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Moose Mountains Regional Greenways is thrilled to announce the acquisition of Prentice Woods Preserve in Wakefield, New Hampshire. Located next to Province Lake, this beautiful 15-acre property is comprised of two adjacent parcels of land that have been donated by the Bakey and Gatto families.

The Prentice Woods Preserve is surrounded by suburban growth in a highly desirable lakeside setting, making its protection from further development urgent. In a critical wetland habitat, the Preserve hosts vernal pool sites and is home to dozens of native plant and animal species.  In addition to safeguarding these crucial ecological features, the Preserve will be an excellent place for residents and visitors alike to retreat into nature, away from the stressors of today’s busy lifestyle. 

MMRG Executive Director Jillian Eldredge stated her gratitude to the landowners — “MMRG is proud to have worked closely with the Bakey and Gatto families to bring this project to fruition. Successful conservation projects most often begin with the vision and values of landowners and the generosity and foresight of these two families will protect water quality, wetland habitat, recreational space and New Hampshire’s rural lakeside character for generations to come.”

The Bakey and Gatto families have made these generous gifts of land to the Wakefield community in the hopes that their vision of a local “pocket preserve” will be achieved. Both families know the true value of the Preserve, and are eager to pass the land and its lessons on to others who can enjoy and honor it for many years to come. 

Nicole Csiszer, Chair of the MMRG Board of Directors, said the Board was inspired by the infectious enthusiasm of the families — “On behalf of the MMRG Board of Directors, we wish to acknowledge and celebrate the generous land donations from both the Bakey and Gatto families. We have been touched getting to know both families, their strong connection to these properties, and a long-held desire to protect our natural resources. In honor of a prior owner and conservation advocate, MMRG has chosen to name these lands the Prentice Woods Preserve. We are inspired by the Bakey and Gatto’s generosity and vision for this land and are honored by the responsibility for its protection in perpetuity.”

Ken Gatto grew up spending summers at Province Lake, since 1948. In the 1980’s, he and his wife Joan purchased land in the area to provide protection and stewardship as suburban development expanded around the Lake. Now, the Gattos enjoy walking their portion of the Preserve with their grandchildren and using the property as an opportunity to build a love of nature and respect for the land. After caring for the land for many years, the Gattos decided that the next best step would be to guarantee permanent conservation of the land with MMRG.

“We have seen how land around the lake is used nowadays. Preservation for the good of the lake and for its own sake has become even more important. The opportunity that Moose Mountain Regional Greenways has given us to preserve, protect and gently use the land is beyond any value or use that someone may put to it,” Gatto said.

Janice Bakey has fond memories spanning decades of the land her family has donated, too many to count. Her family is thrilled that others will be able to build their own cherished memories and adventures on the same property.

Our grateful appreciation to MMRG for helping us donate a ‘pristine wetland’ as conservation property. Through this action we hope future generations will continue to enjoy this land and its natural beauty as it helps to maintain the water quality of Province Lake,” said Bakey.

While the land itself has been donated, MMRG must raise $22,000 for legal and transaction fees as well as for continued land stewardship. We need your help to close this gap in funding and establish the Prentice Woods Preserve as a resource for the community, forever!

As a nonprofit organization, we rely completely on the support of donors and community members to conserve places in New Hampshire that make our state special. By working together, we can protect the Prentice Woods Preserve from suburban sprawl, preserve its natural wonders in perpetuity, and bring the Bakey and Gatto families’ vision to fruition.   

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Contributions of any amount are welcomed either online or by mail. To give online, please visit our easy, secure funding platform at https://bit.ly/prenticewoods. Donations via check can be made payable to Moose Mountain Regional Greenways and sent to our office at: Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, P.O. Box 191, Union, NH 03887