Posts By: Branch Hill Farm

Branch River Paddlers Enjoyed Fast Water

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887


Date:  June 7, 2017

Kayakers and canoeists found exceptionally high and fast-moving water in the Branch River for the annual paddle event presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT). Approximately fifty participants made the bumpy but exciting 4-1/2 mile trip down the Branch River to the upper end of Milton Three Ponds this year, where they were transported back to the launch site in Milton for a picnic lunch prepared by Chef Gracie of Sheehan Gardens.

Before they headed out onto the river, MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren spoke to the paddlers about boating safety as well as about MMRG’s mission to conserve lands and educate the public about the value of our natural resources. Consulting forester Charlie Moreno challenged paddlers to pay attention to the abundant wildlife along the stream banks, and in particular to watch and listen for birds, which are always present in great variety and entertaining with their vibrant colors and song. At the end of the trip, Moreno collected a list of thirty bird species identified by participants, including a Barred owl that was heard hooting from the woods for the second paddle year in a row.

Also at the introduction, guest Wayne Sylvester of Three Ponds Protective Association (TPPA) mentioned the importance of the riparian (stream-side) zones along the two rivers that feed into the Three Ponds, the Branch and Salmon Falls, for ensuring the quality of the downstream lake water. (Implicit in his remarks was the fact that) forested riparian areas, like those along the Paddle route, help maintain pristine water by preventing erosion of stream banks and by filtering runoff water before it drains into the river. In addition to supporting best land use practices through monitoring for soil erosion and offering small grants for amelioration work, TPPA samples and analyzes lake water quality, performs courtesy boat inspections to monitor for invasive species that can infiltrate a lake, and is building an emergency fund to deal with a potential invasive species outbreak such as the European naiad recently discovered in Northeast Pond.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways is a land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. MMRG has helped conserve more than 5,000 acres in the region and holds monthly educational outreach events to inform people about the importance of its land conservation work. Branch Hill Farm/CSFCT is a private operating foundation whose mission is to conserve land,  produce quality timber products, and educate people about sound forestry practices and conservation. For more information, visit MMRG would like to thank the business co-sponsors of the Branch River Paddle: M&M Boat Storage, the Land Bank of Wolfeboro-Tuftonboro, and Access Sports Medicine of Rochester.



15th Annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival

Branch Hill Farm, 307 Applebee Rd, Milton Mills, NH

Saturday, August 12, 10 am – 3 pm

This family-friendly celebration of the natural world features fun and educational outdoor activities including hayrides to the river, rescued wild animals from Squam Lakes Science Center, fishing in the pond, a petting zoo, demonstrations of traditional rural skills, a kids’ discovery walk in the woods, guided nature walks, a permaculture garden, and much more! Rain or shine; no pets please. Presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and Branch Hill Farm. $5/adult or $10/family. FREE for kids 12 and under. 

Photo credit: David O’Connor

Branch River paddlers enjoyed birds, learned about riparian ecology

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MILTON MILLS — Despite forecasts of showers on Saturday morning, about 30 intrepid paddlers set forth on a 4-1/2mile scenic trip along the Branch River through lush wetlands to a pullout and picnic spot on Milton Three Ponds. The day turned pleasant and sunny for this 10th annual Branch River Paddle presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (CSFCT) and co-sponsored by M&M Boat Storage/Sunshine Acres Campground. A couple of paddle stops with nature experts provided an educational aspect to the outing.

Guest presenters Nels Liljedahl and Don Keirstead of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) parked themselves on a sand/gravel bar midway down the river and talked to passing paddlers. Liljedahl drew attention to some trees that had fallen from the opposite riverbank into the water.


He commented, “Such fallen trees create excellent habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. There are many benefits to allowing these natural processes to occur.”

Keirstead pointed out how the river had changed course over time, leaving dry some sections of the sandy gravelly riverbed, which now support the rapid growth of numerous shrubs. These shrubs in turn support numerous insects and a host of birds and small animals that feed upon them.

The loose sandy nature of the river bank soils make them at risk for erosion if the stream side vegetative buffer is lost due to development. Thanks to the fact that the lands on both sides are conserved, the pristine quality of the water and scenic value of the area have been maintained. However, the Salmon Falls Watershed (including the Branch River) is one of the most endangered in the country, due to potential loss of forested areas to residential development, lending a sense of urgency to local conservation efforts.

