Located in the shadow of Mount Moosilauke, the Upper Valley Stewardship Center’s nearly 2,000 acre campus surrounds the rural village of East Haverhill. The Center’s lands are owned and managed collectivity by the Oliverian School, Mountain Valley Treatment Center Mount Prospect Academy, and the Wolter Family.
The Upper Valley Stewardship Center lands are managed under a mixed-use system. Through the use of our lands, we strive to provide diverse educational and recreational opportunities; protect and restore native biodiversity; and practice sustainable and economically viable forestry and farming. The campus includes a working cattle and horse farm, large tracts green-certified forest, two organic gardens, three wildlife preserves and wildlife management areas, and miles of 4-season hiking, biking, and riding trails. The Oliverian Brook and North Branch of the Oliverian Brook meander through the campus, and are central to our management and education efforts.
The Upper Valley Stewardship Center is home to a fully operational cattle farm and horsemanship program. Everything from haying to calving is incorporated into the educational programming of the Mountain Valley Treatment Center and Mount Prospect Academy.
Becket Farms, a trade name of Center’s cattle farm, is home to the largest herd of registered Miniature Hereford cattle in the Northeast. Miniature Herefords are short, thick, and chunky breed of cattle renown for the flavor and tenderness of their meat. They are very efficient feed converters, mature early, and have great dispositions. Depending on the calving cycle, the size of the herd ranges from 40-60 head. Visit Mount Prospect Academy’s farm program blog for more details. The Center also operates a horsemanship program and horse farm. Please visit our horse program website for more information on the Center’s horses, facilities, and offerings.
The Center strives to maintain a farm that is in-balance with environment and our educational mission. The cattle and horses are primarily feed an all natural diet. Most of the food is grown directly on the farm. The Center has recently engaged with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to further implement best management practices across the farm to help improve water quality and maintain soil fertility
Green Certified Forest
The Center sustainably manages 1600 acres of working forests. These forests provide the Center with timber, firewood, and maple syrup and the surrounding community with a continued supply of clean water and diverse recreational opportunities.
Spanning the Oliverian Brook valley floor to the peak of Iron Mountain, the Center’s forests are home to a diversity of ecosystems and wildlife. The Center’s northern hardwood forests are interspersed with pockets of colder spruce-fir forest, warm oak-pine forest, rich sugar maple forest, and numerous vernal pools and seeps. Within these forests roam a full suite of exciting wildlife, including bear, moose, bobcat, fisher, deer, and numerous species of birds.
Students of the Oliverian School, Mountain Valley Treatment Center, and Mount Prospect Academy are central to management of the forests. They help with sugaring and smaller forestry projects. Each year the schools also partner to harvest, split, and deliver firewood to local families in need. Working in conjunction with Center’s natural resource expertise, wildlife and forestry classes help with inventory and planning.
The Center’s forested lands are on track for duel green certification. Green Certification is largely a market-driven solution to: improve the ecological and social sustainability of forestry and forest landowner practices; promote and support the growth of renewable forest resources; and to increase public awareness of the benefits of good forestry. Once a landowner and/or forest manager is certified, forest products harvested from their lands are marked with a market label. This symbol allows the public to differentiate the certified product and in established markets, allows the marketer to access green certified and niche markets often at increased revenues.
The Center’s forests are already certified under the American Tree Farm System. The Center is also pursuing the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) Small Forest Landowners Certification on a portion of its lands. Under the two certifications, all of the Center’s forest management must: address internationally nationally ratified principles of sustainability; adhere to all state and federal laws; implement proven silvicultural methods; and protect of sensitive and ecologically significant features.
The Center has number of vegetable, culinary herb, and flower gardens. The Mountain Valley Treatment Center and Mount Prospect Academy each maintain a moderate-sized organic vegetable garden. Each year students help plan, plant, weed, and harvest the gardens. Students also help process and prepare the harvest. The gardens supply the schools and Center with fresh vegetables and herbs for 4-5 months each year. Both schools use season-extending hoop houses and greenhouses to grow veggies late into the fall. During the late summer and early fall, the schools donate their surplus to local families and food pantries.
Wildlife Preserves and Wildlife Management Areas
While the Upper Valley Stewardship Center implements wildlife-friendly management practices across all of its lands, it maintains three wildlife management areas and preserves, where protection and promotion of native wildlife species takes top priority. The Bird Sanctuary, Beaver Meadow, and Mountain Pasture wildlife areas and preserves are managed to increase habitat availability and wildlife diversity on the Center’s lands. All three of the areas support old field and thicket habitats. When managed in conjunction with the surrounding wetlands and forests, these areas support a number of declining and uncommon wildlife species.
