More than 130 contributors complete fundraising phase for 120-acre farm
Foster's Daily Democrat, Sunday, January 15, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Foster's Daily Democrat]
HAMPTON -- Today the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire announced the completion of the Campaign to Conserve Batchelder Farm. The Southeast Land Trust received contributions from more than 130 individuals, businesses, and foundations.
"We are impressed and humbled by the additional support the people of Hampton have given to this effort, and grateful for their help in completing the funding for the protection of Batchelder Farm," explains Jay Diener, chairman of the Hampton Conservation Commission and a volunteer for the Campaign for Batchelder Farm. "The impact of having this historic property protected is immeasurable, and will be felt for many, many years to come."
Chet Riley of the Campaign for Batchelder Farm echoed Diener's gratitude, explaining "Everybody that travels Exeter Road and lives in the neighborhood enjoys the scenic views of this iconic landscape. We really appreciate the generosity of so many from our community and beyond to help protect this special place."
The Campaign to Conserve Batchelder Farm began in earnest this fall with the goal of raising $99,000 to match funding from the Town of Hampton and US Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. Committee volunteers Senator Nancy Stiles, Bob Preston, Ben Moore, Chet Riley, Sheila Nudd, and Diener reached out to friends, neighbors, businesses, and foundations to explain the need for private funding to complete this effort.
"Hampton and area residents have quickly responded to this great opportunity, and we appreciate their generous support and the hard work of the campaign committee members," said Brian Hart, executive director of the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire.
The private funds raised included a grant from the Fields Pond Foundation, a gift from Nextera Energy Foundation, and more than one hundred individual gifts. These funds will match a grant from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, $357,500 in funds from the Town of Hampton, up to $407,500 from the US Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program grant, and a $30,000 grant from the NH Moose Plate program. The total cost of conserving the Batchelder Farm is expected to total approximately $900,000.
Now with the funding secured, the Southeast Land Trust is focusing on completing the purchase of the conservation easements. Over the next few months, the Land Trust will finalize the terms of the conservation easements with the Batchelder family, Town of Hampton, and the partnering agencies.
"Our hope is to complete the project by the end of May and join with the community in a public celebration of this beautiful, productive landscape", notes Hart.
The Batchelder Farm is owned by members of the Batchelder family, descendants of Rev. Stephen Bachiler, who founded the town of Hampton in 1638-9 and the farm has been and remains a noteworthy part of Hampton history.
The Batchelder Farm is one of the most unique properties in Hampton and has been a top priority for the Town of Hampton for years. In addition to being a significant resource to Hampton, the Batchelder property is a regional priority. The farm has been identified by the Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire's Coastal Watersheds and the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan as being important for maintaining clean water, productive forests, important wildlife habitats, and recreational opportunities.
As one of the largest undeveloped parcels remaining in Hampton, the farm includes approximately 84 acres of prime, statewide, and locally important agricultural soils, including approximately 41 acres of open hay fields. The prime agricultural soils represent some of the state's most productive soils and are important for providing a local supply of food, feed, and fiber. The open fields on the property are currently farmed by the Hurd Family, whose farm was also protected in 2005.
The Land Trust and Town will acquire conservation easements to prohibit development while allowing sustainable forestry, farming and continued public access for passive recreation such as hiking, hunting, and snowshoeing. As with all easements, the landowners will continue to own the land and to pay property taxes. The conservation restrictions, held by the Southeast Land Trust, are permanent and will remain in place even if the land is sold or transferred.