N.H. Audubon Reports White Supremacist Vandalism At Concord Preserve | New Hampshire Public Radio

N.H. Audubon Reports White Supremacist Vandalism At Concord Preserve

Nov 26, 2020

A trail at New Hampshire Audubon's Silk Farm preserve is seen in spring 2018.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Leaders with New Hampshire Audubon say they found white supremacist vandalism at their Concord sanctuary last month.

The nonprofit's president, Doug Bechtel, told NHPR that staff removed several stickers with hateful messages from trail signs at their Silk Farm preserve.

He said they were shaken and disturbed by the incident and reported it to local police. There have been no developments since.

Bechtel said they initially debated whether to publicize the incident further, worried it would make people feel unsafe at a time when many are seeking solace from the pandemic in the outdoors.

"So, when we found the racist signs, it was a real sort of threat to all people's ability to enjoy nature on our trails,” Bechtel said.

They eventually decided to announce the incident with a video message, in which Bechtel emphasizes N.H. Audubon’s commitment to racial justice. He said it’s galvanized them to work harder on programming and messaging that welcomes and includes everyone, regardless of race, in outdoor spaces.

"Our environmental challenges will not be solved fully unless we focus on the diversity of human communities, and embrace their differences and respect their backgrounds,” Bechtel told NHPR.

The vandalism at Audubon appears to have been an isolated incident. Bechtel said other land trusts they spoke with in the state didn’t report anything similar. Officials with the New Hampshire state parks system and White Mountain National Forest told NHPR they haven't experienced any such issues, either.