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Frequently Asked Questions

 Please click on a question to learn more about the merger of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy and Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire.

  1. Why are the two organizations merging?
  2. How did the merger come about?
  3. What will be the name of the merged organization?
  4. Where will the land trust office be?
  5. How will this merger affect land protection?
  6. Where will the new Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire focus its land protection efforts?
  7. What happens to my membership in the Strafford Rivers Conservancy or Southeast Land Trust of NH?
  8. What happens to the existing conservation easements and lands of both organizations?
  9. Will the organizaiton remain accredited with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission?
  10. Will the Ashton Hallet award continue?  Will the Jack Heath award continue?
  11. What will be the geographic coverage of the merged organization?
  12. Who will be the staff?
  13. Who will be the Board of Directors?
  14. Who will be the officers of the new Board?
  15. What is the financial status of the new organization?
  16. How are the expenses of the merger being covered?
  17. When will the merger become fully implemented and effective?

 1. Why are the two organizations merging?
The Boards of both organizations believe that the unification of the organizations will result in many benefits to the people and communities we serve.

  • Better effectuate our mission of land conservation: The natural resources and lands that we strive to protect cross the political boundaries of our towns and counties. Envisioning our service area as the greater Coastal Watershed, which encompasses 99% of the Great Bay watershed and surrounding lands, allows us to look beyond these political boundaries and work on a broader landscape scale that is more meaningful in the long-term. We also believe that a cohesive organization representing more than 30% of the state’s population in two large and growing counties will strengthen the voice of conservation in the area.
  • More efficiently use limited resources: The merged organization will gain efficiencies in administration by eliminating or consolidating duplicative administrative overhead (office space, phone, website, and certain staff functions) and allocating those savings to our core programs. In fact, the merger will allow for the hiring of two additional professional staff, critical to our ability to implement our mission. Specifically, in the fall of 2014, a new full-time land protection agent will be hired. In 2015, the organization intends to hire a full-time easement stewardship staff person to monitor and steward existing and new conserva¬tion easements.
  • Strengthen our capacity to fulfill obligations of stewardship in perpetuity: Conservation is for the long haul, and the Boards believe that combined, the organization will better monitor and steward our conservation interests. The unified organization can better withstand potential legal actions by having greater resources available than would be otherwise available to each organization individually.
  • Better for donors: Finally, we believe the merger will be better for you, our supporters. A combined organization will be stronger than two separate organizations pursuing the same funding sources. It will ease potential donor and funder confusion about the two organizations. Back to top

 2. How did the merger come about?
Changes in an organization’s leadership often offer an opportunity to evaluate the future of a non-profit. In December 2013, merger discussions were initiated after the departure of Strafford Rivers Conservancy’s long-time Executive Director Anna Boudreau. After initial informal discussions, the Boards of both organizations appointed representatives to a merger negotiation committee, who with professional facilitation from Alice Chamberlin, evaluated the benefits and risks of a merger. By April, the merger negotiation committee presented its recommendation to merge for consideration by the Boards. The Boards of both organizations separately voted in April to accept the committee’s recommendation to merge and began planning for the formal implementation. Back to top

 3. What will be the name of the merged organization?
The unified organization will be named the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire. The merger negotiation committee considered potential name changes; ultimately, the Boards determined that the name Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire accurately represents the service area and purpose of the organization, and that changing the name would cause unnecessary expense and potential donor confusion with limited short or long-term benefits. Back to top

 4. Where will the land trust office be?
The merged organization will operate out of the existing offices of the Southeast Land Trust in downtown Exeter. To reduce operating expenses, the current offices of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy in Dover will be closed this fall. Long-term, the organization is evaluating potential new locations that are more centrally located within the new service area.  Back to top

 5. How will this merger affect land protection?
Our sincere hope and belief is that the combined resources of the two organizations will conserve more land in Rockingham County and Strafford County. Additional staffing and financial resources of the unified organization will increase the pace and quality of conservation in the entire region. In summary, we believe that unifying thes two organizations will strengthen the strategic direction of land protection within southeast New Hampshire and better serve the individuals, landowners, and communities who will be able to rely on one regional land trust.  Back to top