MMRG Executive Director Virginia Long was stationed in a kayak near the mouth of the Branch River, where it widens into open wetlands dotted by islands of cattails, shrubs and a few water-tolerant trees such as silver maples. She helped participants identify various birds, including the ubiquitous red-winged blackbirds that thrive in cattail habitats and several flitting yellow warblers that tend to inhabit riparian areas. Paddlers were also delighted to see a Baltimore oriole on its hanging nest in the silver maple.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, a grassroots land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro, has helped conserve more than 4,400 acres in the Moose Mountains region. For more information, go Branch Hill Farm/CSFCT is a private operating foundation whose mission is to conserve land, produce quality timber products, and educate people about sound forestry practices and conservation. For more information on CSFCT, visit


CSFCT/Branch Hill Farm Board of Directors Annual Meeting

Several members of the CSFCT/Branch Hill Farm Board of Directors traveled from Connecticut to NH a day early for the scheduled Annual Meeting on May 19th to visit the new Plummer’s Ridge Hiking Trails at Branch Hill Farm. From left to right are Cynthia Siemon Wyatt, Managing Trustee; Thomas Costello, Board Member; Carolyn Settzo, Financial Advisor; Beverly Siemon, Board Member; Attorney Jim Strub, Secretary; and Charlie Moreno; BHF Forester.


Plummers Ridge Forest and Farms hiking trails open in Milton

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MILTON — It’s not often that the town of Milton has a grand opening event and the one held on a Saturday morning in mid-May wasn’t your typical store or restaurant opening but was titled ‘Grand Opening of Plummers Ridge Forest and Farms Hiking Trails’. The event was extremely popular, with over 80 attendees packing the yard of the NH Farm Museum, which offered a staging area for celebratory remarks and complimentary food. After tasting cider donuts from McKenzie’s Farm, participants headed out on some of the newly-blazed trails, starting at the new Branch Hill Farm trailhead kiosk just across the road (White Mountain Highway / Route 125), then returned for a hearty chili lunch

Almost seven miles of trails meander through 400 managed acres of forests and fields and along the Branch River, connecting the adjacent Plummers Ridge lands of Branch Hill Farm, McKenzie’s Farm and the New Hampshire Farm Museum. To keep the hiking parties of manageable size, Cynthia Wyatt and Kari Lygren of Branch Hill Farm each guided a subset of participants along a different trail loop, Mark Foynes of the NH Farm Museum took a group on a tour of Farm Museum trails, and forester Charlie Moreno of Moreno Forestry Associates led the largest group. He showed hikers the new scenic overlooks on a trail following the Branch River, while stopping en route to talk about forestry practices recently implemented at Branch Hill Farm to improve the forest quality and wildlife habitat.


One of Moreno’s first stops was at the ‘Tree Cookies’ sign, on which are affixed several thin slices, resembling cookies, cut from trunks of different tree species. By counting the visible tree rings and examining their spacing, much can be learned about the conditions in which the tree grew. Tightly spaced rings indicate slow tree growth that may be characteristic of the species or else caused by detrimental conditions such as drought or over-crowding and lack of sunlight. As pointed out by Moreno, a forest of trees needs to be thinned to promote their best growth, just like any garden.

Milton Mills resident Rachel Towne was enthusiastic about the event and the new trails. “I really like to see this kind of collaboration and the Grand Opening event to celebrate and inform people about the trails was a wonderful idea,” she said.

The public is welcome to walk, snowshoe or ski these trails connecting the three privately owned farms, but asked to please stay on the trails, which have been carefully routed to protect sensitive areas such as wetlands and stream banks that could erode. Visitors are also requested to leash and clean up after pets. Multiple trail loops offering options for distance, scenery and destination are shown on a detailed map with color-coded trails and marked points of interest, including the ‘Tree Cookie’ sign, the scenic overlooks, the old Jones and Plummer Family Cemeteries, and some cellar holes. Printed maps are available at McKenzie’s Farm, the NH Farm Museum, and at the trailhead kiosk across the road from the Museum.

The event was co-sponsored by regional land trust Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. The Farms thank Eagle Scout Stephen Steer and Milton Boy Scout Troop #155 for constructing and installing trail signs and a kiosk.


