53 Acres Conserved in Durham on the Lamprey River
SELT and the Town of Durham announced the purchase and permanent conservation of 53 acres in Durham as part of the Thompson Forest Conservation project. This venture protects the last remaining tract of what was once part of a 200-acre dairy farm owned by the Thompson Family. The land has been part of the family for four generations.
“The Thompson Family knew the importance of this tract for the community which is why they held onto it for so long under their good stewardship and oversight,” said Duane Hyde, SELT’s Land Conservation Director. “A project like this protects the drinking water supply for the Town of Durham and University of New Hampshire, but it also has important wildlife and conservation benefits and fits squarely within the mission and work of SELT. It was a pleasure working with the many conservation partners that helped it come to fruition, most notably the Lamprey River Advisory Committee which took a leadership role in getting this project started.”
Mostly forested, the land provides important habitat for many species and includes 3,500 feet of frontage on the federally designated Wild & Scenic Lamprey River, one of only two designated Wild & Scenic rivers in New Hampshire. The land has been traditionally posted against public access, but now will be open to the public for pedestrian access. The Town is currently working on a management plan for the Thompson Forest which will consider recreational access opportunities and trail development.
Shirley Thompson wanted the land conserved and asked her daughters to promise that they would ensure that the land would be protected before she passed two years ago. Her daughters Kim Laughton and Norma Thompson worked with SELT and the Town of Durham to honor their mother’s wishes. Laughton also made a donation to help bring down the cost of the land.
“This land has been part of my family for a long time. We hope that the people who come and visit the land will cherish it as much as we have,” said Kim Laughton.
The Thompson Forest will help buffer and protect an intake for the Durham-UNH water system. Conserving the Thompson Forest will prevent erosion, pesticides, and fertilizers from impacting the drinking water supply. In addition, 19 acres of the Thompson property is located within Spruce Hole aquifer which includes a well that is also part of the Durham-UNH water system.
After acquiring the Thompson Forest, the Town of Durham granted the conservation easement to SELT. “This tract is a beautiful piece of land on the shore of a pristine section of the Lamprey River. Securing this land helps meet the Town’s goals of connecting contiguous parcels of conservation properties. I’m so pleased we could find a way to finally fulfill the vision of Shirley and the Thompson family and find a path to conservation,” said Todd Selig, Durham’s town administrator.
Working with the Town of Durham, SELT coordinated and led the effort to raise the necessary funds to complete the project. Funding sources included the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as the NH Department of Environmental Services, Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership, Town of Durham-UNH Water Fund, NH Conservation Committee (Mooseplate Program), and the Lamprey River Advisory Committee.
This project is supported by funds from the sale of the Conservation License Plate (Moose Plate) through the NH State Conservation Committee Conservation Grant Program.