84 Acres Protected at Winnicut River Headwater (NH)

North Hampton, New Hampshire, 1/23/2006: The North Hampton Conservation Commission, its North Hampton Forever subcommittee, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire announced today the Town’s acquisition of 84 acres of upland forests, vernal pools, and recreational trails for permanent conservation. The property is situated at the headwaters of three critical coastal watersheds: Berry’s Brook, the Little River, and the Winnicut River.

The purchase was made possible through a federal $1.4 million grant awarded to North Hampton by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP). The land was sold by the owners, Mr. Richard Luff and Ms. Antonia Tagupa, to the Town. The land is bound to the north by the North Hampton/Greenland border and to the south by the Sagamore Golf course. The federal dollars were matched by recent Town acquisitions secured through the Town Bond funds passed in 2001.

The preserved area has been identified by the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire as critical in providing significant unfragmented habitat in a part of the state that has seen significant residential development pressure in recent years. The property has a network of cross-country skiing and hiking trails and contains significant vernal pools and soft and hardwood forest habitats. Under an easement agreement between the town and the Southeast Land Trust, the natural resource values of the land will be protected and preserved in perpetuity for continued passive recreational use by the public.

The federal grant for the project was allocated through a CELCP grant administered by NOAA, which establishes partnerships between the federal, state and local government to protect key lands along the country’s coastline and coastal watersheds. U.S. Senator Judd Gregg secured the federal funding through his position on the Senate Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for NOAA’s CELCP program.

Senator Gregg stated, “I want to thank and congratulate all those who made this announcement possible. TPL, the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire and especially the citizens of North Hampton have demonstrated their commitment to protecting our state’s unique environment. This project not only preserves an important natural ecosystem, but also will enhance the quality of life for the people who live nearby. I am happy to support their work and look forward to doing all I can to further these efforts.”

The Trust for Public Land negotiated the sale of the land and helped with the effort to apply for CELCP funding. Sam Hodder, Senior Project Manager for TPL, said, “This successful project is the result of diligent work of the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, particularly Senator Gregg, and the remarkable conservation vision of the Town of North Hampton. TPL is thrilled to have partnered with the Town and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire to see this critical property preserved.”

Phil Wilson, Co-Chair of North Hampton Forever, said, “We were pleased to be able to use the land previously acquired through the North Hampton Forever program to meet the Town’s matching funds requirement for this grant. Our intention is to continue leveraging the value of land purchases with Town bond funds or land gifted to the Town to match equally valued federal grant funds to acquire even more land for conservation.”

Kristen Grubbs, Project Manager for the Southeast Land Trust, said,. “We are delighted to be a partner with North Hampton and TPL on this project, and hope this will be the first of many similar conservation partnerships in the future. This property is especially significant as a piece of a larger unfragmented forest block that has been identified as a priority for protection by “The Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds.”

Ted Diers of the New Hampshire Coastal Program stated, “This property is part of a much larger effort to protect the best of the last remaining large, undeveloped green spaces left in seacoast New Hampshire. What happens in the area that sits between Great Bay and the ocean impacts both water bodies. That greenspace is not just a local gem, but has regional and national importance as it protects coastal and estuarine water quality.”

The seller of the land, Richard Luff, added, “This was a win-win for both our interests and the Town’s. It’s reassuring that the land will be kept out of development and in its natural state to be available for many future generations of North Hampton’s residents”. He further pointed out that, “The parcel has historic significance, being part of the former Forest Hills Farm, which dates back to the late 1800’s.” Luff’s father purchased the property in the early 60’s and was years ahead of his time in maintaining the golf course to the south with organic fertilizers before they were widely available and taking great care to maintain the natural health of the forest and wetlands of the subject property.

To date, the North Hampton Forever program has resulted in the acquisition of 338 acres of conservation land and the expenditure of approximately $1.3 million of the Town’s bond funds. The Town hopes to continue to build on this success by successfully acquiring an additional 12 target properties totaling over 300 acres. In addition the North Hampton Sub-committee has facilitated a number of private land donations to protect land without the use of bond funds.

The addition of this parcel brings the total land in conservation in North Hampton to about 900 acres. The Conservation Commission’s Chairman, Chris Ganotis indicated “We fully expect to achieve a major milestone in 2007 by having over 1,000 acres of North Hampton land in conservation. Our goal is to acquire, preserve and protect historic and environmentally important farmlands, wildlife habitat and water aquifers, and mitigate urban development to maintain the rural character and historic values of North Hampton.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including over 200,000 acres in New Hampshire. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact TPL’s Concord office at (603) 224-0103 or visit www.tpl.org/newhampshire.

Formed by the merger of the Rockingham Land Trust and Seacoast Land Trust, the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire works to conserve the significant land and natural resources of southeastern New Hampshire, including water, working farms and forests, wildlife habitat and natural areas, and community landscapes. As a regional land trust, we serve 39 communities of greater Rockingham County. The Southeast Land Trust has helped landowners and communities conserve more than 4,500 acres of land through conservation easements and full-fee ownerships. For more information, contact us at 603/778-6088 or visit our website www.seltnh.org.