Photo: Rachel Towne

Photo: Cyndi Paulin

UNH Thompson School student visit

UNH Thompson School Forest Technology Students visiting the Branch Hill Farm Demonstration Forest on May 11th . Branch Hill Farm Forester, Charlie Moreno pictured on the left and Professor Matt Chagnon is third from the right.


‘Moose Mountain RunAround’ to Benefit MMRG

Is it really possible to run on snowshoes in snow? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ and the proof will be on Saturday, January 21 at Branch Hill Farm, the new site of the 3rd annual Moose Mountain RunAround snowshoe race. The race is a benefit for Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and enthusiastic onlookers are encouraged to come cheer on the participants. Volunteers are also needed.

Snowshoe racers will traverse 4 to 5 miles of open fields, snowmobile trails and single track around the 3,000-acre Branch Hill Farm at 307 Applebee Road, Milton Mills, NH.  The snowshoe race will begin at 10 am.

The suggested donation for the race is $20 in advance and $25 on the race day. Dion Snowshoes will have loaner snowshoes available for an additional $5 on a first come first serve basis.  Racers will be eligible for prizes in standard categories. Registered walkers are also welcome to enjoy the trails. To pre-register, reserve snowshoes, or for more info, go to or call 603-520-8533.

Volunteers are needed in advance to help prepare the course and on the day of the race to help with set-up and tear down, serving food, parking, directing racers along the course, working the finish line, photography, and compiling results.  All registrants and volunteers receive refreshments and a custom buff. To volunteer, call MMRG Education Coordinator, Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or email

The race has been created as a fundraiser for Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and takes advantage of the excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation in this region. Protecting such opportunities through conserving open space is part of the mission of MMRG, a non-profit land trust serving the towns of Wolfeboro, New Durham, Brookfield, Wakefield, Milton, Middleton and Farmington; see MMRG is grateful to Ilex Wetlands Consultants and Wolfeboro Oil for sponsoring the event and Beveridge’s Beer and Soap, Nordic Skier, and The Works Café for donating prizes and food. Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see


Special Thanks from Milton Resident

The Siemon Family appreciates this expression of thanks from a resident of Milton, NH, recently posted on Moose Mountains Regional Greenways Facebook page.  Our family is always happy to hear from folks who enjoy recreating on our conserved properties.

New Hampshire Fish and Game has just reminded the public of the need to thank private landowners for public access to their lands for recreational opportunities. Without their generosity, the Granite State would indeed be a far poorer place to live.

For my wife and me, access to Branch Hill Farm is especially important – it is essential for making Milton livable for us. So thank you, Cynthia Siemon Wyatt  and the rest of your family, for this marvelous gift that your father established and you manage so well!

Thank you, and please accept our warmest wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday season!


Workshop Showcased Multiple Timber Harvesting Systems

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
(603) 473-2020

Date: 11/16/2016

Workshop Showcased Multiple Timber Harvesting Systems

A unique outdoor workshop demonstrating four types of harvesting systems in a sustainably managed forest attracted more than 50 participants to Branch River Woodlands in Milton on a crisp November Friday morning. The free workshop was presented by the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust/Branch Hill Farm (CSFCT/BHF), with support from Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. It was led by BHF consulting forester Charlie Moreno and his colleague Greg Jordan, both of Moreno Forestry Associates, an ecologically-based forest management service in Strafford, NH. 

Cynthia Wyatt, Managing Trustee of CSFCT/BHF, opened the workshop with the story of how her father Carl Siemon grew Branch Hill Farm into a 3,000-acre Tree Farm, with 100 acres of productive hayfields and 2900 acres of sustainably managed forest land.  She stressed the importance of the BHF conserved properties for clean air, water, wildlife, and recreation as well as their important contributions to the local and regional forest industry, with its beneficial ripple effects of supporting multiple jobs and renewable forest products.

Standing next to a future high value veneer tree, Moreno enumerated the various forest products: high value timber for furniture and building materials; lower value products including chip wood used in power plants in northern New England, pulp for paper, and firewood for residential use.  Markets for all products are essential for an economically viable woodlot.  A healthy, sustainably-managed forest also requires matching the appropriate logging system to the forest situation and making use of a professional forester to envision and apply long-term silvicultural management.

