Stamp Act Island in Lake Wentworth is rich in history and wild virtues. The island was once owned by Governor John Wentworth, the last colonial governor of New Hampshire, who was influential in repealing Britain’s Stamp Act. Despite his loyalty to the British crown, Wentworth’s actions to repeal the Stamp Act made him popular with New Hampshire residents and the lake and island were named in his honor.
In 1975, concerned about the island’s development potential (it was estimated the land could be developed into 76 house lots and a marina), the Lake Wentworth Association (LWA) asked The Nature Conservancy to help them permanently protect the island. Most of it was owned by Mrs. Virginia Davenport who was planning to sell the island. She agreed to give the association time to raise the money for its purchase. Interested in the wild character of the island and its heron rookery, TNC purchased the entire island from Mrs. Davenport and a second landowner, Mrs. Maude Cate, in 1977. LWA embarked on a fundraising campaign and three years later, with 475 donations ranging from four dollars to thirty thousand dollars, the campaign was successfully completed. TNC noted at the time that this was the organization’s first acquisition in which every pledge was paid in full.
Today, all 11,000 feet of the island’s shoreline remains undeveloped. Loons and other waterfowl patrol the surrounding waters while the island’s interior supports a rare black gum swamp with trees visible from boats along the shoreline.
Stamp Act Island is managed to protect its natural habitat values. Public access is restricted to a beach on the northeast side of the island. The beach is closed to the public for bird nesting season from May 15 through July 15, but is otherwise open for day use. Other island access is restricted to scientific research and monitoring by advance arrangement.