On November 12, a roomful of enthusiastic supporters celebrated as Rodney and Judy Thompson of Farmington donated a conservation easement on their 203-acre property off the Meaderboro Road in Farmington and New Durham. This conservation agreement assures that the natural and historic resources of the land will be preserved in perpetuity. The easement was gifted to Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG), with the Towns of Farmington and New Durham serving as Executory Interest (backup) holders.
MMRG Board Chair, Nancy Spencer-Smith, noted that this easement is a milestone accomplishment for MMRG and signals that MMRG is now a full-fledged land trust. As holder of this easement – MMRG’s first – MMRG takes responsibility for ensuring that the Thompson property remains undivided and undeveloped into the future.
After the signing, landowner Rod Thompson thanked MMRG for being a ‘good sport’ and for working with him and Judy to create an easement that’s not the standard ‘cookie cutter’ type. Said Rod, “We want to thank all at MMRG for agreeing to become the easement holder and specifically Keith Fletcher [MMRG Director of Land Conservation] for his patience…in working out the [easement] language to our satisfaction … We also want to thank the Conservation Commissions and Select Boards of both Farmington and New Durham for their unanimous support as well as others unknown who have assisted in making this easement a reality.”
MMRG Chair Smith added her thanks to MMRG’s many project partners and to the Thompsons, saying, “This day would not be happening without Rod and Judy Thompson, owners of the 200+ acres of field and forest lands inhabited by many diverse, important species. They sought out MMRG to permanently preserve their ancestral area, being mindful of the need to protect wildlife and water quality and of our obligation to save the landmarks of those who have gone before us. The Thompsons’ gracious offer to conserve this land, without asking for financial remuneration, means that miles of beautiful stone walls, carefully constructed by farmers of bygone years, will be conserved for generations to come.”
The Thompsons also generously helped pay for project expenses. In addition, the towns of Farmington and New Durham, an anonymous family charitable foundation, and many generous individuals made important contributions. The project was also funded by a grant from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Project (PREP), which works to protect the rivers, lakes, marshes and estuaries of the NH seacoast. Said Rachel Rouillard of PREP, “We are pleased to be able to support the conservation of this important landscape in the Salmon Falls watershed. MMRG’s work to protect lands that contribute to improved water quality is critical, especially given the number of communities in Maine and New Hampshire that rely on the Salmon Falls for drinking water.”
Although the conservation easement does not open the land to public use, future MMRG-sponsored field trips on the property will allow participants to enjoy the mature woods and historic stone piles that are now preserved in perpetuity. The easement also provides for continued agriculture on these prime farm soils and protects the many headwater streams that begin on the property. In addition, the conserved land is a prominent and now protected part of the view from Little Blue Job Mountain, appreciated by numerous hikers.
As the signing ceremony drew to a close, MMRG Board member Cyndi Paulin, Farmington Conservation Commission Chair Dave Connolly, and New Durham Conservation Commissioner Bill Malay, each in turn summed up the feeling in the room with their thanks to Rod and Judy Thompson for this generous and thoughtful gift to future generations.