Willow Brook, site of annual children’s fishing derby, conserved in Warner

  • Lilly Stickney reels in a fish at Willow Brook, also known as Children’s Brook, in Warner. Courtesy of Grace Dunklee Cohen

  • Harry Anderson helps his son Cole learn how to use a fishing rod at Willow Brook, also known as Children’s Brook, in Warner. Courtesy of Grace Dunklee Cohen

  • Chip Martin when he was a boy at the Warner Fishing Derby in 1975. Courtesy

  • Chip Martin (left) participated in the Fishing Derby in the 1970s and ’80s from age 5 to 16. He is seen here his parents, Nancy and Ray. BETH McGUINN / Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 1/22/2019 6:29:41 PM

When Allan Brown thinks back on his childhood growing up in Warner, he remembers picking up his fishing rod and jogging down to Willow Brook.

Brown, and several generations of anglers in Warner, learned to fish on this particular stretch of the brook, cradled between Pumpkin Hill Road and Bartlett Loop.

For decades, it has been the site of the annual children’s fishing derby each spring. And year-round, it’s an area that can only be fished by children under 16, the age where a license is required to fish in New Hampshire. As this tradition carried into the 21st century, the little waterway came to be known as Children’s Brook.

The tradition recently gained some security to continue into the future thanks to a conservation easement donation from the town and property owners to Five Rivers Conservation Trust.

Joan and Scott Warren own two parcels of land along the brook, and a third parcel abutting the Warren’s is owned by the town. Brown, who served on the select board from 2014-17, helped get the project started on donating an easement on the town’s property to ensure the site remains in its natural state going forward.

The current select board signed off on the easement at its Dec. 4 meeting.

“I always had a great time on that brook, fished it all the time,” Brown said. “I just think it is a fantastic thing for kids to have the opportunity to fish there.”

The brook continues to be a cherished part of the town and is a factory of memories for kids and families. Nancy Martin, who chairs the town’s conservation commission, watched her sons learn to fish on the brook, and both are still avid anglers.

“It strengthens the New Hampshire tradition of being outside and enjoying the natural resources we have,” Martin said.

The commission hadn’t considered a conservation project on Children’s Brook until the Warrens approached them a few years ago. Joan Warren grew up in Warner, and she and Scott bought their two parcels along the brook in 1986.

Joan could not be reached for comment on this story, but Scott called the brook and the fishing derby “some of the social glue that keeps small towns what they are.”

“The town really values both the wonderful social history and tradition of the fishing derby, as well as the stream and its water quality,” he said. “It’s a beautiful stretch of ultra-clean stream. And it’s important to them and us to maintain the ecological integrity of that stream.”

The easement limits the use of the land and will continue to allow kids to fish on the brook. Five Rivers, which has conserved more than 4,800 acres in the Concord region, is responsible for monitoring the property to ensure it is used for conservation purposes going forward.

“Five Rivers saw this as a public value that was a good demonstration of what conservation can do for a town and the children of a town,” Martin said. “That brook should always be fished by children.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3321, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)




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