PELHAM — The son of a longtime Pelham conservation commission member worked to have a plaque erected in his father’s honor, and to inspire future generations to pass on a passion for protecting New Hampshire’s forests. The new memorial will be unveiled Sunday.
Brett Gagnon is a member of the Hudson Conservation Commission, following in the footsteps of his father, Paul Gagnon, the current chair and 15-year veteran of the Pelham Conservation Commission.
He came up with the idea about a year ago to create a plaque honoring his father and the impact he had on his life as he watched his father request over $4 million from Pelham voters to help save over 1,000 acres of land from development. The original plan was to try to put something in Hudson’s Benson Park, but Gagnon wasn’t able to get the support he needed for the plan.
He set his sights on Pelham instead, and found a section of the Village Green that suited his needs. Gagnon had already presented the plan to the town’s Board of Selectmen and gotten approval before telling his dad about the project on Father’s Day
“He was shocked. He had no idea that this was happening,” Gagnon said.
The plaque reads “In recognition of of service Paul R. Gagnon, Pelham Conservation Commission. A father who led by example. A man dedicated to land conservation. Thank you for all your efforts in the area. Love always, Brett L. Gagnon, Hudson Conservation Commission.”
“Although the wording on the monument highlights an individual, the true intent is to show that a parent can have extraordinary impacts, not only on their local community, but also on their child’s vision for the future,” Gagnon told the Union Leader. “As difficult as it may be to raise children — especially in today’s society — being a good leader and a good teacher can really make society a better place for all.”
He said the two most important things a person can do is help protect the earth from negative human impacts and to teach their children to fight for the same.
Gagnon said he was surprised when the selectmen granted him permission to place the monument in the Village Green near some trees.
“I mean, come on. Who gets to put something in the town center?” Gagnon said.
Gagnon said he found a boulder in an old rock wall and got permission from the landowner to remove it and his father helped him cement the rock into place. Gagnon had a plaque made for $600, which he drilled into the boulder himself.
Moving forward, he hopes the towns of Hudson and Pelham will be able to work together on joint conservation projects. The shared border includes conservation land that the commissions hope to expand, such as the Musquash Conservation Area in Hudson and Gumpas Pond in Pelham.
An old bridge built by a Boy Scout connecting hiking trails at the town border is in need of repair. Gagnon said he hopes to secure about $1,000 for that largely symbolic project combining trails both he and his father are working on.