The passionate community behind Newbury’s town forest

For more than two centuries, a forest has been woven into the life of Newbury.

“People in Newbury love Tucker Mountain,” says Tom Kidder. He’s head of a volunteer committee managing the mountain’s latest role as Newbury’s Town Forest. “It’s that ownership feeling. People like to feel that it’s their mountain.”

Volunteers transform Tucker Mountain Town Forest

The mountain has long been a favorite place for locals to hike, hunt, ski, and snowmobile. The top, cleared for sheep as early as 1810, offers a 360-degree view. More recently, VLT helped reimagine and conserve the mountain as a community resource.

Since then, volunteers have become vital to maintaining and improving the recreational and educational possibilities. Last year, more than 50 volunteers put in 1,150 hours over at 22 work sessions. They worked on trail building, erosion control, building information kiosks, and more. With encroaching brush cleared away, the historic summit now offers sweeping views from Mount Ascutney and the Waits River Valley in Vermont to Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire.

View of distant mountains from tucker mountain town forest

View of distant mountains from Tucker Mountain town forest

“The camaraderie of a group working together”

Volunteers say these projects are fun. They’re also bonding experiences that draw the town together. Caroline Nininger and her husband John (pictured above), have put in many hours volunteering on the mountain — clearing brush from old stone walls, walking boundaries, establishing trails, and more.

“I love to be outside,” Caroline says. “And there’s the camaraderie of a group working together.”

Rick and Emmy Hausman organized workdays for members of their family foundation that brought together about 20 people, ranging in age from 4 to 77. “We wanted to show townsfolk that there was a lot of energy devoted to the mountain,” Rick says. “Everybody in town has connections to it.”

Rick and Emmy - two volunteers at Tucker Mountain Town Forest

Rick and Emmy Hausman. Credit: Chris Cartter

VLT forester David McMath helps the community better understand the land and develop a plan, working closely with county forester David Paganelli. “It takes a lot for a community to manage a town forest,” says David McMath. “When they’re passionate and active, as in Newbury, the land is healthier and available to all, something of enormous value to the town.”

“It’s nice to have a little piece of wilderness nearby that we can give back to,” says Tom Kidder.