In September 2000, I stood on the patio of the golf club at the Balsams watching the setting sun with Neil Tillotson. He began telling stories drawn from the landscape before us. Starting at Mount Hereford where he was born, we wandered the rugged terrain from his youth to old age exploring its rocky ridges and boggy depressions, summers on foot and winters on snowshoes, moments of peace in nature and times of high adventure until we arrived back where we started as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. In the afterglow that highlighted the color-dappled forest, I broached the topic of conserving this land. He himself made the case that it offers encounters with wildness and a chance to develop self-reliance that can't be found many places anymore. We talked briefly of the practicalities of accomplishing this project, and I asked him how he would like to proceed. With the hubris that one is entitled to having lived in three centuries, he winked at me and said, “I'll take care of this when I do my estate planning.”
It is common knowledge that Mr. Tillotson never got around to doing much estate planning. He was too busy living life to its fullest to even consider that the time had come to attend to this. When he died the next year at age 102, there was no clear path to achieving the conservation of this property. It has taken many brilliant minds many years to sort out his estate and arrive at the point where this project that began more than a decade ago can be completed. It is in memory of him and for the people of New Hampshire that together we will conserve the Balsams landscape.