Feature: Two Conservation Projects Finalized in December

It was a great end to 2015 for the watershed and the towns of Epping and Middleton, NH. Over 340 acres combined were permanently conserved with the closing on the Burley Farm and Speltz Property projects.

The sun shines on Burley Farm in Epping, NH. Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman, EcoPhotography LLC

The sun shines on Burley Farm in Epping, NH.
Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman, EcoPhotography LLC

Burley Farm, Epping, NH: 197 acres. The farm off of North River Road in Epping was once an active apple orchard and before that a dairy that sold milk to H.P. Hood, linked by the old B&M Railroad that ran on what it is now Route 125. The property also houses the John Prescott Chase farmhouse, circa 1790. It was clear that a property this valuable and historical should be preserved in perpetuity. The Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT) presented members of the Burley Family with their vision for the Pawtuckaway to Great Bay Greenway and shared ideas of how the once active dairy farm could once again be agriculturally viable as well how the property could support a public trails network. The family was impressed with SELT’s vision and agreed to sell the land for less than half its appraised value. After that the hard work of fundraising began. SELT raised all the necessary funds and then applied for $11,300 in Land Transaction Grant funds to help support surveying, closing costs and real estate fees. And on December 31st, 2015, the project closed!

“The Burley Family has now entrusted SELT with 321-acres of farm and forestland that provides multiple benefits for people and nature.  These benefits range from protecting important streams and wetlands that provide critical habitat and protect the water quality of the Wild and Scenic Lamprey River, to retaining the availability of productive farmland to provide fresh local food for our region.” said Duane Hyde, Land Conservation Director for SELT.  “We could not have completed this project without the enormous generosity of the Burley Family and the strong support from numerous conservation partners that include the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, Lamprey River Wild and Scenic Subcommittee, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, NH Mooseplate Program, and several private foundations” said Hyde.

Now the Burley Farm will be held in conservation for perpetuity so future generations of Seacoasters can experience a true agrarian homestead from the late 1700’s. In fact, SELT is hosting a snowshoe excursion on the property on February 20th at 9:00am. For more details visit the event link HERE.

A vernal pool brimming with life on the Speltz property in Middleton. Photo Credit: SPNHF

A vernal pool brimming with life on the Speltz property in Middleton.
Photo Credit: SPNHF

Speltz Addition to Moose Mountain Reservation, Middleton, NH: 150 acres. Located along New Portsmouth Road in Middleton the Speltz property is mostly working forest and it is part of the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River. The property was a prime location to conserve as it is adjacent to the already conserved 2,300 acre Moose Mountain Reservation and it abuts the state’s Ellis Hatch Jr. Wildlife Management Area as well as tracts of Middleton Town Forest land. The property has white pine and red oak forests as well as other hardwoods providing timber resources and wildlife habitats. In addition it provides more guaranteed access to open, undeveloped land and miles of trails for snowmobilers, horseback riders, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Society for the Protection of NH Forests (SPNHF) partnered with Moose Mountain Regional Greenways (MMRG) to raise funds through the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Adelard A. and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation, private individuals and the PREP/GBRPP Land Transaction Grants Program to purchase the land and place it under conservation.

“Protecting water quality, wildlife habitat and working forests that give us local wood products is important for all of us, but the personal benefit of this project that most people in the region might notice most is the beautiful, unbroken forest landscape along the Moose Mountain ridge that is visible from all around Lake Winnipesaukee,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.

A huge tract of open space is now established. The peach colored parcel is the Speltz property.  Map courtesy of SPNHF.

A huge tract of open space is now established. The peach colored parcel is the Speltz property.
Map courtesy of SPNHF.

“This area is a priority for us because it is a large and relatively unfragmented habitat that supports a host of far-ranging species, including black bear and moose, and it also allows outstanding recreational opportunities,” added Keith Fletcher, MMRG director of land conservation. “It was our pleasure to work again in partnership with the Forest Society to add land to the Moose Mountains Reservation, one of our region’s great conservation projects.”

The Moose Mountain Reservation is a fantastic spot to visit and we’re all so thankful to the tireless work of SPNHF and MMRG for preserving places and spaces like this for us to explore and unplug from life for a while. For directions and details for visiting  CLICK HERE.

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.

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