Photo by Michael Moore, The Keene Sentinel, May 28, 1998

April 1998

Emerson Brook Forest is bought by a H.C. Haynes, proprietor of a Maine Logging Company.

May 1998

Valerie Piedmont begins negotiating with H.C. Haynes, to purchase and save a portion of the forest from an imminent logging operation.

The logging operation is covered extensively by regional newspapers and widespread public concern mounts.

Valerie raises nearly $5,000 in one weekend and begins a seven month campaign to purchase and save as much of the forest as possible for conservation purposes. The idea of creating a wheelchair accessible nature center emerges and draws public support.

June 1998

Owner/logger, Haynes states his unwillingness to subdivide the parcel targeted for conservation. In addition, there is no provision in town statutes that allows for the subdivision of land locked parcels. It is determined that the land can only be purchased in a “lot line adjustment” annexed to the Piedmont-Fleischmann land holdings. The Monadnock Conservancy and a very enthusiastic Gilsum Conservation Commission play essential roles in the land purchase. The plan is to commit the forested land, once purchased, to a conservation easement under the perpetual stewardship of the Gilsum Conservation Commission.

November 1998

The Gilsum Planning Board approves a technical subdivision of 28.8 acres of Emerson Brook Forest for conservation purposes.

December 1998

Emerson Brook Forest acreage is deeded from H.C. Haynes to Valerie Piedmont.

March 1999

The residents of Gilsum vote to allow the Planning Board to waive frontage and lot size requirements for subdivisions that are created for the sole purpose of setting land aside for conservation.

September 1999

Valerie begins to pursue the formation of a nonprofit organization to resolve legal issues and to assure a perpetual, sustainable, guardianship of the land.

March 2000

The Emerson Brook Forest Sustainability Project is certified as a New Hampshire non-profit corporation on March 21, 2000.

May 2000

The 28.8 acres of Emerson Brook forest are deeded from Valerie and Pablo to the Emerson Brook Forest Sustainability Project.

Local environmentalists Annie Faulkner and Bob King purchase the surrounding 640 acres of Emerson Brook Forest.

December 2000

Application for registration with the State of NH is completed.

January 2001

The EBFSP is recognized as a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt non-profit organization.

October 2002

The first phase of the accessible trails in the EBFSP Center is complete and The EBFSP Center opens officially on October 20th, 2002. A wonderful trickle of visitors come to the opening. Three days later, a snowfall closes the access road.


Shirley uses her wheelchair at the trails.

January 2006

Conservation management plan is completed.

February 2006

The Sustainability Project holds it’s first Seed Celebration.

December 15, 2006

The Sustainability Project exchanged its 28.8 acre parcel of land in Emerson Brook Forest for 33 adjacent acres. A subdivision was approved by the Gilsum Zoning Board of Adjustments and the Planning Board, permitting The Sustainability Project to create a universally (wheelchair) accessible outdoor learning center inspired and informed by the presenting characteristics of the land. The purpose of the center is to:

  • promote an understanding and love of the natural world,
  • encourage environmental stewardship and
  • offer learning opportunities for a continuum of skills that reflect the most conscious regard for planetary health and the well-being of future generations.


After a season of workdays, The Sustainability Project reached a milestone on October 18, 2008 when Jill Robinson navigated her power wheelchair through our first year edible forest garden.

September 2013

The official opening of our new Emerson Brook Forest Center