Partnership Protects Working Farm (Walpole, NH)
Walpole, NH, 2/9/10: Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, and the Monadnock Conservancy, a local land trust, announced the completion of a multi-year effort to protect the 137-acre Sawyer Farm on River Road. In addition to funding from the Town of Walpole and a federal grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, nearly $160,000 in private funds was raised for the acquisition and protection of the property as a working farm.
Whitney Hatch, TPL regional director and vice president, explained, “The outpouring of community support for this project has been truly remarkable and reflects the commitment of Walpole residents and officials to preserving both their forests and farmland. This project would not have been possible without the efforts of many individuals and groups, including the Sawyer family, Walpole Conservation Commission, Monadnock Conservancy, State of New Hampshire, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Boggy Meadow Farm, and the Fields Pond Foundation. Together, we have preserved a New Hampshire treasure.”
Ben Mahnke, executive director of the Monadnock Conservancy, pointed out, “New Hampshire is developing more of its open space, 20,000 acres a year at the last count, than we are protecting. Working Farms and an agricultural economy are one of the things that make Walpole, New Hampshire different from Walpole, Massachusetts or Walpole, New Jersey. If the farms in town are going to stay profitable they need to have access to highly productive land and soil.”
Last March, TPL negotiated an agreement to purchase Sawyer Farm for $430,000. The first phase of the project was completed on January 12, 2001 when TPL transferred to the Town of Walpole, through a directed deed, 44 wooded acres as an addition to the Fanny Mason Town Forest. Funding came from the Fanny Mason Trust and private donations.
The second and final phase was completed today when TPL sold the development rights to the remaining 93 acres to the State of New Hampshire (thanks to funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) and the Monadnock Conservancy. TPL then sold the 93-acre property—minus its development rights—to Boggy Meadow Farm for permanent protection. Boggy Meadow Farm, which is also protected from development through an agricultural preservation restriction, lies nearly adjacent to the Sawyer Farm on River Road.
Harold Putnam, chair of the Walpole Conservation Commission, commented, “We speak for all Walpole residents who are concerned about maintaining lands free from development when we say that protecting the two parcels of the former Sawyer Farm lands is the single most important land protection Walpole has seen in over a decade. We owe thanks to many persons and agencies for their generosity of time and money. The expertise of the Trust for Public Land was especially valuable through this process.”
Steve Hundley, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Federal Grant Administrator for New Hampshire, explained, “The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is very pleased to be part of the effort to protect 92 acres of prime agricultural land belonging to the Alfred W. Sawyer Estate. This parcel represents some of the most productive soils in New Hampshire, and placing a conservation easement on this property will help to maintain the agricultural infrastructure in the area and the vitality of agriculture in the state. The conservation easement will also serve to maintain open space, wildlife habitat and the natural beauty of the New Hampshire landscape. This parcel is one of many that the USDA Farmland Protection Program has assisted in protecting from development in this rapidly growing area of the country.”
Andy Sawyer, former landowner, said, “We would like to thank the Trust for Public Land, the Walpole Conservation Commission, the Monadnock Conservancy, and the entire town of Walpole for their time, effort, and support in making this project a reality. We’d especially like to thank our parents for their hard work and selflessness that preserved this land for the last fifty years. Our only regret being that they are not here today to see their dream of permanent preservation realized.”
The Monadnock Conservancy is a regional land trust protecting land important to the people and towns of southeast New Hampshire. To date, the conservancy has protected over 2,000 acres of land in 16 towns in the Monadnock region. For more information, call the Conservancy’s office at (603) 357-0600 or visit www.MonadnockConservancy.org
The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 60,000 acres in New England. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, call our Vermont office at (802) 223-1373 or visit www.tpl.org