College Woods Coalition

Permanent Protection for UNH Outdoor Classrooms

Large tree in College Woods

"Every woodland or forest, in addition to yielding lumber, fuel, and posts, should provide those who frequent it a liberal education about nature. This crop of wisdom never fails but, unfortunately, is now always harvested." -Aldo Leopold

UNH students are in touch with nature on a walking campus. College Woods is a ten minute walk from indoor classrooms, providing education, recreation, and spiritual renewal. Other UNH lands, including East and West Foss Farms and the Thompson Farm, also contribute to the excellence of natural classrooms at UNH.

Our Goal

The Coalition is an organization of stakeholders - a user group - that is working with UNH administration to permanently protect and manage College Woods and other UNH outdoor classrooms so that they can remain an integral part of the educational and recreational experience of UNH and the Durham community.

The Many Benefits of College Woods

  • Education and Extension - Hundreds of students use the campus woodlands for convenient outdoor classes in forestry, earth sciences, wildlife, kinesiology, biology, ROTC, watershed ecology, and many other subjects.
  • Recreation - Miles of heavily-used recreational trails weave through College Woods and other nearby UNH woodlands, supporting jogging, walking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, birding, and, in some cases, trail biking. A trail for wheelchair use is being established in College Woods.
  • Athletics - College Woods is regularly used for cross-country and orienteering competitions. These sports bring various groups, such as scouts and home-schoolers, to the UNH campus.
  • Research - Students use the woodlands for research projects every year, including both undergraduate and long-term environmental monitoring studies.
  • Watershed Protection - A 1-mile stretch of the Oyster River winds through College Woods and provides drinking water for the University and town.
  • Scenic Surroundings - College Woods provides an easily accessible "wilderness" area for the University of New Hampshire - the refreshing, uplifting, and relaxing values of the College Woods are literally invaluable to all who experience them.

The new UNH Master Plan states, "Significant natural assets surround the core ...These natural assets are a microcosm of the New England landscape, living laboratories for the University, and opportunities for community use...They give the University an incredible asset that should be maintained as open space." The College Woods Coalition seeks to ensure this vision is perpetuated.

Did You Know That...?

  • The College Woods Natural Area of about 60 acres is not permanently protected - it carries only a verbal statement of conservation by the University.
  • Woodlands surrounding drinking water reservoirs usually have some level of protection, but the Oyster River and its Reservoir does not.
  • A proposal several years ago to put a road through a corner of College Woods caused a strongly negative reaction from the campus and the town.
  • The new UNH Master Plan proposes new buildings within College Woods near the Leawood Orchard and Maintenance areas.

Development in any part of College Woods reduces its usefulness for skiing, research, biking, teaching, orienteering, wildlife habitat, running, and open space.

About the Coalition

Paul Bruns, former Chair of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, believed that nearby woodlands are of unique value. Dr. Bruns was the driving force behind the designation of the College Woods Natural Area. After his death, friends and family came together to recognize his contribution to College Woods and to continue his work. On May 12, 2003, the so-called "Bruns Group" installed a stone commemorating Dr. Bruns in the Natural Area. This group has evolved into the College Woods Coalition, a semi-independent organization working with the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture in order to seek permanent protection of College Woods.

Where is College Woods?

The 290 acres of College Woods forms the southwestern part of the campus of the University of New Hampshire. It extends from Mill Road on the south to Rt. 155 on the north, and from the Entrepreneurial Campus on the east to the UNH Sawmill on the west. College Woods includes the Oyster River Reservoir, which is drinking water supply for UNH and Durham. East and West Foss Farms and the Thompson Farm lie south of College Woods, forming a nearly unfragmented forest area of 820 acres adjacent to the UNH core campus.

Become a Supporter of the College Woods Coalition

Are you a user / lover of College Woods and other UNH Woodlands?

Join the College Woods Coalition in its efforts to obtain permanent legal protection for all of College Woods and recognition and support for the value of adjacent woodlands. Please print and fill-out the donor form (pdf file) below:

Become a Supporter of the College Woods Coalition!

Send completed form and check to:
Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
114 James Hall, 56 College Road
Durham, NH 03824

~ Thank you for your support ~