Campaign to Protect Orchard Gains Steam (Derry, NH)

Derry, NH, 1/15/02: The Town of Derry and the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation organization, announced today the next step in the effort to conserve approximately 86 acres known as the Corneliusen orchard on English Range Road. Last week, the Trust for Public Land purchased the land from the Corneliusen family for $895,000, in order to hold it off the market while the Town seeks state and private funds to help permanently protect it from development.

“I am thrilled that the Trust for Public Land has provided us with extra time to pull together funding to protect the Corneliusen orchard, which is the Conservation Commission’s top priority. We will be working hard over the next several months to raise approximately $300,000 from the State of New Hampshire and private supporters,” said Paul Dionne, Chairman of the Derry Conservation Commission.

“We are delighted to announce our purchase of the Corneliusen orchard, which will provide a window of opportunity to pull together the funds needed to conserve this outstanding property permanently,” said Julie Iffland, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, which began negotiating to purchase the property over a year ago at the request of Derry officials.

More than half the funds needed for the project – some $495,000 – have been raised already. The Conservation Commission committed $250,000 to the purchase, and the Town Council voted in late November to dedicate an additional $150,000 to the purchase. Last summer, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Farmland Protection Program also awarded a grant of $95,000 to help fund the property’s protection as working farmland.

“This is yet another example of the strong importance that the people of New Hampshire place on protecting their natural resources,” said Senator Gregg. “Since my days in the Governor’s Office, land conservation and preservation has been one of my highest priorities. I am pleased to be able to continue to accomplish this priority here in the Senate and I appreciate all of the local support that this project is receiving.”

Senator Bob Smith stated, “All involved should be congratulated on this significant conservation arrangement for Southern New Hampshire. The partnership approach employed by the Town of Derry and the Trust for Public Land will stand as a cooperative model for how we should pursue conservation efforts. Future generations will be grateful for this crucial endeavor to preserve our natural heritage.”

“New Hampshire has a long tradition of public-private partnerships working to meet the goals of the State and its citizens. In Derry, as in the North Country, where the Trust for Public Land is a valuable partner in the effort to conserve 171,500 acres of land under multiple use, the organization is playing a critical role in ensuring that federal, state, and local parties are able to identify the resources needed to reach the long-term goal of preserving open space,” said Congressman John E. Sununu, Vice-Chairman of the House Budget Committee and Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is very proud to be part of this conservation effort,” said Richard Babcock, State Conservationist. “There was fierce competition in the Farmland Protection Program this past year, with $116 million requested nationwide, and only $17.5 million available. With New Hampshire losing so much farmland to urban development, we are very pleased to have received some of these funds to go toward the permanent protection of agricultural land in the State.”

Now the Town is working with local supporters to raise $300,000 from private sources and the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). Additional funding for the project will also come from the sale of a portion of the land to neighboring landowners.

“The community will benefit from this,” said State Representative John Gleason (R-13). “We are witnessing the suburbanization of southern New Hampshire. This would save the land forevermore, and help maintain Derry’s rural character.”

State Representative Phyllis Katfakiores (R-13) commented, “This is a great opportunity, and I am very proud that some Derry citizens are taking an active part. This project is a good application for LCHIP to preserve green space.”

Because nearly half the property contains prime farm soils, it will be protected from development by an agricultural conservation easement. This restricted land will continue to be used for agricultural purposes. In addition, approximately 10 acres will likely be sold to two other adjoining landowners. This land will be also protected from development through conservation easements.

The remaining half of the Corneliusen land, which offers scenic views of Derry and surrounding hillsides, will be purchased by the Town and protected permanently for low-impact recreation—such as hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding—as well as for wildlife habitat.

Contributions to conserve the Corneliusen orchard are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Derry Conservation Commission, Attention Paul Dionne, P.O. Box 557, Derry, NH 03038. For more information or to make a pledge, contact Joe Binette of Save our Neighborhoods at (603) 432-6721.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 30,000 acres in New Hampshire. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine has named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.