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Case Histories

Bragdon Hill

The Town of Amherst purchased the Bragdon property in 1995 with funds from the Amherst Conservation Commission and a large anonymous donation from a long-time resident of Amherst (who happened to be a founding member of the Amherst Land Trust). Later the donors became concerned over the lack of legal protection for the land's conservation status. In 2001, the Land Trust arranged for an attorney to work with the Conservation Commission and the donor to develop deed restrictions satisfactory to the donor's original intent. Then the Trust took ownership of the property just long enough to place the restrictions on the deed and return it to the Town.

Incidentally, the Bragdon property includes not only the famous sledding hill but also a substantial piece of fields and woodland across the highway.

Brine Forest

For many of us, leaving a legacy is about passing on money to our grandchildren. Polly Brine's legacy is something much more lasting, and all our grandchildren will benefit from her generosity and vision.

Working with the Land Trust and with advice and expertise from County extension, Ms. Brine developed a plan to recreate and protect a wilderness preserve right in the middle of Amherst. Stringent restrictions in her deed will allow the forest to revert to a completely wild state. Although it will take several generations, Polly's vision is of old growth forest in the heart of town: a perpetual testimony to the "howling wilderness" the earliest settlers of Amherst once knew.

Dinkel Easement (right)

Jay and Toni Dinkel knew their home, the historic Belden's Mill, was a special place. By donating an easement to the Land Trust, the Dinkels were able to realize some tax benefits while ensuring that the beautiful and historic remains of the old mill will be preserved for future generations.

El Eden

The Land Trust made a grant of some of the proceeds of the Huckabee Farm project to Souhegan High School to establish and fund a joint project with the University of California at Riverside and the El Eden reserve in Mexico. This project provides Amherst and Mont Vernon students and interested members of the community with the opportunity to be involved in hands-on research (coordinated with the Smithsonian Institution) in this unique habitat. Even residents of Amherst who never choose to go to Mexico will benefit from this preservation, as 70 percent of the migratory bird species which breed in the Amherst area winter in the part of the Yucatan peninsula where El Eden is located. The National Audubon Society has warned that development pressures in Mexico are a serious threat to our migratory species.

Huckabee Farm

The Land Trust used seed money appropriated by Town Meeting in 1998 to hold the land and to give Mrs. Huckabee immediate funds she needed to move into assisted living. Then the Board developed a plan for purchasing and protecting the land. Board members found a private partner for the project, Senator Warren Rudman, who was interested in purchasing the house and barn and willing to invest in the project.

Over the next two years, Land Trust Board members worked to design and obtain approval for a four-lot Open Space subdivision on 15 of the remaining acres. The lots were sold to recoup the cost of the purchase, with a small profit to the private investor and funds returned to the Land Trust's treasury for future projects. The Land Trust donated 37 acres to the Town under the management of the Amherst Conservation Commission.

Grater Woods

Grater Woods, as we call the area today, is part of an area roughly one mile in diameter spanning the Amherst - Merrimack town line. It lies between Baboosic Lake Road, Spring Road and Old Blood Road in Merrimack.

In February of 2013 the Amherst Land Trust, co-ordinating with the Amherst Conservation Commission, culminated a 20-year conversation with the heirs of the Grader family to secure 28 acres of land in Amherst and Merrimack. (The Merrimack Conservation Commission arranged to purchase the rest of the 100-acre farm in Merrimack.) These parcels connect 500 acres of protected land in Merrimack with the ACC land off Grater Road, and nearly connects through to the Pond Parish and Fells lands. With the purchase, just two more squares in the mosaic of greenway lands in the area remain unprotected.

The Graters moved to this farm from a house on Mack Hill in the early 1800s. Then this road was just known as "the road to Merrimack" as it was the route from Amherst village to Merrimack. At about the same time a family named Fowle established their home just down the road from Grater. Two cellar holes remain. The present home now owned by the Brenners was built on the site of the original Grater home.

