A map

This map shows, in yellow, the expanse of land on the eastern side of Surry Mountain that The Nature Conservancy hopes to protect. The green areas represent land already in conservation.

The Nature Conservancy has received a $500,000 gift toward its efforts to conserve nearly 1,400 acres of land in Gilsum and Surry.

The total expected cost of the project, which would convert an expanse of land on the eastern side of Surry Mountain into a nature preserve, comes in at about $3.6 million, according to Mark Zankel, the conservancy’s New Hampshire state director. With this donation, which was given anonymously, the conservancy has raised about $2.5 million of its goal, according to a news release.

The property has long been of interest to the state’s conservation community, partially because of its location amid other conserved and public lands, Zankel said in July. The area is home to bogs, beaver ponds and wetlands and provides habitat to black bears, bobcats and fishers, among other wildlife, according to the conservancy.

It’s been owned by the Casagrande Family Trust for decades, but last fall, the beneficiaries of the trust alerted the conservancy that they were interested in selling. The conservancy must decide in December if it will be possible to move forward with a sale.

The organization plans to improve the existing trail network and put in additional signage to allow visitors to enjoy the landscape while prioritizing the property’s conservation, according to Zankel.

A community hike on the property, which will allow participants to see the area and learn about land resiliency and water protection, is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The 2.5-mile hike will leave from Old Gilsum Road. Registration for the hike is available at www.nature.org/NHevents.

“This amazing property contains a critical watershed, a home to a variety of habitats and animals, and is a great natural resource for people to explore and enjoy,” Zankel said in the news release. “We’re hoping that individuals will join us to learn more about the property and enjoy a beautiful autumn hike as we approach the peak foliage season.”

Additional information about The Nature Conservancy is available at www.nature.org. Anyone interested in donating to protect Surry Mountain can contact Susie Hackler at The Nature Conservancy at 224-5853, extension 220, or shackler@tnc.org.

Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMcIntyreKS.