Protects drinking water and farmland and ensures public access
Over the winter of 2010-11, the Southeast Land Trust permanently protected through two conservation easements 133 acres of fields, wetlands, and forests behind the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn. The land owned by New Hampshire Audubon and the Town of Auburn includes an area known as Battery Point, as well as part of the historic Brown Farm.
The project achieves the shared goals of a broad partnership among local, state, and federal entities including the Town of Auburn, Manchester Water Works, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Southeast Land Trust of NH, NH Land & Community Heritage Investment Program, and NH Audubon.
Because of the many public benefits, this land was a conservation priority both locally and statewide,” notes David Viale, Land Protection & Stewardship Specialist with the Southeast Land Trust. “Conserving this land helps protect the water quality of Massabesic Lake, preserves critical wildlife habitat, provides opportunity for local agriculture, and ensures that large blocks of open space will remain undeveloped and available for passive recreation and enjoyment by the public.”
The property is part of a large block of Appalachian-Oak-Pine forest – a specific type of forest that is found in less than 10% of the state and that is one of New Hampshire’s most at-risk habitats. In addition to the unique forests, the property contains over twenty five acres of productive agricultural soils and encompasses a diverse array of wildlife habitats including wooded wetlands, an abandoned beaver pond, seasonal streams, open fields, and marshes.
The conservation easements limit future residential, commercial, and industrial development of the property so as to ensure that it remains as open space and restricts uses that would degrade the natural resource values. Forestry and farming of the land may continue, so long as they are done in accordance with best management practices. The easements also ensure the land will be kept open to the public for non-motorized, passive recreation such as hiking, wildlife observation and cross-country skiing. As the primary easement holder of both conservation easements, the Southeast Land Trust is responsible for annually monitoring the property to ensure its use remains consistent with the goals of the conservation easement.
Funding for the project was provided by the partnership including funds from the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the NH Land & Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Town of Auburn conservation fund, and from the Manchester Water Works.