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The proposed protected land in the watershed of Monahan Brook lies at the geographical center of Hanover, bounded on the west and east by Two and Three Mile Roads and to the North and South by Slade Brook and the former route of the Appalachian Trail.
The area drains into the Hanover Center Reservoir. It is largely forested. However, there are several large fields amounting to more than 100 acres. This area provides an important greenbelt and wildlife corridor between Slade Brook and the Appalachian Trail. The fields provide scenic views to the Moose Mountain range to the east and to Mount Ascutney and the Killington range to the south and southwest.
This area contains two of the oldest farms in Hanover, one of which is still in operation. The area is largely undeveloped, except along the Wolfeboro Road. There have been pressures in the past to open up the Class VI section of Wolfeboro Road for development and for commuter access from Three Mile Road. The Class VI Cory Road also has experienced some development pressure. Some of the large open fields are protected by covenants. Permanent protection would provide great benefits for the public.
Although not in the Monahan Valley proper, Hanover Center is an adjacent rural village area, comprised of a number of residences, a green and beautiful church. The residences are spaced so that there are outstanding views to Lord's Hill and Moose Mountain, with a complementary foreground of fields and wooded areas of Monahan Valley.
Open Space Benefits
- Water Supply - The hydric soils are important areas for groundwater recharge for well water systems. The streams that discharge into the Hanover Center Reservoir provide water for the town public supply.
- Surface Water - Monahan and Slade Brooks traverse the area, as well as numerous other unnamed seasonal brooks.
- Wetlands - There are substantial wetlands in the Wolfeboro Road area along brooks flowing towards the Hanover Center Reservoir. Hydric soils are common in the more gently sloping areas.
- Wildlife Habitat - This is an important wildlife habitat area. Much of it is undeveloped and thus undisturbed. Two wetlands contain small natural ponds. There is also a manmade pond which attracts migratory birds and numerous wildlife. Deer, porcupine, grouse, fisher and fox abound in this area, as do birds of prey. Bear and moose are also frequently observed. A recent observation of a large grey owl feeding on a turkey carcass was reported. Class VI (unmaintained) roads provide important links in Hanover's trail network. (Photo in print edition)
- Biodiversity - The area is largely forested with mixed hard and soft woods species, but also contains more than 100 acres of fields. There is a full complement of woodland plants, including ferns and flowering species. The fields abound in wildflowers in the summer. This area has not been actively studied for rare species.
- Productive Soils - The soils are shallow and somewhat poorly drained over much of the area. Numerous rock outcrops are visible in open and wooded areas. Prime agricultural soils lie along both sides of the Wolfeboro Road. These fields were being farmed for hay and corn crops until the 1960s. Some haying activity continues; however, some open fields are becoming overgrown.
- Recreation - The Monahan Valley area contains numerous hiking and skiing trails on private and public lands. Trails allow foot travel throughout the area. Wolfeboro and Cory Roads are also popular for foot travel, mountain biking and horseback riding. The area attracts numerous local hunters.
- Connections and Buffers - Protection of both the Slade Brook and the Monahan Valley areas would establish a greenbelt running northwesterly from the intersection of the Appalachian Trail with Cory Road to the Connecticut River. This would complete a greenbelt running from the Connecticut River in Hanover to Hanover Center via the Appalachian Trail and back to the Connecticut River again. The Monahan Valley corridor provides an important connector for wildlife between the Appalachian Trail and the proposed Slade Brook corridor.
- Class VI Roads - Cory Road, with one of the best footpaths of all Class VI roads in town, runs through this area. It is open for travel along its complete length of about one mile. There is also a half-mile section of the Wolfeboro Road that remains a Class VI road. Both of these roads have had development threats in recent years.
- Scenic Assets -Spectacular views of distant mountains in Vermont are visible from the fields along the Cory and Wolfeboro Roads as well as from a height of privately held land adjacent to the Appalachian Trail. Beautiful views of the Moose Mountain range are also visible from fields off the Wolfeboro Road.
- Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - The cellar hole of the Cory farm residence can be found near where Monahan Brook crosses the Cory Road. There is also an historic stone bridge. Much of the area was open farmland and sheep pasture in the 1800s. One of the earliest farms in this area of Hanover is still active. The land was originally deeded to the Rev. Eden Boroughs, who, in the 1770s, became the first minister in Hanover Center.
- Education - The area provides ample opportunity for observation of diverse wildlife habitat and landforms.