CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- The town's conservation commission has agreed to take money from a designated fund to help the Monadnock Conservancy's efforts to protect 688 acres in the area.
Anne McBride, the land protection director at the Monadnock Conservancy, said she said sent official requests to officials in Chesterfield, Keene and Swanzey asking for financial backing in order to purchase conservation easements in the three municipalities and the $17,000 approved by Chesterfield is proportionate to the 175 acres that will be saved in the town. She said the conservancy received a combined $66,000 from the three towns.
After getting support from the Chesterfield Conservation Commission, the project still required a public hearing and approval from the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen. McBride said the selectmen voted to approve the financing on Thursday, Oct. 31.
She told the Reformer she needs to secure some more financial backing before the conservancy can purchase the conservation easements for three different land parcels owned by Robert King and Annie Faulkner, a married couple in Keene opting to sell conservation easements on their land.
"This is is a project that has been in our sights for many, many years and we are thrilled to work with them to protect this really important property," McBride said. Though it consists of three different parcels, the attempt at conservation is regarded as one project.
McBride told the Reformer the three parcels of undeveloped land consist mostly of forests and has some streams and wetlands mixed in. She also said the land is home to a variety of wildlife and plant species, including a nest belonging to a family of great blue herons, which the National Audubon Society calls "one of North America's most familiar and adaptable wading birds." The parcels are within a corridor of land connecting Pisgah State Park in Chesterfield to West Hill in Keene. The West Hill parcel, according to McBride, is located at the corridor's eastern end and directly abuts 1,504 acres of conserved lands held by the Monadnock Conservancy and 670 acres of other conserved lands, including the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve. The Otter Pond parcel is located at the westerly end of the corridor in Chesterfield and is nearly adjacent to Pisgah.
According to McBride, this corridor is called the California Brook Natural Area and is approximately 6,000 acres and is within the largest block (28,223 acres) of unfragmented land in southern New Hampshire. The corridor is the brainchild of the California Brook Working Group, an informal coalition that included the Monadnock Conservancy as well as conservation commission members from Chesterfield, Keene and Swanzey, students and faculty from Antioch University New England, representatives from the Colony Memorial Trust (owners of the 500-acre Horatio Colony Preserve) and other non-profit conservation groups, citizens and landowners within the watershed.
The first phase of this project, completed in 2006, established a contiguous 3.6-mile greenway encompassing roughly 933 acres of land and stretching more than halfway through the corridor. Another 300 acres of protected land was added to the corridor through the California Brook Headwaters easement in July 2012.
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