On June 23rd PLC signed purchase and sale agreements on two properties in Lyndeborough totaling ninety acres. If successfully protected, the parcels will be key additions to the mosaic of conservation land straddling Lyndeborough, New Boston and Francestown. The properties would connect over 1,500 acres of existing conservation property, including more than 300 acres of abutting or close-by PLC properties. Between now and the end of 2017, PLC will be working to raise nearly $300,000 in public and private funds to purchase the parcels from their current owner, the Charles A. Proctor Trust.
PLC was first attracted to the Proctor project by the land’s water resources: the two parcels contains nearly 5,000 feet of stream frontage on Cold Brook, Scataquog Brook, and related tributaries. Both brooks drain to the South Branch of the Piscataquog River. New Hampshire Fish and Game has confirmed an exemplary native trout population in Scataquog Brook on the 21-acre tract to be conserved by the project. The properties’ water resources also extend underground, with about 19 acres of the project lands overlying a stratified aquifer.
In addition to its valuable aquatic resources, almost the entire property (96%) is classified by New Hampshire Fish and Game's Wildlife Action Plan as either Tier 1 (best in state) or Tier 2 (best in region) habitat. About 70% of the land has also been identified by N.H. Fish and Game as critical to wildlife connectivity across the larger landscape. The 21-acre tract features large glacial eskers (linear sand and gravel deposits) that are literally hundreds of feet high, providing a unique scenic and recreational experience. The property abuts PLC's Rice Preserve, which already has a walking trail system.
The lands PLC hopes to acquire are top conservation priorities in the Town of Lyndeborough’s Natural Resource Inventory, and in a two-state watershed conservation plan developed by the Merrimack (River) Conservation Partnership. The land’s strategic importance is further underlined by the tremendous amount of conservation effort that has already been invested in the area by private landowners, PLC and other conservation groups, local towns and state agencies.
The 69-acre target tract is highly developable and was on the market until being secured by PLC’s P&S agreement. PLC was alerted that the lot was for sale by the Lyndeborough Conservation Commission. The Commission and PLC have a long history of collaboration, most recently on the Rose Mountain acquisition. The 21-acre tract abuts a sand and gravel operation that is currently excavating the esker that leads into the property from the south.
PLC hopes to put together funding for the project from the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), N.H. Fish and Game, the Town of Lyndeborough’s conservation fund, and private donations. LCHIP funding in particular will be make-or-break for the project.
“This is a textbook example of strategic land conservation,” says PLC land protection specialist Tom Jones. “When we saw how these two properties fit together with the conservation lands around them, and frontage on two brooks that had already seen a lot of protection upstream and downstream, it was obvious that PLC had to try to make something happen. PLC is grateful to the Proctor Trust for giving us the time we need to raise the funds.”