 6. Where will the new Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire focus its land protection efforts?
The Southeast Land Trust currently has extensive land protection criteria that guide the evaluation and prioritization of potential projects under consideration by staff and the Land Protection Committee. These criteria focus on farmland, drinking water, wildlife habitat, wetlands, con¬nectivity to other protected lands, and forestland. Beyond the evaluation of specific projects, this year the organization is drafting a comprehen¬sive land protection plan for its work over the 2015–2018 period. This plan will evaluate existing conservation plans created by local, state, and federal agencies and organizations to identify the core focus areas for our proactive conservation work. These priority areas will be located throughout the service area, including Strafford County and Rockingham County. The plan will be available on our website in early 2015 for your review.  Back to top

 7. What happens to the existing conservation easements and lands of both organizations?
All existing conservation easements held by and lands owned by the Strafford Rivers Conservancy will be transferred to the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire. The deed restrictions, use limitations, and reserved rights listed in each specific easement or deed will remain unchanged, and the lands under the control of both organizations, whether through ownership or easement, will remain protected in perpetuity. At the time of the merger, the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire will be responsible for the stewardship and protection of more than 12,000 acres throughout the region. Back to top

 8. What happens to my membership in the Strafford Rivers Conservancy or Southeast Land Trust of NH?
Current members of both organizations will automatically become members of the unified organization. The Southeast Land Trust has a fixed annual membership cycle (July 1 to June 30). This approach saves postage and printing costs, reduces the need for multiple mailings, and allows better forecasting of membership contributions for the year. If your membership in either organization is up for renewal, Become a Member. Beginning this autumn, members of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy will begin to receive communications directly from the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire, including our quarterly newsletter This Land.  Back to top

 9. Will the organization remain accredited with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission?
Yes. Upon application for renewal of our accredited status in 2017, we will need to demonstrate compliance with the accreditation standards for all projects of the organization, including the Strafford Rivers Conservancy’s existing portfolio of completed easements and ownerships. The scope of this work is understood and will be completed over the next three years. Back to top

 10.  Will the Ashton Hallett award continue? Will the Jack Heath award continue?
Both organizations have a long tradition of recognizing their founding members, Ashton Hallett of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy and Jack Heath of the Rockingham Land Trust, through an annual award for conservation leadership in their respective county. The Boards have agreed that this tradition will continue with awards presented annually to a recipient from Strafford County and Rockingham County.  Back to top

 11. What will be the geographic coverage of the merged organization?
The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire will work within the same communities currently served by each organization. This area includes 52 communities within southeastern New Hampshire and 99% of New Hampshire’s portion of the coastal watershed of Great Bay.  Back to top

 12. Who will be the staff?
The current staff of the Southeast Land Trust will continue to work for the unified organization:

  • Brian Hart will continue as the Executive Director. He has worked for the Southeast Land Trust and its predecessor Rockingham Land Trust since October of 2002. Brian lives in Newmarket with his wife and two young children, where he has served as a member of the Town Council, Budget Committee, and Community Development Corporation.
  • Deborah Goard will continue as the Easement Stewardship Manager and will have primary responsibility for the stewardship of the merged organization’s 160+ conservation easements. She will also assist efforts to complete new land conservation projects. Debbie previously worked as the Strafford County Forester and lives in Dover with her family.
  • Duane Hyde will remain as Land Protection Director. Duane came to the Southeast Land Trust in 2013 after working for nearly 13 years at the NH Chapter of The Nature Conservancy where he most recently served as the Director of Conservation Programs and the acquisition agent for the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership. Duane lives in Durham with his wife, two school age daughters and aging black Labrador retriever.
  • Phil Auger is the Property Manager for the Southeast Land Trust and assists with land conservation projects. Phil is a licensed forester and for many years worked for UNH Cooperative Extension as a County Forester and Land Conservation Educator in Rockingham County. He and his wife Carolyn and dog Teak live in Strafford on land that they have permanently conserved.
  • David Viale has worked for the Southeast Land Trust since 2008 as a Land Protection and Stewardship Specialist. He is responsible for completing new land protection projects and supporting the monitoring and stewardship of existing protected lands, including both conservation easements and fee ownerships. Outside of work you’ll find David playing his mandolin, attending Bluegrass festivals, and playing in a vintage baseball league.
  • Isabel Aley is the Office Manager and Outreach Coordinator. Born and raised in Midcoast Maine, Isabel has always held a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of New England. She graduated from Bates College, where she majored in English and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Isabel worked for Portland Trails, an urban trail-building organization, and The Sunrise Guide, a sustainable living resource guide in Maine. Out of the office, you can find Isabel exploring the great outdoors with her husband and two dogs.
  • Zoe Aldag is the Development Assistant at the Southeast Land Trust. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation Studies. Zoe has interned with the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, BLH Writing Solutions, and the NH Department of Environmen¬tal Services. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, riding her bike, traveling, and enjoying all the area has to offer. Zoe is from Lee, and lives in Portsmouth.

