1.4 miles of the Salmon Falls River Protected at Gauthier’s Farm
Gauthier family, SELT, and City of Rochester announce conservation of
163 acre farm on Bernard Road
November 30, 2017
[Rochester, NH] – As the holiday season begins, the Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT), City of Rochester, and the Gauthier family have delivered an early Christmas present to area residents: the completion of a 163-acre conservation easement at Gauthier’s Farm on Bernard Road in Rochester. In combination with land conserved by the Great Works Regional Land Trust in Maine, this project now completes an effort to protect over 1.4 miles of the Salmon Falls River, keeping it free from future development on both sides of the river. A recent Forest Service study listed the Salmon Falls River as the nation’s third-most imperiled watershed.
Over the years, Gauthier’s Farm has offered a wide array of products to the local community, including hay, maple syrup, eggs, meats, and the local favorite, Stump City Hard Cider. A portion of the property that was a former gravel pit used to supply nearby housing and infrastructure is now in the process of being restored back into productive hay fields. Most recently, the farm even gained public attention as home of the Salmon Falls Disc Golf Course, a top-ranked, 18-hole disc golf course that attracts hundreds of visitors annually from New England and beyond.
“We’re thrilled to see Gauthier’s Farm finally conserved. Working alongside SELT, this has been the Conservation Commission’s top priority over the last several years,” exclaimed Mike Dionne, chair of the Rochester Conservation Commission. “It’s truly been a group effort between SELT, the Rochester Conservation Commission and City Council, and the Gauthier family. One thing is certain: the people of Rochester will benefit from this important project long into the future!”
The conservation easement covers nearly 163 acres of the farm and will continue to allow agriculture and forestry while preventing further residential development or subdivision of the land. Funding for the conservation easement combined support from the City of Rochester, a partnership with The Nature Conservancy – NH Chapter and the US Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, private funding from Jane’s Trust, and a generous bargain sale by the Gauthier family.
“We’re extremely thankful to have the conservation easement finalized,” comments George Gauthier, who along with his wife, Rita, has owned this land for more than 50 years. “Our family has grown up in these fields, fished and played at the river’s edge, and continues to work hard to make a living the old fashioned way. We thank the City of Rochester and SELT for helping us to conserve this farm in perpetuity so that it remains a part of Rochester’s agricultural heritage and beautiful rural landscape,” explains George.
In addition to the agricultural fields, the conservation easement on Gauthier’s Farm also protects significant, highly-ranked wildlife habitat, particularly along the southern reaches of the property. This large floodplain forest supports a variety of important wildlife and also helps to filter surface and ground waters as they make their way downstream to the water supply intake for the City of Somersworth.
“Congratulations are due to the Gauthier family and the City of Rochester for their patience and determination to see this property protected,” explained Brian Hart, Executive Director of the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (SELT). “SELT is lucky to partner with such farsighted landowners and communities who understand the long-term value of protecting working farms and open space, particularly along the Salmon Falls River.” SELT is a regional land conservation organization based in Exeter that helps communities and landowners conserve significant lands for the benefit of people and nature.