April 2017 - Later this spring the Piscataquog Land Conservancy will take ownership of the Florence M. Tarr Wildlife Sanctuary, more than three hundred acres undeveloped forest, ponds, wetlands and streams in Bedford and Goffstown. The sanctuary was created in 1993 by lifelong Bedford resident Florence Tarr through her estate, and until now had been managed by a trust established by Mrs. Tarr. The trust is now in the process of being legally dissolved, and PLC has been working since late 2015 with the NH Attorney General’s office and the two towns to transfer ownership of the Tarr lands to PLC. Once conveyed, the property will be managed in perpetuity by PLC for wildlife habitat, natural resource protection and carefully-managed public recreation.
The Tarr Sanctuary comprises ten parcels of land bisected by the town line between Bedford, which contains about 80% of the acreage, and Goffstown, which contains the other 20%. The land is rolling, and other than its wetland complexes is entirely forested. The western side of the property features areas of mature forest with extensive areas of mountain laurel in the understory. The sanctuary straddles the watershed divide between the Piscataquog River to the north and the Souhegan River to the south, and includes 32 acres of wetlands and ponds, and more than a mile of streams that feed into the two river systems.
The Tarr parcels directly abut the Forest Society’s Phinny conservation easement in Goffstown, and open space owned by the Town of Bedford on Pulpit Road. The Tarr lands are also close to the extensive conservation lands owned by the town of Goffstown on North and South Uncannonuc Mountains. PLC hopes there may be opportunities in the future to extend our ownership and/or easements to create additional connections between the Tarr Sanctuary and these nearby conservation lands.
In keeping with Florence Tarr’s original wishes, the land will continue to be posted against hunting and fishing, and all motorized vehicles including ATVs, snowmobiles, and motorboats will be prohibited. The land will otherwise be open to the public for non-motorized pedestrian recreation. Dogs will be allowed but must be leashed. Bicycling and horseback riding will be allowed on designated trails, but PLC will have discretion to limit or eliminate these uses if they negatively the land’s wildlife and natural resources.
While the land is being transferred at no cost, PLC secured funding commitments totaling $185,000 to cover transaction costs (survey, staff time, legal, etc.) management planning and infrastructure (e.g. gates, kiosks), and a substantial endowment for long-term stewardship and legal defense. Funds are being contributed by the towns of Bedford and Goffstown, the Tarr Trust, the Merrimack Conservation Partnership, and the Jessie B. Cox CLT - Cox Family Fund at the Boston Foundation.
Martha Sunderland, Chair of the PLC Board of Trustees says “after more than twenty years, we have secured Florence Tarr’s legacy and the future of a true ’last best place’ in two of New Hampshire’s most populous communities. The Piscataquog Land Conservancy is truly honored to be the new steward of this land, and we look forward to collaborating with the many local community members who know and love the refuge.”