The longtime president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests will retire next year.
Jane Difley started as an intern at the conservation group, one of the oldest in the state. She worked for other forestry groups in New England and nationally before becoming president of the Forest Society.
She tells NHPR she feels privileged to have led the organization for 22 years, through periods of rampant development, economic hardship and social change.
"One of the reason that New Hampshire is as beautiful as it is, is because of this organization and its many partners who have done what we could to make sure that New Hampshire would always have these healthy forests that were available to the public,” Difley says.
Difley says some of her proudest achievements include her group's conservation of the Connecticut Lakes headwaters in Pittsburg, and its work opposing the Northern Pass transmission line, which is currently awaiting appeal at the state Supreme Court.
In her tenure, the Forest Society has more than doubled the size of its forest reservations – to 56,000 acres – and has protected 290,000 acres overall, according to a press release.
But going forward, Difley says she wants her colleagues to remember that preservation alone is not the end of their work.
"It's the beginning of our stewardship,” she says. “It's the beginning of our inviting people, the public, to come onto lands that they can enjoy, whether they are landowners or not."
The Forest Society’s board will soon begin a search for a new president.