Thursday, April 26, 2007

Conservation agreement will preserve 175 acres

Union Leader Correspondent

GOFFSTOWN – The town will announce in a month a conservation agreement that will preserve about 175 acres of farmland in the area of Uncanoonuc Mountains, a local conservationist said yesterday.

An agreement with the two landowners, who live adjacent to each other, has been reached, but the details are still being worked out. David Nieman, chairman of the open space committee, said the town and the landowners have not yet decided on the size of the land affected or the financial terms of the agreement.

The land would be preserved by an easement that would allow the properties to continue to be active farms, but would prevent future development, Nieman said.

Nieman would not say how much the easement will cost, but said the town would only be chipping in about 20 percent of the total. The remainder is expected to come from corporate donations and federal funding through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

The open space committee is getting its application in this week and will know if the town is approved for the federal funding by this summer. “We’re pretty confident that we have a very competitive project,” Nieman said.

His committee has been in contact with the two landowners since last fall, Nieman said. The group is also in various stages of negotiations with eight others in town. He said four of them are “very serious.” 

Town conservationists will be tapping a $245,000 fund that voters approved last March for these projects. “Essentially it serves as seed money, because all these funding sources—the federal government, whatever—require a local matching fund,” Nieman said.

This latest push for more conservation has coincided with the formation of the open space committee in Jan. 2006, coming on the heels of 72-page open space plan written in 2005 by members of the conservation commission.


Nieman said the commission has been too preoccupied with reviewing development proposals to focus on open space. That task has now been delegated to the open space committee.

If successful, the 175 acres now being considered would be the largest parcel of land conserved in Goffstown in more than 10 years, according to Nieman. 

“I think a large part of it was just somebody had to do it,” Nieman said.