Ralph and Mary Lou "Mickey" Spofford of New London have granted the ASLPT a conservation easement on their property northwest of Pleasant Lake. Comprised of approximately 21 acres, including forest, apple trees, and a beautiful, five-acre meadow, the land is a key link in the regional network of hiking trails.
The easement provides for permanent public access to the property, which is surrounded by protected lands.
The property is of great historical significance, as it includes the foundations of homes built by Benjamin Bunker and his son, Nathaniel. Ralph Spofford has a deep appreciation for the site, and he has devoted many hours to researching its history, which dates to the late 18th Century. "Benjamin Bunker was known for his great strength," Spofford says. "There is about a mile of stone wall on the property, which certainly testifies to that."
During World War Two, a civil defense spotter’s platform was manned on the foundation of the elder Bunker’s home.
The Spoffords have owned the property since 1964. Ralph recalls, "I soon realized that the nicest possible use of the land would be to leave it as fields surrounded by forests, so that Bunker’s Farm looks like Bunker’s Farm."
Terry Dancy, a member and former chairman of the New London Conservation Commission, regards this as a very important contribution for several reasons. Four trails, he explains, cross the Bunker Farm, including the Wolf Tree Trail, the Bunker Loop Trail, the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway, and the Webb Forest Interpretive Trail.
Dancy comments, "The Spoffords have always been incredibly supportive of the trail system, so if this property had changed hands it could have been a real loss. This ensures that the trails will be open to the public."
The property also provides substantial habitat for wildlife, including bear, moose, and other species, and is part of a much larger ecosystem covering several thousand acres.
During winter, the property offers views of Mt. Kearsarge, the length of Pleasant Lake, and Mt. Sunapee. These views existed year-round when the Spoffords purchased the property, and the potential exists for restoring these vistas through selective clearing.