservation and defense of Powder House Hill to our northern reaches in Essex.  Some of the 60 Places highlight areas that MECT conserves through ownership, conservation restrictions or in partnership with other organizations.  And some of the spaces are not yet conserved -- though they are very valuable to our communities.

On the list of places, some are scenic, like the Wyman Hill Summit.  Others are more historic, like decomposing remnants of woodpiles from the blizzards and harsh winter of 1917 that now support new trees but trace the arc of time back to Manchester’s history where each family had a woodlot to collect wood for fuel.  Another highlights a spot where you can be treated to mountain laurel blooms, and marks trees that still bear visible evidence of forest fires from 1957 and 1992, standing testament to nature’s resilience and restoration when left to heal.

All of these places highlight the rich ecosystem and abundant life that are found in the woodlands and wetlands of Manchester and Essex, areas that have long been better known for their coastlines.  As one of our trustees says “One of my favorite things about hiking here is that you can hike 5, 10, 15 miles, or all day if you want, and only cross a road once or twice.  That connectivity means you can really breathe and explore, it’s an experience that’s becoming so rare and it’s right here in our community.”

You can find the 60 Places for 60 Years at mect.org/60Places. See you on the trails!


Matt Plum, President

Manchester Essex Conservation Trust

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