Dave Mollison loves his land, the mix of Goshen forest and field passed down by his grandfather to his father and then to him. And he’s passing on that same appreciation to his six-year-old son, Justin. There’s a lot to love on the 80 or so acres he calls home – bear, deer, coyotes and other wildlife, oaks he cuts for firewood, big old trees that provide nest sites for birds and small creatures, wetland areas, and trails for exploring. As president of the Goshen Highlanders Snowmobile Club, he’s especially proud of the snowmobile trail that runs through his land. It’s one of the main trails in the area, linking up Goshen with others that go far afield into the hills.
Spend a few minutes talking with Dave and you’ll realize that along with loving his land, he cares a lot for his community, and that his love of his land is a generous one. He happily shares it with snowmobilers who park their trailers at his place to head out on the trails, hikers and hunters who knock on his door asking for permission to use his land, and the friend who pastures his livestock on Dave’s hayfield after its been mowed. Along with building and maintaining trails and bridges on his own and other landowners’ land, Dave and the Goshen Highlanders sponsor rides that benefit the Shriners, the local Council on Aging, and local residents who are in need.
Dave has a long-term perspective about his land, he wants it to be useable for his community for generations, not just for his family now. Enrolled in the Chapter 61 program, Dave manages his land by cutting firewood and periodic timber harvests. The last timber harvest cleared out hemlocks and opened up more views. He and his 74-year-old father spend a lot of time out in the woods “just looking at the trees” – noting which ones are crowding out others and can be cut for firewood and which to leave for wildlife habitat. Some of his favorite times are when he and his father ride out into the forest, turn off the engines of their quads, and just sit and “chew the fat.” Dave says, times like that are a chance to “get away from it all for a while.”
Dave knows a lot about snowmobile trails. He also knows about the many paths he can take to be a good steward of his land. By using sound forestry and agriculture practices, sharing his land with the community for recreational use, and providing good wildlife habitat, Dave has followed a lot of those paths. It just makes sense to him. “I’m just doing my part to take care of the land,” he says. “After all it was here long before I was and it will be here long after I’m gone.”
By Mary McClintock, from the The Highland Communities Initiative My Place is the Highlands series. Reprinted with permission.