The Grater Woods area is considered important for several reasons:

  • The NH Fish & Game ranks the area as "NH Highest environmental quality".
  • An environmental scientist reported to the Merrimack Conservation Commission that Grater Woods in Merrimack and extending into Amherst: "Represents Merrimack's largest unfragmented forested block interspersed with diverse wetlands and other habitats that are critical for a number of species of environmental concern. Not only does Grater Woods exhibit high quality examples of common habitats, but it also contains a complex of interconnected ecologically significant areas that supports high biodiversity."
  • Grater Woods forms a link in the greenway being protected which runs from Bedford through Amherst to the Merrimack River in Merrimack. From a wildlife perspective, the greenway provides a travel route for animals searching for food and mates. And not only are mammals the beneficiaries, but amphibians, turtles and forest birds benefit. From a more human point of view, a greenway can be a pleasing route through the natural world for hiking or skiing.
  • Grater Woods holds a high potential for personal, non-invasive recreation in all seasons. Some trails already exist for hiking and cross-country skiing. Other trails await either land protection or landowner permissions to be developed. As an example, one trail waiting to have existing parts connected will run from the Merrimack Middle School through Grater Woods to connect with Amherst Conservation Commission trails in the Pond Parish Town Forest, then along the old B&M Trail to the Bragdon Farm and north through the ACC Joppa Hill Farm to Pulpit Rock Reservation in Bedford.

Lindabury Orchard

When Jack Lindabury died in 2001, his will specified that his orchard property, with its spectacular views of the Souhegan Valley, was to be offered to the Conservation Commission at a reasonable price. However, land values had spiraled to unanticipated levels by the time of his death, and the Town feared it could not justify the cost of an acceptable offer for the property. The Board of the Land Trust made a commitment to negotiate with the estate and to raise whatever funds might be necessary to cover the difference between what the Town could support and the negotiated price.

The Land Trust also provided the expertise and contracted for the necessary surveys, inspection, and preparation of the property to protect the Town's interest before the sale, and seed money for the Friends of the Orchard's ambitious restoration project.

Post Road lands

An Amherst developer/builder, Larry Smith, found himself with two parcels that did not serve his business purposes. He chose to donate them to the Land Trust, to be preserved or disposed of as the Trust saw fit. This enabled the developer to take a tax deduction for the value of the land.

The Land Trust chose to preserve one piece as a wildlife reserve, to be monitored and studied by students at Souhegan High School. The Land Trust already has an established relationship with Souhegan High School in support of their conservation biology studies. This thriving wetland habitat will become a living lab for that program.

The second parcel was surrounded by existing homes. The Land Trust Board negotiated with abutters to the other parcel, who purchased it under a conservation easement, providing funds to the Land Trust for future projects while enhancing the value of the purchaser's home.

Trow Mill

After 200 years in the Souhegan Valley, the Wilkins family had accumulated several hundred acres of timberland. When Harold H. Wilkins, Jr. died in 2003, the family faced a dilemma. Recent rapid increases in land values had left the estate land rich, without sufficient cash to clear the estate tax. Harold, a charter member of the Land Trust, had a lifelong commitment to forestry and conservation. To honor his efforts, the family chose a combination of approaches, including land donations to the Mont Vernon Conservation Commission and to the Amherst Land Trust.

The land given to the ALT includes the remains of an old mill site. The family hopes to work with the Land Trust, the State and abutting landowners to preserve this historic site as an educational and recreational resource for the community.

Wah Lum Reserve

In the summer of 2007, the Mont Vernon Conservation Commission became aware of several parcels owned by Lyndeboro resident Larry Boisvert which would be offered at auction. Two parcels, one of 121 acres and the other of 126 acres, abutting Purgatory Brook to the west, were in Mont Vernon. Given that the Mont Vernon parcels had long been singled out as desirable targets for conservation by the Mont Vernon Conservation Commission, the members of the commission approached Mr. Boisvert about a purchase preempting the auction.

At the same time, the members of the Conservation Commission approached the members of the Amherst Land Trust for legal, financial, and deal-making assistance. The Mont Vernon members lacked the necessary expertise and funding to complete a deal in the time available. They also could not wait for a town vote to acquire the property, which is required for the authorization of an acquisition.

Three days before the auction, the full Amherst Land Trust board was briefed by the Conservation Commission on the deal. Given the value of the property to conservation, the ALT board unanimously voted to make an effort to preempt the auction, and it did so. At the next town meeting, the citizens of the town of Mont Vernon voted to buy the land, with a conservation easement placed on it by the Amherst Land Trust. The property will remain forever undeveloped forestland.