The Bird Sanctuary is the Center’s oldest wildlife management area and preserve. This area is located along the Oliverian Brook valley floor and floodplain. The Bird Sanctuary includes a mosaic of natural and managed habitats. Shrub swamps, floodplain forests and open emergent wetlands line the Brook. Within these natural ecosystems is a 10-acre area of active management. In this area, through regular mowing, we maintain a mix of open old field and wetland herbs and grasses interspersed with tree and shrub thickets.
Similar to the Bird Sanctuary, the Beaver Dam Meadow wildlife management area and preserve contains a mix of natural and managed habitats. Almost 10-acres of managed sapling and shrub thickets, apple trees, and old fields are surrounded by extensive wetlands and conifer forest. The extensive wetlands are all protected and include nearly 30-acres of shrub swamp, emergent marsh, spruce swamp, and rare floodplain forest.
The Mountain Pasture wildlife management area is located on the mid-slope of Iron Mountain. This management area is also being developed as a Handicapped Accessible Hunting Area. One permanent blind and three temporary blinds overlook the 15-acre management area. The food plots and old field and thicket habitat of the area are utilized by deer, bear, turkey, woodcock, and bobcat. The area is surrounded by extensive upland forests. Adjacent forests are also managed to enhance the area for wildlife.
The Wildlife Management Areas and Preserves, and implementing wildlife-friendly practices throughout our lands, are integral to the educational programming of the Mount Prospect Academy and Oliverian School. Students help with hands-on management and help evaluate our management successes through continued monitoring.
The Center’s four season recreation system is open to hikers, skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. The Center maintains a variety of trails from narrow primitive footpaths to wide, gentle pasture roads. The trail system is free, although donations are appreciated. See our interactive map on homepage for parking locations.
Our non-winter recreation system includes almost 18 miles of footpaths and multi-use (hiking, riding) trails. Enjoy stunning views of nearby Mt. Moosilauke from the “John Wolter Trail” or walk along the cool, dark shores of the North Branch on the “There and Back Trail.” For those of you looking for a flat, gentle stroll, the former railroad bed trail, the “Boston Montreal Expresss”, is perfect. The Center is also in the process of installing a challenge course. We anticipate this will be open in the fall of 2011. Trail maps are available here or at our primary trailheads. During the winter, the Center maintains almost 4-miles of groomed trails for skiing and snowshoeing. The entire trail system, groomed and non-groomed trails, is open throughout the winter, but we ask that hikers and riders please avoid stepping in the groomed track. Winter trail maps are available here or at our primary trailheads.
The recreation system is central to the stewardship and health and fitness programming of the Mount Prospect Academy and Oliverian School. Students help with trail clearing and maintenance and regularly use the trails for mountain biking, running, hiking, showshoeing, and skiing.
Oliverian Brook and the North Branch
Almost 3.5 miles of the North Branch and main stem of the Oliverian Brook meander through the Upper Valley Stewardship Center. They are central to the campus environment and collectively form one of the property's premier wildlife features. The Brook itself is an important habitat for a number of wildlife species, including brook trout, beaver, mink, and otter. Equally important are the habitats that the Brook sustains. The seasonal flooding, meandering, and scouring activities of the Brook maintain a number of wetland, river shore, and streamside habitats. Like many streams of the Upper Valley, the Oliverian Brook is still recovering from extensive agricultural clearing and channel straightening and armoring activities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
To expedite the recovery process, the Upper Valley Stewardship Center has initiated a multifaceted project to restore brook trout populations, streamside habitat, and water quality in the Oliverian Brook. Each year the Upper Valley Stewardship Center works with the Oliverian School and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to raise and release almost 200 young brook trout. By raising then releasing trout, the Center is helping the natural recovery of this species. Brook trout once played a critical role in the Brook’s ecosystem, but due to poor water quality and loss of habitat, their numbers are greatly diminished. Helping to improve the habitat and water quality of the Brook is also central to the recovery of this species.
In the spring of 2010, the Center, in partnership with the National Resource Conservation Service and the two schools, planted over 1,000 trees and shrubs along 2,000 feet of stream bank. The planting will help improve water quality by filtering agricultural run-off and stabilize stream bank erosion. Once the plantings grow up, they will also provide an important streamside habitat and help reduce stream temperatures by creating a shadier environment.
The Upper Valley Stewardship Center is also expanding streamside habitat through passive restoration. The Center is actively pulling farm operations back from the Brook and allowing expansion of streamside habitat through natural regeneration. In the fall of 2009, when constructing the new horse pasture, the Center allowed more than 50 feet of vegetation to reestablish itself along almost 1,000 feet of stream bank. In the summer of 2009, almost 700 feet of stream bank along the North Branch of the Oliverian Brook was allowed to re-vegetate.