Conservation project benefits local farmer, school, and Town of Tamworth


January 27, 2011
Now, through the generosity of more than 20 individuals, 19 acres of the farm the "Beaver Brook Lot," has been conserved. Northeast of the intersection of Routes 113 and 25, this lot is bordered by 1,200 feet of the Bearcamp River and 700 feet of Beaver Brook.

Ned Beecher, Chair of the Tamworth Conservation Commission explains: "Bob Floyd came to us wanting to conserve the land he has worked his whole life, but he could not afford to give it away. Yet, even in these challenging economic times, with the help of generous private donors we worked out a win-win solution. Bob received income from the sale; The Community School was willing to assume ownership and to grant a conservation easement to the Town of Tamworth as long as it did not burden the School financially. And the town and its residents gained the preservation of this wild frontage on Route 25 and Bearcamp River."

The Community School is a private non-sectarian co-educational day school serving students, grades 6 to 12, from 15 towns in central New Hampshire and western Maine. It occupies an expanded house on the former Perkins Farm and integrates farming and environmental stewardship into its educational programs. In summer, the School grows and sells produce at farmers' markets and through a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA).

Jenny Rowe, the School's Director, and Cynthia Robinson, Chair of the School's Board, worked diligently with a committee of the Commission to complete the transfer of the land. The final step in the process will involve the school granting to the Town of Tamworth a conservation easement, which will preserve the land as open space in perpetuity, while allowing for public access, active forest management, and agricultural activities.

"The school was not looking to increase its real estate," said Director Jenny Rowe. "This is something extra for us to handle at a time when, like other institutions, we are working extra hard just to weather the economic downturn. But it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, opportunities come at inopportune times. And we are honored to have been chosen to be stewards of this land."

Robinson added: "One of the reasons we decided that owning this property was worth the extra responsibility and tax burden, is that it provides the school some frontage on Route 25, providing increased visibility for our farm and garden operations. It may help to have a sign or part of our farm stand out there."

The conservation value of Beaver Brook Lot was evaluated by the Commission with help from the local volunteer Bearcamp Trackers. The lot's wooded shorelands are a corridor used by many animals, providing sheltered access to crossing of busy Route 25. It is the eastern-most parcel of Floyd's farm, much of which fronts on the Bearcamp River, and it abuts more than 300 acres of Community School property that is already protected by conservation easement. It is considered important in the larger effort of sustaining wildlife connectivity between the Sandwich Range of the White Mountain National Forest to the north and the Ossipee Mountains just to the south. "In 2009," said Beecher, "the Commission adopted a focus of accepting conservation easements preserving the mosaic of forests and open areas connecting the Ossipees and Sandwich Range, and this stretch along Route 25 is critical to that goal."

Discussions about the conservation of Bearcamp Valley Farm began a year ago. The committee consulted with a variety of agricultural and land protection organizations before deciding to focus, for the time being, on just the Beaver Brook Lot.

"Through the efforts of many hard-working people, the whole thing came together literally at the last minute," said Beecher. "I'd like to especially thank wildlife ecologist Chris Conrod, project advisors David White and Theresa Swanick, and committee members John Mersfelder, Chele Miller, Nelson O'Bryan, and Kate Thompson. Real estate professional Gerard Costantino provided critical support through the process, leading to the December 30th closing. Working with the School and Mr. Floyd has been a pleasure. And most importantly, we thank the anonymous donors out there in our community, who made this possible."

Floyd is continuing discussions with the Commission regarding conserving his other lands

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