The family of the late Edna Cann has honored her memory as wife, mother, and lover of wildlife by conserving 150 acres, named the Split Rock Conservation Area, that surround the family home in Brookfield. The Cann family donated a conservation easement on the property to Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. The easement ensures that the natural resources of the land will be preserved in perpetuity and that wildlife will be able to call this land home, forever.

When Fred Cann met his wife–to–be Edna, he was an avid hiker, skier, and camper in the White Mountains, but confesses, “I paid no attention whatever to what was in the woods.” Edna changed that. A self-taught naturalist who loved wildflowers, trees, birds and all wildlife, she undertook to educate Fred about the plants and animals around him, starting with birds. “The first bird she taught me to identify was the Blue Jay, because it was easy to recognize and plentiful.” With a laugh, he remembered, “After that, I suddenly saw Blue Jays everywhere!”

Although Fred declines the appellation ‘birdwatcher’, he enjoys recognizing a wide variety of birds and gets a kick out of regular sightings of a turkey flock in his front yard. “I’ve seen plenty of other wildlife too: deer and moose almost every year, a lynx out by the garden once, a young fox that made friends with our cats and would sit companionably a couple of yards away, and bears that came for the birdseed.  Edna came up with the inventive idea of a removable tray so we could easily bring in the birdseed each night but the bear could still smell it and would come lick out the corners of the feeder.”

The wide variety of wildlife observed on the property corroborates the designation of this land as some of the State’s highest ranked habitat by NH Fish & Game’s Wildlife Action Plan.  The conservation significance of this parcel is enhanced by its shared boundary with the 190-acre Warren Brook Conservation Easement, protected by Lake Wentworth Foundation in summer 2016. The combined 340 acres provide even more protected space for roaming wildlife and greater watershed protection for Lake Wentworth. The Split Rock Conservation Area easement allows for managed forestry to improve the health of the forest and wildlife habitat and allows public access for low-impact recreation such as hiking and snowshoeing.

Recollecting their purchase of the land in 1991, Fred expounded, “We wanted to retire to this area but it took us a couple of years to find the right piece of land. This was actually a lot more acreage than we were looking for.” He added, “Edna always wanted more land than I thought was necessary. But it turned out for the best, because it means more land is now conserved.” Fred’s daughters, Jodi Thiele and Stefanie Marsh, are also in favor of the new easement. As Jodi affirmed, “I cannot think of a better way to honor my parents and their love of wildlife and the outdoors than to have donated this easement. Each time I visit my Dad now, I feel a sense of peace as I look around… maybe the wildlife and wild land saying ‘thank you!’ ”

MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns expressed her appreciation of the Cann family. “The extraordinary gift of this conservation easement will benefit the Town of Brookfield, the Lake Wentworth Watershed, the State of New Hampshire, and the wildlife that will be able to call this land home, forever.  We are also grateful for an anonymous private donation that covers the transaction and long-term stewardship costs. MMRG is honored to hold the easement for this special place.”

The public is invited to join MMRG in celebrating this conservation project with a Winter Wildlife Snowshoe Walk at the Split Rock Conservation Area led by wildlife expert Charlie Bridges and forester Wendy Scribner on Sunday March 5, from 1 to 4 pm. Click here for more information. The event is free but pre-registration is required; call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or email