Centennial of NHTOA celebrated at Brown Co. House


April 06, 2011
BERLIN — The timberland owners of New Hampshire returned to their roots last week, celebrating the 100th anniversary of their formal association at the Brown Company House in Berlin, in recognition of the role played by W.R. Brown in the formation of their group — New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA).

The meeting took place slightly to the north of the original gathering — held in 1910 at Mount Madison House, Gorham — called by Brown as a way to help manage forest fire threats by combining interests to assist the state forestry department. That meeting lasted until 3 a.m., but set the stage for the formation of the NHTOA.

Brad Simkins, the N.H. State Forester pointed out that the NHTOA and foresters still work together to "put out fires," albeit of a more figurative nature.

Cooperation was an overarching theme among those in attendance representing various groups and agencies. Ned Therrien, retired US Forest Service and former president and director of NHTOA, lauded the close cooperation throughout the years between the forest service and NHTOA. "People wanted the forest here," he noted pointing out that the western part of the country had been resistant to the establishment of national forests.

Also speaking on the cooperation evident in the relationship with the NHTOA and other agencies was Rick Lessard, a Berlin native and NHTOA member who currently serves on the Board of Directors. The long-time logger noted how the NH Timber Harvesting Council was formed with assistance from NHTOA and cooperation of UNH Cooperative Extensions. The two groups were able to promote increased professionalism and attention to water quality, silvaculture and environmental concerns with out legislation, he explained. "It's voluntary and it's working."

Jasen Stock, executive director of NHTOA, stressed the group's roots in the Androscoggin Valley and said it was important to commemorate their milestone in the area where it all started. Stock called the Brown Co. House the "most appropriate place," to signify the event.

Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier also took time out to attend the event and speak briefly noting that Berlin today is much like the Berlin of 100 years ago. With a population of roughly 10,000 and an economy not yet dependent on paper, he drew parallels to the period in history while pointing out that since then there have been some low-lows and high-highs. The forest products industry will always be a mainstay, however, Grenier said. "The folks that own the land and work the land are the true stewards," he added, noting that the vast outdoor activities in the area and related economy would not be possible without the landowners.

Simkins read a commendation from the Governor to the NHTOA, which noted that more than one million acres of the state's working forests are owned by members of the NHTOA. He explained that the forests contribute $2.3 billion to the state's economy and 20,000 jobs.

Therrien closed his remarks by quoting the late Gov. Sherman Adams remarks delivered upon the 75th anniversary of the Weeks Acts, "We today have the obligation to secure past progress and to build on it a forest for the future — an exemplary forest that sets a national example, by practice and policy, for the public needs in 2011."

The meeting in Berlin last week was a commemoration of the group's centennial but a larger more festive event is planned in Whitefield, for the group's annual meeting at the Mountain View Grand from May 20-22.

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