On July 19th the Town of Brookline completed its purchase of two properties totaling 75 acres along the Nissitissit River, and the simultaneous donation of a conservation easement on the land to the Piscataquog Land Conservancy. Acquiring the parcels had been a priority of local conservationists for nearly fifty years, and Brookline residents voted overwhelmingly in March to approve an $800,000 town bond to fund the purchase. For PLC, the Nissitissit project was significant both on its conservation merits, and as our first completed project in our expanded service area.
At the July closing, PLC Executive Director Chris Wells said “PLC is proud to have been the Brookline's partner in protecting this special place. The Brookline Conservation Commission did a truly incredible job pulling the land purchase together, and the Nissitissit River Land Trust played a crucial role as an advocate and major funder. We are also grateful to the many local residents, businesses and foundations who together contributed over $170,000 through PLC for the project.”
Brookline Conservation Commission member Drew Kellner said “working with PLC was essential to accomplishing such a large project, as we are an all-volunteer board. The commission members have lots of drive and passion, but the technical expertise PLC provided was instrumental in developing the conservation easement and to our successful fundraising.”
The Brookline Conservation Commission hasn’t slowed down their pace of activity since completing the land purchase. Work continues to complete improvements on the newly-acquired land-- a small parking area, field edge maintenance, etc. -- and in September the town applied for a state wetland permit to perform work on a riverbank stabilization project to be completed in mid-October. Meanwhile the town and PLC have already begun work on the next phase of the project that the town is calling Nissitissit River Park.
The new park will combine several parcels already held by the town with three more to be donated to the town by the Nissitissit River Land Trust and the Beaver Brook Association. Immediately following the transfer of private land to the town, Brookline will convey a conservation easement on all the parcels to PLC. Altogether the properties comprise about 24 acres of land and another half mile of frontage on the Nissitissit River. The properties also feature over a mile of existing rail trail, and the town plans to create a new universally-accessible river walk and fishing pier. Two new car-top boat launches are also planned. Progress on developing the Nissitissit River Park has been aided by a technical grant through the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, and generous funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
As if all this activity wasn’t enough to keep Brookline busy, the Nissitissit River is also the subject of a study by the National Park Service to determine if it should be granted “Wild and Scenic River” status by Congress. The Brookline Select Board voted to have the town formally participate in the study process and town voters may be asked to vote at the March 2018 town meeting to adopt a management plan for the river.