A hiker explores Madison Boulder Woods Preserve in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley.
Madison Boulder Woods Hiker: A hiker explores Madison Boulder Woods Preserve in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley. © Joe Klementovich

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New Hampshire Conservation Groups Urge Hikers to "Walk Local"

In a time of social distancing, popular spots are becoming overcrowded. You can help by recreating safely close to home.

The Nature Conservancy, Forest Society, NH Audubon and Appalachian Mountain Club all caution would-be hikers to seek out local conservation lands rather than the most popular spots in order to maintain distancing protocols.

New Hampshire’s leading conservation organizations want to welcome people to their conserved lands and trails around the state, but are cautioning hikers to avoid the most popular spots in order to follow state and federal guidelines on social distancing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Nature is an ally through this difficult time: it has the power to soothe, calm, uplift and restore,” said Mark Zankel, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. “Although we must observe social distance, we can keep nature close and keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. While TNC properties across New Hampshire continue to be open and accessible, we urge everyone to stay local, and continue to practice social distancing. If you find a TNC preserve or other conservation area crowded when you arrive, consider visiting another area or returning at a less busy time. Be safe, and we will see you out on the trails again soon enough!” TNC preserves can be located by visiting nature.org/newhampshire.

“At New Hampshire Audubon, our top concern is for the health and safety of our citizens, our visitors, and our staff and volunteers,” said Doug Bechtel, president of NH Audubon. “We support the Governor’s message to go outside with social distancing and caution. New Hampshire Audubon has 40 wildlife sanctuaries around New Hampshire with a variety of habitats to explore. Choose places local to you (including your property!), and if you find the parking areas full, try a different spot where social distancing will be easier to support. We urge everyone to stay local, stay safe, and stay healthy. Visit our website for up to date information (nhaudubon.org).”

“We have 190 Forest Reservations in more than 100 towns in every county of New Hampshire,” said Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Many of those are quiet, out-of-the-way conserved forests where you can take a family walk or walk your dog. We also own Mount Major, which typically sees 80,000 hikers a year. Now is NOT the time to hike Mount Major, no matter how great the temptation on a beautiful spring day. Directions to Forest Society reservations near your town can be found on our website, www.forestsociety.org .”

“Be outdoors, but stay close to home, as our collective health and well-being is the highest priority,” said AMC President and CEO John Judge. “This is a tough time for those of us who would be outdoors as opposed to anywhere else, but the more closely we work together to follow public health guidelines, the more quickly we can return to the natural places we love. AMC is committed to supporting the evolving national effort to control the spread of COVID-19, and so we encourage and recommend limiting your time outdoors to brief, local outings and backyard adventures. Visit AMC’s website (www.outdoors.org) for ideas and activities that will keep you connected to the natural world at your doorstep.”  

For more information about NH Audubon, please contact Doug Bechtel at 603-568-1418. For more information about the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, please contact Jack Savage at 603-724-5362. For more information about TNC NH, please contact Mark Zankel at 603-491-7848. For more information about AMC, please contact Susan Arnold at 603-664-2050.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.