County Lands & Community Programs
Recreation, Education, & Resource Management
In addition to the County Complex, Sullivan County owns more than 2100 acres of undeveloped land in the town of Unity. Consisting of 5 diverse parcels, most county lands are old farms with forests, fields, streams, wetlands, and mountain views. Trails allow access to some of these special places including Sam's Overlook, where you can see into Vermont on a clear day. Education sites at Marshall Pond and the Eco Ag Center are used year round to teach school children, families, and adults about natural resources and management techniques.
Check out these topography maps of the 5 different parcels!
The county welcomes recreation on its lands, including hiking, hunting, fishing, gardening and snowmobiling (on designated trails only).
Unity Mountain Hiking Trail
This hiking trail was created to give people an opportunity to enjoy, explore, and learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Sullivan County. Keep in mind this trail is used by hikers, hunters, nature watchers, school groups, and many others. Please be respectful of all users by following these guidelines.
- Please do not litter. This is a carry in/ carry out trail.
- Please pick up after your pets.
- Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
- Campfires are prohibited.
Built entirely on public lands in the Town of Unity, the Unity Mountain Trail is a four mile long hiking/walking path showcasing the varied cultural and natural histories of Sullivan County. From its western end at the Sullivan County Complex the trail climbs steadily past a small pond before crossing the 2nd NH Turnpike and continuing gradually upward along the flanks of Unity Mountain before dropping down and following the shore of Marshall Pond. The trail's eastern end is located at Mica Mine Rd, opposite the historic Marshall family cemetery. A scenic overlook near the summit of Unity Mountain affords hikers a spectacular view. Birds and other wildlife species are often spotted along the trail.
From Claremont: Take Chestnut St (2nd NH Turnpike) toward Unity, approximately 4.8 miles. At the Sullivan County Complex sign, continue straight onto County Farm Rd. Kiosk or continue to Mica Mine Rd. Kiosk From Lempster and Route 10: Take 2nd NH Turnpike toward Claremont 10.1 miles.
There are three parking areas: 1. Up the hill from the County Health Care Staff parking lot at the County Complex 2. On 2nd NH Turnpike near DOT Salt Shed. 3. On Mica Mine Rd. See the Map for trailhead locations.
Unity Mountain Trail Brochure - You will find these trail maps at the kiosk at each trailhead as well.
This project was funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Program through the NH Bureau of Trails. Sam Sprague and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) created this trail in 2018. UVLSRPC created the trial map. Volunteers help us clean up the trail each spring. We could still use some volunteers to groom the trail in the winter for cross country skiing.
Eco Ag Center
The Eco Ag Center is made up of the SCCD Community Garden, research high tunnels, native pollinator gardens, an outdoor classroom, fishing dock, and Jessie’s trail. This area is used for recreation and education.
Jessie's Trail is a short trail that runs from the community garden and ends near the front entrance of the nursing home. It was created by Sam Sprague and named in honor of Jessie Levine, a past county manager, for her service to the county. Jessie Rogers created the bridge across the small stream and Nancy and Glenn Walker donated a stone bench as a memorial to their parents. Native wildflowers have been planted along the trail, which is used for education programs throughout the year. The trail is also used by staff during breaks to stretch their legs, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy nature.
The fishing dock was installed in 2017 to encourage residents of the nursing home to spend some time in nature. It was stocked with fish the summer of 2018. The public are welcome to fish here, but it is catch and release and carry in, carry out. You may notice the muskrat lodge near the cattails or the great blue heron that visits almost daily to fish here too. Eastern red-spotted newts and red-winged black birds also call this pond home.
SCCD Community Garden
The Community Garden is an educational, organic garden that provides county residents with an opportunity to grow abundant produce and create beautiful landscapes. Gardeners grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs to satisfy their hunger and delight their spirits. Since the garden is located on county lands, gardeners are also stewards of public land. They work cooperatively to share use of the land and learn from each other.
The public are welcome to visit the gardens and take a self-guided tour, but please don't pick the flowers or produce as the gardeners work hard to grow them. Check out the signage during the growing season to learn about the techniques used in the garden including a hugelkultur bed, raised beds, vertical gardening and bee hotel.
Learn more about the other uses of the Eco Ag Center and how to become a member of the community garden on the Conservation District website.
EDUCATION & RESEARCH
The Natural Resources Department partners with Sullivan County Conservation District (SCCD) to offer natural history classes, agricultural workshops, and community events for the public. We also partner with local colleges, high schools and professionals through research projects and internships. Use the links below to learn more about these programs.
There are two sites for education on the county lands so far, one at Marshall Pond that connects to Unity Mountain Trail and the other at the County Complex near the Eco Ag Center, which includes a community garden, native pollinator garden, research high tunnels, and outdoor classroom. Field Trips are free to schools in Sullivan County and teachers can choose from a variety of topics. Learn more.
