Urban Forestry Center

Information about the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth

urban forestry center

Introduction and History

One of New Hampshire's most unique resources is not found on a majestic mountain top…or in the state's many lakes, rivers, and streams…or even within its forests. It's actually located on a quiet road on the outskirts of Portsmouth, just waiting to be discovered by anyone who values New Hampshire's woodlands and natural resources.

The Urban Forestry Center was established in 1976, and was given to the people of New Hampshire through a generous bequest by John Elwyn Stone, a direct descendant of John Langdon, the first governor of the state. Mr. Stone's gift consists of 182 acres of field, forest, and saltmarsh, several buildings, and the annual interest income from a trust fund. The property is managed by the Division of Forests and Lands of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The trust is managed by the TD Bank - Trust Department.

The John Elwyn Stone – Forestry Learning Center is the site for most programs and seminars. It houses a large conference room that seats approximately 100 people classroom style has audio-visual equipment, a small kitchenette, a smaller meeting room, and restrooms. Posters, photographic displays, and other natural resource information is often on display here.

The Historic Cape / Administrative Headquarters contains offices, a natural resource library, and the historic home of the Langdon family.

Rosemary Cottage is located near the Historic Cape and is used as an outdoor classroom with a greenhouse.

All buildings are handicap accessible.

landscaping at urban forestry center


For do-it-yourself landscapers, the Urban Forestry Center offers ideas for perennial borders, woodland gardens, groundcovers, herb and vegetable gardens, and landscaping tips to attract wildlife.

In its "converging landscape" demonstration area near the main buildings, the Center has used plantings that blend with the surrounding natural landscape, and also provide a feeling of unity and continuous space between the buildings. These plantings complement the architecture, provide a welcoming atmosphere, and allow for heavy use of the area by people.

At the Center, visitors can see, smell, and touch hundreds of different plants, herbs, and shrubs, and get helpful information to assist them in planning their own gardens and landscape projects. For the novice or advanced landscapers, the staff at the Center can put you in touch with a variety of experts who can provide you with technical advice.


For those who like to experience the outdoors firsthand, the Urban Forestry Center offers a series of self-guided trails. These trails are used for walking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

The Tree Identification Trail is a self-guided walk that leads visitors through the Center's Mixed Deciduous Forest, Northern Hardwood Forest, Saltmarsh Wetland, Red Pine Plantation, and Blue Spruce Plantation.

The Goodwin Trail is a two-mile (round-trip) trail which takes visitors through scenic woodland setting, where native wildflowers, birds, and animals can be seen.

The trail also provides visual access to a tidal saltmarsh on Sagamore Creek. The marsh is a transition zone from the land to the sea, acting as a buffer between the lands freshwater and the oceans saltwater.

Map of the Urban Forestry Center, including trails  

Forest Management

Most of New Hampshire's 4.5 million acres of timberland is privately owned. This land provides timber, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, and many other benefits. Yet to be used to its full potential, landowners need to understand the importance of proper forest management.

In order to demonstrate that trees and forests need to be cared for and maintained, the Urban Forestry Center has:

  • A 95-acre forest management area which features many examples of deciduous (leaves) and coniferous (needles) trees that are commonly found in New Hampshire;
  • A red pine plantation, a spruce plantation, an arboretum which allows close identification of individual species;
  • A self-guided trail system leads visitors through scenic woodlands.

As urban growth and development continues, town and city planners, land developers, conservation commissions, and others involved with trees in New Hampshire's urban and community forests need to understand how to select, plant, and maintain the trees and shrubs that beautify our towns and cities. This technical assistance is available at the Urban Forestry Center.

Educational Programs

Whether you are interested in identifying animal tracks in the snow, learning which shrubs and trees to plant to attract more birds to your backyard, or just interested in becoming a better steward of your land, The Urban Forestry Center has something for you.

Throughout the year, the Center presents informative, educational, and entertaining seminars led by expert speakers; slide shows; historical programs; field trips; and hands-on demonstrations where you can learn about any topic connected with forestry and natural resources. These sessions are informative, educational, and entertaining. They also provide a great opportunity to meet other people who share your interests. (See Coming Events below).

Programs at the Urban Forestry Center are presented in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, New Hampshire Community Forestry Advisory Council, and the U.S. Forest Service – State and Private Forestry.


Driving Directions

Hours of Operation

  • Office – 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday
  • Trails – 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM every day

For more information, contact the Urban Forestry Center at 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801-5701, telephone (603) 431-6774.