Nissitissit River Land Trust

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Brookline is privileged to be home to one of the few unspoiled, unpolluted wild rivers left in Southern New England - the Nissitissit. It is said that In Indian the word Nissitissit means "two brooks" or "between brooks." The River flows from Lake Potanipo in Brookline through Hollis to Pepperell, Massachusetts where it enters the Nashua River. All in all, the river meanders along for just over 9 miles.

It so happened that in 1962 a group called the New England Wildflower Preservation Society conducted a field trip along those 9 miles.  The field trip led the New Hampshire Natural Preserves Forum to list the river as worthy of preservation."  That in turn led to the formation of   The Nissitissit River Land Trust, incorporated in 1968.

The Brookline Conservation Commission was a small part of a large effort to establish the trust, along with representatives from many public and private organizations, including Beaver Brook Association of Hollis; the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources; the Fish and Game Departments of New Hampshire and Massachusetts; the New Hampshire Natural Preserves Forum, the New Hampshire Office of Planning and  Research;  the Society for Protection of New  Hampshire Forests;  the Conservation Commissions of Hollis, NH and Pepperell, MA; the New England Wild Flower Preservation Society; the Neshoba Conservation Trust., the Nashua  River Watershed  Association, and  individual  landowners. How wonderful that so many organizations and individuals were able to come together with the common goal of protecting this lovely river and the land surrounding it.

The Trust is devoted to preserving the Nissitissit River and its surrounding lands. To that end, it has five stated goals:

  1. To keep the river stream banks and stream bed in their present undeveloped natural condition insofar as possible.
  2. To maintain the waters of the Nissitissit unpolluted and clear running.
  3. To preserve a natural habitat in the marshes and along the river for fish and wildlife.
  4. To allow public use of the Nissitissit in keeping with the character of the river, including canoeing, fishing, hiking, and nature study.
  5. To provide a permanent green open space in Brookline and Hollis, New Hampshire and in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

To date, the Trust has acquired over 600 acres for protection (3000 acres in the watershed are protected in all). Whenever advisable, the Trust turns portions of its acquisitions over to town conservation commissions or other agencies with similar objectives. It is the Trust's intention that the lands remain in the uses for which they were turned over. Should the uses change, the lands revert to the Trust for management.  This ensures that all the Trust's land holdings, easements, and donations are protected in perpetuity.

In addition to acquiring land and land rights along the river, the Trust  maintains foot trails and canoe launches along the river and conducts hiking, snowshoeing, and  canoe  trips in season. The Trust will also, when requested, provide assistance to organizations interested in conservation and recreation projects in the river valley.

Anyone interested in tree farming should also note that some of the Trust's lands have been set aside for forestry management to provide models for owners of small woodlots. The Dame Lot, which was one of the Trust's first acquisitions, has been called "one of the finest examples of forest and wildlife management in the state." Indeed, the Trust has even been able to help support itself through the sale of forest products made possible by its forest management program.

But most of the money required to support the Trust comes in the form of dues and gifts. While this approach has been successful to date, rising land costs make it increasingly difficult to meet goals and the Trust welcomes new members.  Officers of the trust are available for conducting field trips and slide lectures, if you would like to learn more about the Trust. Or you can send for information to

The Nissitissit River Land Trust, Inc., Box 86, Hollis, New Hampshire, 03049.  

(From Our Place, July 1994)