We work with schools and Vital Communities to create scavenger hunts that highlight historic, cultural, and natural resources in Sullivan County. Unity Elementary students created a Valley Quest in 2018 that starts at the Marshall Pond Trailhead in Unity, NH. Check it out here!
School to Farm Day
Sullivan County 4th graders are invited to visit the County Farm and meet farmers, producers, and educators as the learn about agriculture and food systems through hands-on activities and demonstrations each spring. We partner with the Sullivan County Farm Bureau, Conservation District and NH Ag in the Classroom are bringing this event to students for FREE!
Become a better naturalist and land steward by learning the ecology and natural history of the Upper Valley. Workshops and field courses are added throughout the year as funding and staffing allows. All programs meet at the Ahern Building at the Sullivan County Complex on County Farm Rd. in Unity, NH unless otherwise stated. The 2019 Series includes programs focusing on Lichens, Trees & Tracks, Songbirds, Plant Communities and Changing Climate.
We host educational workshops related to natural resources conservation and agriculture. Workshops are added throughout the year as funding and staffing allows. Sign-up for our mailing list and like the SCCD Facebook page to be the first to know about upcoming workshops or check out the calendar of events.
Public Cidery Volunteer Training Day
Learn how to use our electric grinder and bladder press to make apple cider. We want this equipment to be available to the public by appointment and could use some volunteers to help set it up, supervise the use, and clean it up after use. We will be having a volunteer training day in mid to late September at the County Farm in Unity. The cider made will be given away at the Claremont Fall Festival on October 5th and information about the public cidery will be given out as well.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact us. We'll keep you informed about the Volunteer Training Day coming up in September.
FREE CIDER samples will be given out at the Sullivan County tent at the Claremont Fall Festival on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Stop by and learn more about how you can make an appointment this fall to use the Public Cidery from Natural Resources staff.
Our department manages both the natural and cultural resources on the Sullivan County Lands with a goal of sustainable use and preservation of resources. This includes leasing agricultural land to keep it in production, our homeowner's firewood program, water quality monitoring, invasive plants control, graveyard restoration, and preservation of historic artifacts.
Homeowners Firewood Program (HFP)
The HFP is intended to provide Sullivan County residents with an inexpensive source of firewood while meeting County land management objectives. Participants who are granted a permit must cut and haul their own wood at their own risk and mechanical skidding is not allowed. Up to 5 cords of firewood may be cut annually for a fee of $25 per cord. All wood harvested through the Sullivan County Homeowners Firewood Program shall be for personal use only and may not be resold.
Contact the Natural Resources Director, Lionel Chute, to confirm wood availability and submit an application. Applications must be submitted in person to the Sullivan County Natural Resources Office located in the Sanders Building at the Sullivan County Complex in Unity, NH. Please call ahead to ensure that someone will be in the office when you visit; 603.542.4891.
Water Quality Monitoring
Volunteers and students help us monitor the 5 ponds and the Little Sugar River on County Lands in Unity by testing water chemistry and surveying aquatic life. Colby Sawyer College, Stevens High School, Unity Elementary, and Watershed Ecology Institute students have helped out thus far. Learn more about how you can get involved here.
Invasive Plant Management
Invasive plants can cause significant ecological and economic harm and are changing the face of America. They impact wildlife by choking out natural habitats such as freshwater wetlands, causing loss of available food, or altering habitat structure or function. They out-compete native plants and destroy important natural communities such as floodplain forest. Invasive plants cause widespread impact to our fish, wildlife, endemic plants and natural communities. They are a major threat to native biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction. The importance of minimizing spread of invasive plants means they are a common focus of restoration projects.
Japanese knotweed,multi-flora rose and autumn olive are actively being removed from the Eco Ag Center area and other populations on county lands are being mapped for future management. We host and promote workshops to teach others about managing these and other invasive species.
Agricultural Land Lease Program
Commitment to or priority to keep agricultural lands in agriculture has led to a land lease program that includes hay and pasture fields and sugar bush forest.
Check back for more information soon!
It is important to understand the history of a place including land-use and cultural history to best manage the land today and for future generations. We strive to maintain the cultural resources on the County Lands and to share the story of these special places with others.
Historic Gravestone Preservation & Restoration
We have partnered with the NH Old Graveyard Association (NHOGA) to learn more about restoring the stones in the cemeteries on County Lands. Stevens High School students straightened many of the stones in the Graveyard across from the Sullivan County Health Care building on their spring service day 2019. Restoration will be ongoing. We are also working to photograph each stone and research the people that lived here in the past. If you would like to help with either of these projects, please contact us!
Unity Town Pound
We are partnering with Unity Elementary School and Unity Historical Society to learn more about the town pound on the Little Sugar River Property on Carroll Brook Rd.