Why is the Sawyer Brook Headwaters Parcel special?
Sawyer Brook Headwaters MapThe 400-acre Sawyer Brook Headwaters Parcel includes a unique combination of natural and recreational resources that is not found elsewhere in Grantham. It includes wildlife habitat that is among the highest-ranked in the state by NH Fish & Game, and the second-highest ranked wetlands unit in Grantham. The Parcel is part of a key wildlife corridor running between Grantham’s and other town’s undeveloped lands and is accessible by four roads—three Class VI (unmaintained) roads and one maintained road. VIEW MAP BY CLICKING HERE.
Why Does the Warrant Article appropriate $515,000 if the cost to the Town is only $300,000?
The cost to the Town IS only $300,000. Still, the Town is legally required to appropriate the full $515,000 cost of the project, even though $215,000 of that money will come from state and private funding sources. This concept is referred to as gross-basis budgeting. The total project cost includes the purchase price of the land, along with appraisal, legal, and permanent stewardship costs.
Is there any chance that the Town’s share could be less than $300,000?
Yes, but it is not possible to advance the project without Article 2’s initial funding. Up to $250,000 of the $515,000 total cost may be funded by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). We plan an aggressive private fundraising campaign, and that—along with LCHIP grant funds—could allow money to be returned to the Town in the future.
What are the current public uses of the parcel?
Cross-country-skiing, hiking, hunting, nature observation, running, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
Do these uses enjoy protection?
No… with the exception of a very narrow (20’ wide) recreational easement allowing public passage across 10 out of 400 acres. This recreational easement also does not safeguard any portion of the Parcel from development. Access is currently at the discretion of the Parcel’s owner.
Would current recreational uses be restricted by a conservation easement?
No. The conservation easement that would be placed on the property as a condition of Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) funding prevents only development of the property. It does not limit current recreational or agricultural/forestry uses. In fact, an LCHIP easement REQUIRES …”continued public pedestrian access to, on and across the Premises for hunting, fishing, nature observation, hiking, cross-country skiing and similar transitory low-impact, non-commercial, recreational purposes…” VIEW A MODEL LCHIP CONSERVATION EASEMENT BY CLICKING HERE.
Would this project prevent the scheduled clear cut of the Parcel?
Yes, but this is our last chance. Dillon Investments has postponed its scheduled timber harvest and executed a purchase and sale agreement CONTINGENT UPON PASSAGE OF ARTICLE 2 at Town Meeting. Per the terms of that agreement, The Conservation Fund (a national conservation organization) will close on the property and hold title while the Town raises the remaining state and private funds to acquire the property.
Don’t we already have enough conserved land?
No. The Town of Grantham is 17,408 acres. Of that area, the Town owns roughly 500 acres of open space, or 2.9%.
Land conservation organizations and NHF&G own title or conservation easement to a total of roughly 2350 acres, bringing the total to 16% of the Town’s land that is protected as public open space.
The vast majority of land in Grantham enjoys no permanent protection from being developed or closed to public use. Recreational use is often permitted as a condition of current use taxation, but that does not provide any sort of long-term protection for Grantham’s natural and recreational resources.
Should the Sawyer Brook Headwaters Conservation Project be a priority?
Yes. When surveyed for the Master Plan, residents have ranked protection of the rural character and natural resources of the Town as a high priority.
This project achieves key goals of the Master Plan, which are to:
- “Consider the natural resources of Grantham as irreplaceable assets, providing innumerable benefits (including the town’s rural sense of place) and calling for responsible stewardship.”
- “Protect and conserve Grantham’s natural and scenic resources, both privately and publicly owned, to uphold the health and function of these interconnected systems.”
- “Protect fragile environmental areas such as wetlands, aquifers, areas subject to flooding, and steep slopes.”
- “Prevent air and water pollution.”
- “Support the Grantham Conservation Commission to a) acquire, conserve, protect, and manage important open space areas and natural resources, and b) work cooperatively with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF), the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust (ASLPT), and similar groups to conserve additional conservation and open space lands where appropriate.”
VIEW THE GRANTHAM MASTER PLAN BY CLICKING HERE. The Natural Resources Section begins on Page 22.