For various reasons, the existing staff of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy will not continue as staff members of the merged organization. Linda McGivern, who graciously agreed to step in as interim executive director on a temporary basis, will join the Board of the merged organization. Kam Damtoft currently serves as Member¬ship & Outreach Coordinator. While Kam will not be continuing in this role with the merged organization, she is thrilled with the merger and has volunteered to help celebrate it as a member of the Fall Foliage Fundraiser committee. Sara Callaghan temporar¬ily rejoined this spring to support easement monitoring during the transitional period of the merger. She previously had left in December for the birth of her second child and planned to be a stay-at-home mom with her two young children. She will be leaving her position when the merger is implemented. Coinci¬dentally, she is married to the Southeast Land Trust’s Executive Director, Brian Hart.

As previously described, additional positions of a Land Protection Specialist and an Easement Monitor will be hired in 2014 and 2015.  Back to top

  13. Who will be the Board of Directors?
The Board will range between 15 and 21 members in size and initially start with 19 members representing both organizations. As part of the merger negotiation, Board members from each orga¬nization were asked to indicate if they wanted to continue serving. Long-time Strafford Rivers Conservancy Board members Nancy Carmer, Steve Dibble, Bruce Kerr, and Alex Roberts have decided to retire from the Board at the time of the merger. Southeast Land Trust Board members Dick Wollmar, Betsy Sanders, and Hunter Brownlie also decided to retire, effective this past June. We thank them all for their tremendous efforts and dedication!

The merged Board will include the following Strafford Rivers Conservancy Directors:

  • Kevin McEneaney (Dover)
  • Linda McGivern (Rollinsford)
  • Sam Reid (Dover)
  • Laurie Smith (Durham)
  • Ann Welsh (Durham)

and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire Directors:

  • Don Briselden (Exeter)
  • William Campbell (Exeter)
  • Emma Carcagno (Newmarket)
  • Thomas Chamberlin (Exeter)
  • Terrence Coyle (Portsmouth)
  • Anne de Cossy (Hampton Falls)
  • Robert Eaton (Rye)
  • David Kirkpatrick (Portsmouth)
  • Scott Marion (Rye)
  • Robin Najar (Portsmouth)
  • Joan Pratt (Exeter)
  • Rick Russman (Kingston)
  • Ann Smith (Kensington)
  • Roger Stephenson (Stratham)

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 14. Who will be the officers of the new Board?
Upon the merger of the organizations, Roger Stephenson will continue as President and Terry Coyle will continue as Vice President of the Southeast Land Trust. Sam Reid, the current President of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy, will serve as Secretary. Ann Smith will continue as Treasurer of the unified organization.  Back to top

 15. What is the financial status of the new organization?
Heading into the merger, both organizations are in strong financial shape. Consequently, the Southeast Land Trust will continue to be in an excellent position, both financially and organizationally, to achieve our continuing mission of open space protection throughout the region. The 2013 Annual Report of the Southeast Land Trust will be available on this website (check back soon!) or by calling the office at 603.778.6088 or e-mailing info@seltnh.org. The audited 2013 Financial Statements of the Southeast Land Trust are available at request by contacting Brian Hart, Executive Director, at 603.778.6088.  Back to top

 16. How are the expenses of the merger being covered?
We are deeply grateful to the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for providing the necessary funding to fully cover the costs of the merger, including staff time. Your membership dues and contributions will not be paying for the costs of the merger and will remain focused on our shared land protection goals.  Back to top

 17. When will the merger become fully implemented and effective?
While a specific date has not been determined, the groups are proceeding this summer with the due diligence involved in the merger and expect the merger to be consummated in the fall of 2014.  Back to top