By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 17, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- A group working to raise additional funds to aid the town in obtaining a conservation easement to protect the historic 120-acre Batchelder Farm on Exeter Road from future development has reached its fund-raising goal.
The Southeast Land Trust announced last week it has raised the remaining $99,000 needed to purchase the easement with contributions from more than 130 individuals, businesses and foundations.
The private funds raised included a grant from the Fields Pond Foundation, a gift from NextEra Energy Foundation, and more than 100 individual gifts.
These funds will match a grant from the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, $357,500 from the town of Hampton, up to $407,500 from the U.S. Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program grant, and a $30,000 grant from the N.H. Moose Plate program.
The total cost of conserving the Batchelder Farm is expected to be approximately $900,000.
"We are impressed and humbled by the additional support the people of Hampton have given to this effort, and grateful for their help in completing the funding for the protection of Batchelder Farm," said Jay Diener, chairman of the Hampton Conservation Commission.
"The impact of having this historic property protected is immeasurable, and will be felt for many, many years to come," said Diener.
The Southeast Land Trust is a regional, nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve Rockingham County's significant lands and natural resources, including farmland, forests, water, wildlife habitat, and community landscapes.
The group started the "Campaign to Conserve Batchelder Farm" last fall with the help of volunteers that including Diener, Bob Preston, Ben Moore, Sheila Nudd, and state Sen. Nancy Stiles.
Chet Riley of the Campaign for Batchelder Farm said the goal couldn't have been reached without the generosity of many donors.
"Everybody that travels Exeter Road and lives in the neighborhood enjoys the scenic views of this iconic landscape. We really appreciate the generosity of so many from our community and beyond to help protect this special place."
Brian Hart, executive director of the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire, said now that all the funding is secured, the group will aid the town in completing the purchase of the conservation easements from the Batchelder family.
"Our hope is to complete the project by the end of May and join with the community in a public celebration of this beautiful, productive landscape" Hart said.
Under the proposed conservation easement, Batchelder Farm would be protected in perpetuity and the land would be available to the public for passive recreation, such as hiking, hunting, birding and cross-country skiing.
While the Batchelder family would retain ownership of the land, officials said if they sell it in the future the easement would remain.
"This is probably the last open space of this size that is still available in Hampton," said Diener, on why the conservation commission thought it was so important for the town to protect it.
Another reason why the Conservation Commission wanted to protect the property, according to member Ellen Goethel, is because a majority of the land falls within the Taylor River and is area identified in the Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire's Coastal Watersheds.
Protecting the area, she said, is a high priority because of its role in maintaining clean water, productive forests, important wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities.