Hampton Farm Is Protected Forever

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Herald Sunday, Sunday, May 8, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- The Trust for Public Land announced this past week that more than 155 acres of Hurd Farm, straddling the Taylor River in Hampton and Hampton Falls, will be permanently protected for farmland and open space.

The property will remain in private ownership, but an agricultural preservation agreement over the property will guarantee the most important farm soils will never be developed.

A water quality and recreational preservation agreement on the lands along the river will protect water resources, and provide for permanent public recreational access.

The agreements will be held and monitored by the Rockingham County Conservation District.

The towns of Hampton and Hampton Falls passed bond measures in March 2004. Hampton contributed $2 million of the $3 million cost of the agreements, while Hampton Falls contributed toward the protection of the 26.4 acres within its borders. Remaining funds were assembled through a $500,000 grant from the federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program; a $400,000 grant from the USDA Federal Farmland and Ranchland Protection Program; and $100,000 from New Hampshire's Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.

"Conservation of the Hurd Farm is a win-win outcome for everyone in the community," said Julie Iffland, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land. "It will allow the family to continue farming in a growing town, protect water quality in the Taylor River, and ensure permanent public recreational access to the land and river."

U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg said the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program was designed to protect environmentally sensitive coastal land in danger of development.

"The Hurd Farm project is a perfect example of why the CELCP program was started," Gregg said.

The LCHIP award is among the final grants made from the funds available under the LCHIP appropriation in February 2004. A coalition of conservation and sporting organizations in New Hampshire is urging renewal of LCHIP funding, and Gov. John Lynch included $10 million for the program in his fiscal year 2007 budget proposal, currently under consideration by the Legislature. (See related story on LCHIP: Opinion, Page F1.)

Hurd Farm, which includes more than 1.25 miles of frontage on the Taylor River, has been run by the Hurd family since 1926. Three generations of the family still live on the farm and continue to operate their dairy and composting business.

The Hurd's decided to seek an agricultural preservation agreement for the property, allowing them to make needed farm upgrades and to continue the family business.

"The town of Hampton is delighted by the closure of the Hurd Farm preservation transaction," said Hampton Selectmen Chairman James Workman. "This agreement will maintain open space and preserve a portion of Hampton's agricultural history."

TPL is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.

For more information, contact TPL's Concord office at 224-0103 or visit www.tpl.org/newhampshire.

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