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Land donation adds to Forest Society's Cockermouth Forest in Groton

Union Leader Correspondent

March 07. 2018 8:17PM
Pam and John McPherson purchased a 204-acre tract of land in Groton and donated it to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. (Courtesy)

GROTON — It’s not often that a couple’s love of land results in the purchase and outright donation to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

But John and Pam McPherson recently did just that.

John McPherson was in the midst of his graduate studies in biochemistry at University of California, Davis, when he was invited to speak at a Gordon Research Conference held at Plymouth State College in 1974.

During his visit he joined a group of fellow scientists and spent a day on Newfound Lake, an experience he would not soon forget.

“He called me and told me that it was the most beautiful area and that he would bring me there some day,” recounted his wife, Pam.

Some 17 years later, John kept his word.

After the couple moved from the West Coast to Hopkinton, Mass., they began looking for a vacation home in New Hampshire, and following an extensive search settled on a log cabin set on 7.5-acres on Punch Brook, off the North Groton Road in Groton, which they purchased in 1991.

The cabin provided a welcome respite from their high-stress careers — she as a registered nurse who worked in intensive care before becoming a health care consultant and educator, and he as senior vice president of biologics research and development at Genszyme Corporation.

“It’s really a great place to get away,” said John, explaining there is no phone service, either land line or cell, and no television.

While at the cabin, the couple would frequent nearby Spectacle Pond to canoe, swim and fish. They also enjoyed hiking Bald Knob, and during the winter months they would cross-country ski and go snowshoeing.

For 26 years, the McPhersons, their daughter, Carrie, her childhood friends, and more recently her husband and their two children have spent time at the cabin and reveled in the recreational opportunities available in the Forest Society’s Cockermouth Forest, which surrounds the little home in the woods.

When an abutting 204-acre parcel came on the market, the McPhersons decided to buy it and give it to the Forest Society so others could enjoy the same experiences they have over the years.

The decision, John said, was an easy one, as the Forest Society’s philosophy of land management matched his own.

“They have a balanced view of how to manage open spaces, hiking and hunting, and that’s what I wanted to have for future generations,” he said. “Interacting with the people at the Forest Society was a very professional and gratifying experience.”

McPherson recalled the reaction of the Forest Society’s vice president of land conservation, Brian Holtz, when told of the land donation.

“I think he was stunned,” said McPherson of the initial reaction. “The memories we have made here and our family’s love of the outdoors prompted us to act when this particular piece of land came up for sale. We saw this as our chance to give back for the many years this land has enriched our lives, and we hope many others will enjoy its beauty as well,” McPherson said.

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