Moreno went on to explain the importance of natural regeneration, which is the self-planting of forests.  Techniques such as timber stand improvement (TSI) help establish natural regeneration and future forest growth that is favorable for wildlife as well as economic viability.  Using a micro-harvesting system, TSI removes invasive exotics, unhealthy trees, and species with low economic value that shade out valuable trees like oak and pine.  Moreno recommends managing for a diversity of tree species and tree ages, from seedlings and saplings to mid-aged trees and older forest. 

Following this introduction, participants made their way to different sites in the Branch River Woodlands to observe demonstrations of the various timber harvesting systems:  Micro-harvesting for TSI; Conventional harvesting using the traditional chain saw and skidder method; and contemporary mechanized harvesting systems including Cut-to-Length (CTL), and Biomass harvesting (whole-tree chipping).

Logger Larry Hersom, with 40 years of experience, demonstrated conventional harvesting using a small skidder, chain saw and full safety gear.  After skillfully felling a tree, while avoiding damage to young growth and surrounding trees, he prepared the tree and carefully dragged it to a staging area.  Hersom recommends cutting tall trees in half, when possible, before skidding them, to minimize damage to the forest.

Hersom also showed micro-harvesting techniques in a young pole-sized hardwood stand.  Using a four wheeler equipped with a winch, he safely and efficiently downed a ‘hung-up’ tree, a potentially hazardous situation that frequently occurs when thinning dense young growth.    

The high-tech cut-to-length mechanized harvesting system, showcased by William Day Jr. and Sons, Inc., has the operator sitting in the cab of the mechanical harvester, using a computer-aided dashboard to control the machine with its ‘dangle-head’ cutter, an extremely versatile piece of equipment. After using the harvester to de-limb a tree and cut it to length at the stump, a mechanical forwarder lifts the trunk sections and carries them to the staging area.  As in the conventional technique, the timber has a variety of uses.  With nearly 20 years of experience, operator Bill Derubo commented that it not only takes a long time to learn how to expertly manage the equipment, but also to effectively work around the young growth and future valuable trees that foresters are trying to grow. 

Biomass harvesting is similarly high-tech, using a high speed rotary head on the harvester, a grapple skidder, a yard crane, slasher, and a large chipper.  This system was also demonstrated by William Day Jr. and Sons, but unlike CTL, the trees are gathered in a central landing, where they are processed and sorted into their highest value products including logs, pulpwood, and chips. Operator Mike Chagnon remarked that a good crew requires skilled operators, good communications, and teamwork.  Biomass works well for land-clearing projects such as converting forests to fieldland, or to create shrub land for wildlife, and is also appropriate for many forest restoration projects.

The program was enthusiastically received by the woodlot owners, students, conservationists, government agents, and Conservation Commissioners from Maine and New Hampshire in attendance.  Jeff Tarbox, 180-acre woodlot owner in Maine, commented afterwards, “The workshop helped me better understand the options available to landowners for harvesting and managing timberland.  Nothing beats seeing with your own eyes the new large harvesters in action, and what the timberland looks like after they’ve done their cutting.” Soil Conservationist Debra Marnich of the Natural Resources Conservation Service was equally enthusiastic: “This was by far one of the best Forestry workshops that I’ve ever been to.  It was really fantastic to have the equipment, the operators, the forester and other natural resource managers/specialists on site all together.”

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices.  BHF provides free forestry workshops in order to educate the public on the direct and indirect benefits from sound forestry practices.  For more information, visit MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information about MMRG, visit



Forester Charlie Moreno speaking to the workshop participants (photo by Patti Connaughton Burns)


Specialized cutting heads on a mechanical harvester (photo also by Kari Lygren)


Trailer truck for hauling wood chips to power plants (photo also by Kari Lygren)

UNH Wildlife Habitats class held at Branch Hill Farm

A University of New Hampshire wildlife habitat class visited Branch Hill Tree Farm with their professor, UNH Cooperative Extension’s wildlife specialist Matt Tarr, and with consulting forester Charlie Moreno and Extension Forester Karen Bennett. The students saw an active logging job and learned how wildlife habitat is part of a landowner’s management objectives and can be incorporated with forest regeneration and improvement.

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